Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston has announced plans to bolster the fight against gun violence by capitalizing on a new state law. The Tennessee legislature passed a law that calls for increased jail time for felons who commit crimes while in possession of a firearm. It becomes effective on July 1, 2021. Currently, a felon convicted of committing a crime while in possession of a firearm must serve 30 percent of his/her sentence. The new law boosts that to 85 percent.
“This renewed effort, which begins on July 1st, is an extension of our TARGET initiative, which we started in 2016 to focus on gang and gun violence,” said General Pinkston. “This will place a more detailed focus on guns, based on the new sentencing laws.” TARGET stands for Tactical All Region Gang Enforcement Team, which is a joint effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to cut gun violence and gang-related crime. General Pinkston said two members of his office will lead this effort: Assistant District Attorney Colin Campbell, who worked on similar initiatives with the Memphis District Attorney’s Office, and Investigator Ben Scott, who is a retired Resident Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Agency.
General Pinkston said those two individuals, and others in the DA’s office, will work closely with the newly expanded Gun Unit with the Chattanooga Police Department, and other local, state and federal agencies to investigate and prosecute these cases.
“I truly believe that Chattanooga is a great place to live and work,” said General Pinkston. “However, this city does have a serious problem with gun violence and my office will do everything it can to use this new state law to make our city safer.”