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 Himpton HolderUS law is not on the side of Mueller's appointment as special counsel Holder redistricting group backs lawsuits for 3 additional majority-black congressional districts Liberal groups launches ads against prospective Trump Supreme Court nominees 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 GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Republicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe Trump vows to stand with House GOP '1,000 percent' on immigration 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 SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerLawmakers question FBI director on encryption Doug Collins to run for House Judiciary chair Lawmakers renew call for end to 'black budget' secrecy MORE (Wis.), Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksFreedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Ariz.), Howard Coble (N.C.), Lamar Smith (Texas), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturers ramp up pressure on Senate to fill Ex-Im Bank board Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (Ala.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesToo much ‘can do,’ not enough candor Trump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary MORE (Va.), Steve King (Iowa), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertRepublicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe House conservatives introduce resolution calling for second special counsel White House-backed prison reform bill advances in House MORE (Texas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeFive races to watch in the Texas runoffs Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas Hillicon Valley: House Dems release Russia-linked Facebook ads | Bill would block feds from mandating encryption 'back doors' | AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger | FCC hands down record robocall fine | White House launches AI panel MORE (Texas), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTucker Carlson: Ruling class cares more about foreigners than their own people Fox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself MORE (Utah), Steve Marino (Pa.), Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyRepublicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI House GOP headed for showdown with DOJ over key documents MORE (S.C.), Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiGOP staves off immigration revolt — for now Mining rider would gut bedrock environmental law The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Tensions mount for House Republicans MORE (Nev.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs 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.