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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutions for gun crimes have risen substantially nationwide, including in Utah, the past three months, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The number of defendants charged with unlawful possession of a firearm increased nearly 23 percent in the second quarter of 2017 over the same period last year, going from 2,149 to 2,637.
Utah saw a 29 percent jump during April, May and June, with 96 total cases compared to 74 at the same time last year, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions attributed the increase to President Donald Trump's directive to federal law enforcement to look for ways to reduce crime. Sessions ordered Justice Department prosecutors to make firearms offenses a priority.
Prosecutors in Utah have aggressively followed Sessions' directives, said U.S. Attorney John Huber.
"We will not give ground to gun-toting offenders who violate federal law. Every person in Utah deserves a safe neighborhood, and with our strong law enforcement partners we will continue to seek out and deliver justice to those who expose us to increased violence. Gun crime in Utah will lead to hard time in a federal prison,” Huber said in a statement.