(WASHINGTON) — In their first collective response to the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut late last year, every Republican on the House Judiciary committee has signed a letter criticizing the Obama administration for not enforcing current federal gun measures.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting Dec. 14, House Speaker John Boehner said the House committees of jurisdiction would conduct reviews of the nation’s gun laws before determining whether any new measures or changes to current laws are appropriate.
Now, members of the House Judiciary GOP have banded together, bashing the president and attorney general for lack of enforcement, citing a slowing trend of federal weapons prosecutions during his presidency.
The letter points to a study conducted by Syracuse University that found a 30 percent decline in prosecutions compared with the peak year of the Bush presidency. In 2004, there were 11,015 prosecutions, but data shows that by the final year of President Obama’s first term in 2012, just 7,774 cases were prosecuted.
“Before the President demands that Congress push through legislation to stifle the rights of law abiding citizens, he should take care to enforce the laws that are already on the books,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the committee, wrote in a statement Friday. “We must all be looking for ways to prevent senseless acts of violence and the taking of innocent life but the best place to start would be enforcing the laws that Congress has already enacted.”
The Judiciary Republicans also criticized the administration for failing to prosecute paperwork violations from federally licensed firearms dealers. Providing false information on Form 4473, an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form that requires the purchaser to state whether or not he is the true purchaser of the firearm, is a violation of federal law.
“In 2010, there were 76,142 [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] denials screened by the ATF’s Denial Enforcement and NICS Intelligence (DENI) Branch. Of those screened, 4,732 denials were referred to field offices for investigation. However, only 62 prosecutions resulted from these actions,” the letter says. “A prosecution rate this low is not indicative of a Department of Justice that takes the act of illegally attempting to acquire a firearm seriously.”
The GOP members also ask Attorney General Eric Holder for records of DOJ prosecutions for federal firearms violations over the past 11 years.
At the same time, the president’s Organizing for America campaign has started an effort to ask supporters to contact their members of Congress to demand passage of a universal background check for all firearm purchases.
“If Congress passes legislation requiring universal background checks…it will be an important step toward keeping our kids and communities safer from gun violence,” Jon Carson, executive director, writes in an email plea. The email also encourages supporters to “chip in $25 or more” to the movement.
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