Biden: We need more gun laws because we don’t have time to enforce the ones we have

posted at 8:01 am on January 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Joe Biden headed up the task force on gun violence that supposedly wanted to hear all perspectives before proposing a new raft of laws that would restrict access to weapons, magazines, and ammunition.  According to one participant, one reason that Biden and Barack Obama want new laws is because they don’t have time to enforce the laws already on the books — specifically, the laws relating to background checks that Biden and Obama want expanded:

During the National Rifle Association’s meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and the White House gun violence task force, the vice president said the Obama administration does not have the time to fully enforce existing gun laws.

Jim Baker, the NRA representative present at the meeting, recalled the vice president’s words during an interview with The Daily Caller: “And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.” …

In 2010, prosecutors considered just 22 cases of information falsification, according to a 2012 report to the Department of Justice by the Regional Justice Information Service. Forty additional background-check cases ended up before prosecutors for reasons related to unlawful gun possession.

In all, prosecutors pursued just 44 of those 62 cases. More than 72,600 applications were denied on the basis of a background check. …

Gun prosecutions in 2011 were down 35 percent from the previous administration’s peak in 2004, according to Justice Department data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Not every failed background check is due to deliberate fraud or deception, of course.  People can make mistakes like “check[ing] a wrong box” without malicious or deceptive intent.  However, I’d guess that the percentage of failures involving deception and fraud is somewhat higher than .086% of all rejected applications.

If not, then the existing background check system fails 99.91% of the time, and isn’t a deterrent to gun violence at all.  If fraud and deception occur at a higher rate than 62 out of 72,600, then rather than add to the number of background checks, we should first ask why the Department of Justice didn’t pursue more than 44 prosecutions, which is a worse rate of .0606% of all rejected applications.  If it’s that they don’t have time to check more failures, as Biden insisted, then why on Earth are we demanding a higher volume of background checks?  What we need is a higher volume of follow-up on existing red flags.

The Daily Caller asked for some clarification on this point, but …

Vice President Biden’s press office did not respond to requests for comment.

I’m not opposed to expanding background checks in principle, but what’s the point if no one follows up on the bad actors they expose in the existing system?

Update: 99.1% should have been 99.91%; I’ve fixed it above.


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