GOP lawmakers call on Obama, Holder to enforce gun laws

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are calling on President Obama and Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderDOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm Venture capital firm sues ex-Uber CEO for fraud Justice Dept. to meet with journalism group on subpoena guidelines MORE to prosecute more people for lying on their firearm permit applications and committing other gun-related crimes.

In letters to Obama and Holder on Friday, the group of 23 GOP lawmakers — led by Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteCongressional investigations — not just special counsels — strengthen our democracy How Trump's legal immigration cuts could be a blessing to Dreamers Judiciary Committee Republicans want a second special counsel: report MORE (Va.) — highlighted a declining number of federal weapons prosecutions in recent years, as well as a low number of prosecutions of people who have had their gun permit applications rejected.
 

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The Republicans say those numbers show that more attention and resources should be placed on enforcing current firearms laws before the White House and Congress move to enact new ones.
 
“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,” Goodlatte said in a statement accompanying the letters.
 
“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 letters pull largely from a recent Syracuse University study that found the number of federal weapons prosecutions fell from about 11,000 under President George W. Bush’s administration in 2004 to about 7,770 under the Obama administration in 2012.
 
The study also shows that despite the decline in recent years, federal weapons prosecutions were higher in 2012 than at any point prior to 2001. The GOP letters do not include this statistic.
 
The Republican call for stricter enforcement of current gun laws has also been made repeatedly by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the face of the largely Democratic push for tighter gun restrictions after a gunman at the Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 children and six adults.
 
“We need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books,” said the NRA’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. “Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works. Unfortunately, we've seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years.”
 
The Syracuse University study tried to determine exactly how frequently current gun laws were being enforced, but found that due to “the diversity of statutes, there is no single best way to assess the level of federal gun prosecutions.”
 
The study also found that local and state police departments have more overall resources to bring weapons violators to court than “the much smaller number [of] federal agencies and U.S. Attorneys” and that “state and local gun prosecutions almost certainly dwarf anything that is done by the federal government.”
 
The letters also cited numbers from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), which found in 2010 that only 62 prosecutions and 4,700 investigations arose from more than 76,000 people failing to pass their instant background checks when attempting to buy a gun.
 
The Republicans asked Holder to give the committee annual records for the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of people who have failed their background checks or committed a firearms-related crime.
 
In addition to Goodlatte, the letters were signed by Reps. Jim SensenbrennerJames SensenbrennerMnuchin: Trump administration examining online sales tax issue Trump reopens fight on internet sales tax Act now on No Regulation Without Representation MORE (Wis.), Trent FranksTrent FranksGOP lawmaker: 'Quit electing' Dems for national security OPINION | Senate must end the tyranny of the minority and abolish the filibuster GOP House member calls on Mueller to resign MORE (Ariz.), Howard Coble (N.C.), Lamar Smith (Texas), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Spencer BachusSpencer BachusBusiness pressure ramps up against Trump's Ex-Im nominee Trump considering withdrawing Ex-Im nominee: report Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee MORE (Ala.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Randy ForbesRandy ForbesTrump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary Trump likely to tap business executive to head Navy: report MORE (Va.), Steve King (Iowa), Louie GohmertLouie GohmertLawmakers press DOJ to help victims of Ponzi scheme House approves spending bill with funds for Trump's border wall House avoids floor fight over transgender people in military MORE (Texas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Ted PoeTed PoeLawmakers press DOJ to help victims of Ponzi scheme House calls for release of political prisoners in Iran Time for the Trump administration to pursue regime change in Iran MORE (Texas), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCurtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Chaffetz named Harvard Institute of Politics fellow Fox's Chaffetz: Rosenstein has 'absolutely zero credibility' on going after leakers MORE (Utah), Steve Marino (Pa.), Trey GowdyTrey GowdyCongressional investigations — not just special counsels — strengthen our democracy These 5 House Republicans are ripping their Senate colleagues over healthcare House Intelligence Republican: Claims Gowdy acted as second lawyer for Kushner 'horses---t' MORE (S.C.), Mark AmodeiMark AmodeiTrump’s EPA budget cuts hit strong opposition at House panel Healthcare vote puts Heller in a bind Liberal group funds 0K in attack ads after healthcare vote MORE (Nev.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdFederal court finds Texas maps discriminate against minorities Female protesters hold mock duel against GOP lawmaker who suggested one GOP lawmaker on Murkowski: 'Snatch a knot in their ass' MORE (Texas), George Holding (N.C.), Doug Collins (Ga.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.) and Keith Rothfus (Pa.). 
 
Many Democrats on Capitol Hill have joined Obama in pushing for tighter gun laws, including a ban on assault-style weapons, a limit to the number of rounds a magazine can hold, a requirement for universal background checks at gun shows and private sales, and strict prohibitions on people with mental illness owning a firearm.