According to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation, over 100,000 convicted felons or other “prohibited persons” have tried to buy guns by lying on their applications each year during President Barack Obama’s administration. However, the Justice Department only considered prosecuting 30 to 40 individuals.
The Obama administration consistently did not prosecute known criminals who tried to buy guns, despite publicly aligning with anti-gun activists:
“A June 2016 Justice Department Inspector General’s report revealed that between 2008 and 2015 the U.S. Attorneys office considered prosecuting ‘less than 32 people per year’ for lying on form 4473, the federal application to buy guns.”
Obama’s biggest critics are, surprisingly, gun manufacturers:
“’People could do what is called, ‘lie and buy,” explained Lawrence Keane, a senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents gun manufacturers. ‘But very infrequently is anyone ever prosecuted. What’s the point of making it a crime if you don’t enforce it?’ he asked in an interview with TheDCNF.”
Daniel D. Roberts confirmed that, even though they have rap sheets, more than 100,000 criminals attempt to buy guns. Roberts was named Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in 2009.
“’When I was there, it was running around 100,000 a year of firearm purchasers that tried to go through to buy guns. I think it’s more than 100,000 now,’ he told TheDCNF in an interview. ‘That should trigger a referral to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for investigation for lying on the forms.’”
Only 2 of every 10 gun denials were sent to the field offices for prosecution, according to a Justice Department report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 and 2014. Eight denials out of 10 are never prosecuted.
The bureau uses the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to conduct background checks on potential gun buyers. Roberts ran this system until he left the office last year.
Dave Workman, senior editor of Gunmag.com claimed that there were only a few prosecutions of people who lied on their forms simply because the Obama administration didn’t want to spend the money. Gunmag.com is a publication owned by the Second Amendment Foundation, who focus on pro-gun rights:
“’The Justice Department didn’t want to spend the money or interest or time to prosecute the key people who lied on their 4473,’ he told TheDCNF in an interview.”
The Inspector General claimed that prosecuting these people would not have been a valuable use of the Department’s resources.
“Prosecutors ‘hold the view that prosecuting subjects for false statements on a firearm application absent other aggravating circumstances may not be the best use of Department resources,’ The Executive Office of U.S. Attorney said.”
However, Keane claims that the decision eliminated a “deterrent effect.”
This news directly contradicts the Obama administration’s image of being tough on those who lied to buy guns:
“’It was unusual for an administration that was so ideological on gun control to not go after these guys when they essentially had been caught red-handed,’ he said. ‘That I find a little bit disturbing.’”
Many gun control activists are commenting on the lack of Obama prosecutions. “Everytown For Gun Safety,” a pro-gun control advocacy group commented on the issue.
“’It is a federal crime for felons and other prohibited gun purchasers to attempt to buy a gun. The (U.S.) Department of Justice, however, has not been prosecuting people who fail background checks at licensed gun dealers,’ the group stated on its website.”
Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence told TheDCNF that people who lie on their gun applications should be prosecuted.
“’They’re subverting decades-old federal law that keeps guns out of the hands of dangerous people,’ he told TheDCNF in an email.
‘At Brady, we’d like to see the Department of Justice encourage its prosecutors to pursue these criminal acts,’ Gardiner said.”
In addition to not prosecuting those who lie on their application, denial rates for gun applications have dropped significantly during the Obama administration. In 1999 the rate was 17.2 denials per thousand. In 2015, that number dropped to only 5.5 denials.
There are 10 categories of “prohibited persons” that are barred from ever buying a gun, under federal law. These include convicted felons, drug addicts, those committed to a mental institution, dishonorably discharged veterans, people with restraining orders or who have stalked people, and people convicted of domestic violence against women.
Recently there have been multiple cases of mass shootings that resulted because people who were not supposed to have guns were able to purchase them. This was the case when Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others. Kelley met at least three of the criteria that should have prohibited him from ever purchasing a gun.
After the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, Obama issued a report titled “Now is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence.”
“The Attorney General would ask U.S. Attorneys to consider whether additional efforts would be appropriate in areas such as the prosecution of felons who illegally seek to obtain a firearm, and persons who attempt to evade the NICS system by providing false information,” one part of the plan stated.
The rate of prosecution of people who lie on their gun applications has been steadily low since the Obama administration and continues to decrease.
“There are a lot of laws that have been passed that mandate that records be submitted to the NICS at the FBI,” Morris said. “But in the end of the day, if there’s no accountability, if there’s no consequences for not entering the data, then the system is broken at that point.”