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 HolderAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats Oregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps 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 GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line 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 SensenbrennerProtecting the fundamental right of all Americans to have access to the voting booth Republicans compare Ron Johnson to Joe McCarthy: NYT GOP puts pressure on Pelosi over Swalwell MORE (Wis.), Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Arizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems MORE (Ariz.), Howard Coble (N.C.), Lamar Smith (Texas), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank On The Money: White House files notice of China tariff hikes | Dems cite NYT report in push for Trump tax returns | Trump hits Iran with new sanctions | Trump praises GM for selling shuttered Ohio factory | Ex-Im Bank back at full strength MORE (Ala.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesDaschle Group hires first GOP lobbyist Overnight Defense: US sanctions NATO ally Turkey over Russian defense system | Veterans groups, top Democrats call for Wilkie's resignation | Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon board Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon advisory panel MORE (Va.), Steve King (Iowa), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertDemocrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled Greene fined a third time for refusing to wear mask on House floor The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems eye legislative deal by the end of the week MORE (Texas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeSheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion Texas New Members 2019 MORE (Texas), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (Utah), Steve Marino (Pa.), Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (S.C.), Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiGOP lawmakers introduce measure in support of Columbus Day Democratic poll finds Cortez Masto leading Laxalt by 4 points in Nevada Senate race Western US airports face jet fuel shortage MORE (Nev.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations 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.