Thursday, February 16, 2012
Does Fast and Furious prove we need new gun laws?
I've heard that "straw purchasers" aren't really punished - that it's like a traffic ticket. Democrats are calling Federal "gun trafficking" law. What laws are on the books now? What are the penalties?
First, anyone who buys or transfers a firearm at a US gun dealer is required to fill out an ATF Form 4473. There are several questions on the form, including “Are you the actual purchaser of this firearm?” This is aimed directly at “straw purchasing”. The form must be signed under penalty of perjury. The penalty for just one instance of lying on the form is up to FIVE YEARS in prison. This is what Democrats call “the same as a traffic ticket”. When one considers that most straw purchasers buy more than one gun and usually fill out more than one form, it’s really easy to effectively be looking at a virtual life sentence. How much more do they want?
What about the “trafficker” – the black market gun dealer? Well, if he ordered the straw buyer to go buy the guns and give him the money, he is guilt of conspiracy (felony), suborning perjury (felony – five years each offense) and “being in the business of selling firearms without a license” (another felony). If they take the gun over a state line and sell it, that’s another felony. It seems like we already have a lot of laws to use against “gun traffickers”.
What about smuggling over the border into Mexico? Well, to transport guns out of the county without a State Department license is – you guessed it – another felony. In fact, the ATF clearly violated this law in Fast and Furious. (Why do I believe they are going to skate on that?)
So is the problem that we do not have enough laws? I think not.
Meanwhile, according to this report, Federal gun prosecutions have been falling since Obama took office. In fact, if you look back to 1993 you will see that at the same time President Clinton was pushing gun control, prosecutions dropped. In fact the lowest number of prosecutions was under his watch. They were climbing as GW Bush took office and they continued to climb, peaking in 2005 when the Bush DOJ prosecuted more than twice as many gun crime cases as Clinton did in 1997. They dropped slightly in Bush’s last two years – and they have continued to drop under Obama. (Down 13% since he took office.)
A gun dealer once told me how it works – and as I look back over the last 40 years, I think he is right. Democrats back off on gun law prosecutions so they can argue more effectively for more laws. When Republicans are running the DOJ and ATF, they enforce they laws to make the point that we do not need new laws.
The last thing that the Obama administration should get out of this criminal enterprise is the new, restrictive gun laws this illegal operation was designed to obtain.