Guns confiscated recently in crime-torn Chicago. (AP Photo)
A group of 23 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee Friday sent letters to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding existing gun laws be enforced before additional limitations are passed.
The committee, which has held hearings in recent weeks on ways to prevent gun violence, again called into focus statistics that show a dramatic drop in federal weapons prosecutions over the past decade.
The letters cite a Syracuse University study that show firearms prosecutions under President George W. Bush peaked at 11,015 in 2004 while the Obama administration has prosecuted about 7,774 firearms cases in 2012.
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“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,” Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., 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.”
Highlighting the crime rise in Chicago, the president’s hometown, the lawmakers pointed out that the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago, is ranked the lowest of all federal court districts in firearms prosecutions despite a surge in gun-related violence.
“In a city like Chicago, which saw 506 murders last year, it is appalling that the U.S. attorney’s office in that jurisdiction only prosecuted 25 federal firearms cases during 2011,” the group wrote.
The letter also points out that of the 76,142 gun permit requests that were denied following background checks by federally-licensed firearms dealers, only 4,732 were referred for prosecution. Of that total, only 62 prosecutions resulted.
In addition to Goodlatte, the letters were signed by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Howard Coble (N.C.), Lamar Smith (Texas), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Spencer Bachus (Ala.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Randy Forbes (Va.), Steve King (Iowa), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Ted Poe (Texas), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Steve Marino (Pa.), Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Blake Farenthold (Texas), George Holding (N.C.), Doug Collins (Ga.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.) and Keith Rothfus (Pa.).
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