A need for more gun laws clearly is not the answer to the issue of ‘gun-violence’. What really needs to happen are officials actually doing their jobs and convicting these criminals… with the laws ALREADY on the books.
From 2012 to 2014, more than 11,700 felony weapon charges were filed in Delaware, and in most cases, the weapon was a gun. Yet, 71 percent of those charges disappeared before trials began.
As President Barack Obama, state officials and others press for tighter gun controls after mass shootings across the country, gun rights advocates say there is less need for more restrictions and more emphasis needed on prosecuting criminals who have been charged with weapons violations.
State prosecutors said they’re not surprised by the rate, but said there is more to it than those raw numbers. They said that cases usually have multiple charges, and that in Superior Court where felony trials occur, they get some sort of conviction in 87 percent of cases involving a firearm.
Most of the time, 62 percent, the convictions are for gun offenses.
“Cases are defendants and it’s the defendants who we are prosecuting and it’s the defendant for whom we are seeking incarceration, not a charge,” said Steve Wood, who, with more than 30 years’ experience is one of the most senior prosecutors in the Delaware Attorney General’s Office. He said the important thing is to get a conviction.
Wood said if a defendant is charged with homicide and gun charges, prosecutors will sometimes drop the firearms charges in exchange for a guilty plea in the homicide. He called that result a victory because the defendant is going to prison for a long time.
“Nobody would care that a charge was dropped to get there,” Wood said.
Then there is the case of Mateo Pinkston.
In late summer 2011, court documents say Pinkston walked up to a man, pointed a gun at him and took his cellphone.
Pinkston, who had already been convicted of two felonies and was a suspect in a still-unsolved homicide, was arrested by Wilmington police and charged with robbery and several gun counts.
But the Delaware Attorney General’s Office cut a deal with him in 2012, agreeing to drop three weapon charges that carried a maximum of 41 years in prison in exchange for Pinkston admitting to second-degree robbery and terroristic threatening, which carried a maximum of eight years in prison.
Soon after being released from his 12-month prison sentence, Pinkston, police said, shot and killed 25-year-old Arteise Brown in Wilmington last year.
Read more: delawareonline.com