“Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.” Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords appealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday with these words to request quick action to prevent gun violence.
From the very beginning of the “What Should We Do About Gun Violence?” Senate hearing, I detected an underlying reverence for the 2nd Amendment, beginning with Senator Patrick Leahy’s description of it as a “fundamental, individual right.” Until Senator Dianne Feinstein started speaking, the focus of the hearing was mostly universal background checks and enforcement of existing federal laws.
This brought to my attention a fine organization named “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy,” a national coalition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. They are both working to prevent the illegal purchases of firearms by “straw purchasers,” which is already a federal crime.
As a conservative, I am skeptical of brand-new, innovative legislation. Wayne LaPierre’s testimony further convinced me that the federal government under the Obama Administration has neglected to prosecute existing gun crimes. While I understand the country’s reliance on the federal government to do something, it has already done many things which remain negligently unenforced.
As LaPierre stated in his testimony, federal weapons prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent in 2011 from their peak in the Bush Administration (as calculated from DOJ data accessible here).
Out of the 76,000 federal background denials in 2010, the ATF referred only 62 of those to federal prosecutors. Of these 62, prosecutors declined 18, while only 13 resulted in a guilty plea by the defendant.
U.S. attorneys charged 22 people for submitting falsified information, along with 11 convicted felons for possessing firearms and seven domestic offenders for holding weapons.
With the recent mass shootings, violence is obviously a big problem; that’s why we have prosecutors to uphold the law that enforcers apply. Where are they in this debate?