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De Blasio, Bratton to unveil plan for city gun courts

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LOWER MANHATTAN — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will announce Tuesday the special “gun courts” to handle all felony gun possession cases aimed at getting violent criminals off the streets faster, law enforcement sources said.

Guns that were seized by the New York Police Department (NYPD), in the largest seizure of illegal guns in the city's history, are displayed on a table during a press conference on August 19, 2013 in New York City. The operation, which involved an undercover agent buying guns that were smuggled from North Carolina and South Carolina, yielded over 250 guns. Ninteen people have been charged in the operation.  (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Guns that were seized by the New York Police Department (NYPD), in the largest seizure of illegal guns in the city’s history, are displayed on a table during a press conference on August 19, 2013 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

An expansion of a Bloomberg era initiative, the special courts would speed up the handling of gun cases to better identify and prosecute violent criminals who use guns illegally, sources said.

The city’s five district attorneys, chief administrative judge Lawrence Marks and Citizens Crime Commission chair Richard Aborn have been working on the plan for months, sources said.

“A dedicated judge will help us prosecute gun cases faster and more efficiently in Brooklyn. We are in discussions with court officials about setting up this specialized part and having it up and running in the coming weeks,” Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson said.

Last week, Bratton revealed the new initiative during a radio broadcast — a week before Tuesday’s planned announcement.

“Those several thousand people in the city who think nothing of taking out a gun and shooting another human being, I’m sorry, they need to be treated with every ounce of justice system that we can apply to them, to basically get them off the streets and keep them away from us,” Bratton said during the radio interview.

Gun arrests were up 10 percent in 2015, according to NYPD statistics.

It’s unclear how this program will differ from the one launched during the Bloomberg administration in 2003.

During that time, the Mayor’s Office and the NYPD used data to identify five precinct’s in Brooklyn with the highest rates of violent crime and gun arrests.

A report by the Vera Institute of Criminal Justice said roughly 200 cases were referred to Gun Court in a six month span.

The amount of defendants sentenced to jail without probation rose from 14 to 44 percent, which virtually eliminated probation-only sentences, the report shows.