AG Sessions: ‘It’s No Good to Have Laws If They Are Not Enforced’

Melanie Arter | February 16, 2018 | 10:43am EST
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Screenshot of DOJ video)

( - Speaking to the Major County Sheriffs’ Association on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to study “the intersection” between mental health and criminality” in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

He noted that in the first quarter of the Trump administration after he was sworn in, there was a 23 percent increase in federal gun prosecutions - the most in a decade.

“Since the day I took office— in conjunction with our state and local colleagues— we have prioritized violent crime and violations of federal firearms laws. In the first quarter after I was sworn in, we saw a 23% increase in gun prosecutions and have now charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade,” Sessions said.

“It’s no good to have laws if they are not enforced,” the attorney general said.

Sessions said he has directed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy to work with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Homeland Security “to study the intersection of mental health and criminality and identify how we can stop people capable of such heinous crimes.”

“It is too often the case that the perpetrators of these terrible attacks had given of signals in advance. You are experienced professionals. You and I know that we cannot arrest everybody that somebody thinks is dangerous, but I think we can and must do better. We owe it to every one of those kids crying outside their school yesterday and all those who never made it out,” he said.

“The most important thing that any government does is to protect the safety and the rights of its citizens, and I understand the importance in this country of respecting the civil rights of every American, but the first civil right is the right to be safe. Everything else that we do as a government depends on that,” Sessions said. “We cannot allow politics or bad policies to get in the way of that mission.”

Sessions said the country and certain political leaders lost focus on the importance of “proper support and affirmation” of law enforcement and as a result, violent crime went up by seven percent nationwide from 2014 to 2016. He said robberies went up, assaults increased by nearly 10 percent, rape went up nearly 11 percent, and murder rose more than 20 percent.

In contrast, in the last year alone, the DOJ “brought cases against the greatest number of violent criminals in a quarter of a century,” Sessions said. “We also arrested and charged hundreds of people suspected of contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis.”

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