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Law enforcement agencies for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia committed to better coordinate with each other and national partners so the United States Attorneys’​ Offices can effectively prosecute gun-related cases.     

The commitment is part of a nationwide initiative announced by U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday called Project Guardian. The idea is to consider federal prosecution if someone is arrested for illegal possession of a firearm.

U.S. Attorney for D.C. Jessie Liu has previously suggested more gun cases will go to U.S. District Court as opposed to D.C. Superior Court. Liu affirmed this sea change during a press conference on Friday. For context, in 2018, one-quarter of 350 cases in D.C. were charged as federal crimes according to the Post. Under Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will work more closely with The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who will provide a list of people with failed background checks. Federal prosecutors will also work more closely with local law enforcement.  

During the presser, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger explained it this way: “What that means is if you get caught straw purchasing a firearm in Virginia, we’ll prosecute you there in Virginia. If you get caught with being a prohibited person in D.C. with a firearm, Jessie’s office will prosecute you. Now what we do is make sure that if that individual is prosecuted in D.C., the right questions are being asked and we are utilizing ATF’s 20th century techniques… and that we are getting back to the actual purchaser.” 

The Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said he could “not be more pleased that the Attorney General has announced Project Guardian.” He’s hoping the initiative helps mitigate the city’s soaring homicide rate. Of the 148 homicides in D.C. this year, over 80 percent involved illegal firearms, per Newsham. (Newsham has called for stricter penalties for gun crimes.)

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Gun control advocates were quick to criticize Project Guardian because it includes no new statutes or policies and strictly focuses on policing. “Let’s be clear, this is nothing more than a distraction from common-sense gun reform,” tweeted Kris Brown, the president of Brady, a national organization focused on reducing gun violence. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

CITY DESK, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

  • Housing advocates want DCRA overhauled after deadly Kennedy Street fire. [WCP]

  • “This is not over!”: Family of Bijan Ghaisar mourn his death days after the Justice Department declines to charge Park Police officers who fatally shot him. [Post]

  • Black homicide detective accuses his colleagues of racism and ageism after physical altercation. [Post]   

  • American University student punished for protesting the school’s investment in fossil fuels. [AWOL]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • The group trying to force a recall election of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans will turn in over 5,700 signatures today. They need about 5,000. [Twitter]

  • Office of the Attorney General hires Jason Downs, the lawyer who represented Rayful Edmond in his motion for early release. [DC LineOAG]

  • Metro isn’t ticketing fare evaders, but maintains Council’s decriminalization bill is costing it a lot of money. [DCist]

  • Chairman Phil Mendelson killed a bill that decriminalizes sex work, says At-Large Councilmember David Grosso. [Post

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Martha Dear will specialize in Neapolitan-style pizza and fun wine. [WCP]

  • ICYMI: Is it a jerk move to dine out on Thanksgiving? [WCP]

  • The Roost will have a coffee shop with fancy milk. [Washingtonian]

  • Which booze should you buy at Costco? [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Scene Theatre brings Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse’s drama Sea stateside. [WCP]

  • The Report reveals the torture secrets of the post-9/11 CIA. [WCP]

  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama is signing copies of her memoir at Politics and Prose today. [DCist]

  • Check out a lip artist’s D.C.-related mouth paintings. [Washingtonian]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Fans at FedExField began to chant, “Sell the team!” during the Washington football team’s 34-17 loss to the Jets. So, no, things are not going well for the local NFL franchise. [Yahoo Sports]

  • The Wizards will return to D.C. with one win (over the Minnesota Timberwolves) from their three-game road trip. In their matchup against the Orlando Magic, DeMatha alum Markelle Fultz scored a career-high 19 points to lead his team over the Wizards, 125-121. [AP]

  • University of Maryland’s Eppley Recreation Center hosted some of the top swimmers in the world this past weekend when the new team-based International Swimming League came to town. [SwimSwam]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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