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. HolderOvernight Tech: Uber CEO resigns | Trump's Iowa tech trip | Dems push Sessions to block AT&T-Time Warner deal | Lawmakers warned on threat to election systems | Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns Holder mulling 2020 bid 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 GoodlatteThis week: Senate races toward ObamaCare repeal vote Warning: Lawsuit ads may be harmful to the health of Americans Black Dem accuses Steve King of 'white privilege' in heated exchange 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 SensenbrennerAct now on No Regulation Without Representation Increase civility, decrease violence Why Congress needs to reform structured settlements MORE (Wis.), Trent FranksTrent FranksLawmakers consider new security funding in wake of shooting GOP senators pleased with Ivanka Trump meeting on family leave, child tax credits Baseball gunman had list of GOP lawmakers: reports MORE (Ariz.), Howard Coble (N.C.), Lamar Smith (Texas), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Spencer BachusSpencer BachusBusiness groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Trump picks critic of Ex-Im Bank to lead it Spencer Bachus: True leadership 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 GohmertBudget process drags as GOP struggles for consensus GOP rep: DOJ conspiracy targeting Trump Republicans want to know why Comey didn’t write memo about Lynch MORE (Texas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Ted PoeTed PoeHouse bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension For the sake of police, don’t back the Back the Blue Act Will McConnell and Ryan put party over country in defense of Trump? MORE (Texas), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzJuan Williams: Trump refills the swamp Chaffetz: Threats against lawmakers should be taken seriously Gowdy won't use Oversight gavel to probe Russia MORE (Utah), Steve Marino (Pa.), Trey GowdyTrey GowdyIt's time for Republicans to play offense while Democrats are weak Gowdy won't use Oversight gavel to probe Russia GOP rep Gowdy on healthcare bill: ‘I try really hard not to give the Senate advice’ 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 FarentholdCongress poised to prohibit airlines from forcibly removing customers Lawmakers send well-wishes to Scalise on Twitter Ex-Obama cyber czar defends government rules for hacking tools 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.