Report: Gun Prosecution Cases Plunge Under Obama

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 08:55 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The number of prosecutions in gun violation cases by the Justice Department has plunged under President Barack Obama despite his vow to enact tougher gun control laws, The Washington Times reported.

In 2013, there were 5,082 cases referred by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, contrasting with the 6,791 cases during the final year of George W. Bush’s administration, accord to data the Times obtained from the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys.

The 2013 figure is 42 percent lower than the record year of gun prosecutions of ATF cases in 2004 under Bush, according to information which was analyzed for the Times by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The number of prosecutions this year has plummeted even more with the Justice Department on pace to prosecute the least number of ATF cases since 2000, long before the drug wars in Mexico resulted in greater violence along the U.S. side of the border, the Times said.

"We have this irony; the Obama administration, which is asking for more in the way of gun regulations — in terms of increased background checks for private sales and at gun shows — is actually prosecuting less of the gun laws already on the books," Robert Cottrol, a gun control historian at George Washington University, told the Times.

"For a lot of people, there’s more ideological cache harassing Bubba at the gun show than getting a handle on gun crime."

The reduction in firearms cases conflicts with Obama’s promise, following the deadly shooting spree at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, to cut the flow of illegal weapons being used in criminal activity in the United States.

Despite Obama pressing for new laws to restrict gun ownership, the number of prosecutions at 94 federal judicial districts has actually fallen from 5,935 in 2012 to 5,082 in 2013, with a further reduction to around 4,500 this year.

The total number of cases recommended for prosecution by the ATF also plunged from a high of a high of 17,877 in 2004 under Bush to 12,066 last year, according to the data analyzed by Syracuse University for the Times.

Federal prosecutors and former ATF agents told the newspaper that the Justice Department is now concentrating on gun regulation cases instead of bringing charges against criminals who may use a gun violently in just one offense.

"Within the latter part of the Bush years, case selections within the ATF have gone from mostly violent crime cases, which is their forte, toward the regulatory, where they look at dealers, manufacturers and trafficking cases," Robert Sanders, a former ATF assistant director, told the newspaper.

"The agency’s philosophy has shifted to guns are the problem and access to guns are the problem, rather than the criminal being the direct indicator of crime."

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