Banned gun buyers are getting past background checks but they aren’t even prosecuted when they’re caught
06/06/2018 / By JD Heyes / Comments
Banned gun buyers are getting past background checks but they aren’t even prosecuted when they’re caught

In recent weeks, following shootings at schools in Florida and Texas, the customary calls for additional gun control laws from the predictable Left were heard anew.

Some political leaders responded to those calls. For instance, the Florida legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law raising the legal age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 (though the federal age remains 18).

But rational, thinking people know that new laws are no panacea when it comes to solving gun violence. In fact, laws — in many instances — don’t seem to help much or matter at all, especially when they’re not being enforced.

As reported by The Washington Times, laws aimed at thwarting people who are legally prohibited from purchasing firearms are routinely flouted. Worse, the federal government just as routinely fails to pursue prosecutions of individuals who aren’t supposed to have guns but who nevertheless attempt to purchase one anyway.

The paper noted one recent case that was ignored by federal prosecutors. 

Francis Neeley, a three-decade veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives noted a case in 2016 where a convicted felon from Colorado lied about his criminal past while attempting to buy firearms at two upstate New York gun shops.

The man did not pass background checks and was denied the guns. In addition, the shops notified federal law enforcement because dishonesty on a firearms application is a federal crime. However, the man went back to Colorado before federal agents could catch up to him.


Neeley took the case to federal prosecutors seeking criminal charges and a warrant for the man’s arrest. But prosecutors refused to take the case, citing current Justice Department policy requiring them to only take on the most serious instances where someone lies on a federal application — whatever those are.

The man was never charged. New York state prosecutors agreed that the case warranted attention but didn’t take it because there were no funds available to send investigators to Colorado and bring the man back. (Related: Blood on his hands: Obama’s DOJ purged 500,000 fugitives from the FBI’s instant background check database.)

And this sort of thing happens all the time.

How about we enforce existing laws?

“We at the ATF have limited resources, and how much time are we going to invest in a case that isn’t going to be prosecuted?” Neeley told The Times. “You just pray that this guy doesn’t walk into a place and kill someone with a firearm he gets on the street.”

Current law prohibits anyone with a felony record, fugitives, the mentally incapable, illegal aliens, and those with domestic violence convictions from applying to buy firearms. But every year tens of thousands of those people try to buy guns anyway. Some actually do, but few of those who lie on their applications are pursued legally.

The Times noted:

Of those tens of thousands of purchase attempts, the ATF referred fewer than 600 to federal prosecutors between 2008 and 2015. U.S. attorney’s offices then whittled that number down further, considering 254 cases, or an average of 32 a year, for possible prosecution, according to the most recently available statistics compiled by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Since prosecutions are so rare, analysts and experts say there really is no deterrent for those who are banned from buying guns to try to do so anyway. That said, they add that this matters because lives are being put at risk.

“This is an important enough issue that it ought to be addressed,” Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who is now in private practice, told The Times. “If it saves just one person’s life, it’s worth the enforcement.”

We don’t need more gun laws. We need the laws already on the books enforced. AG Jeff Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to go after so-called “lie and try” gun-buying cases. 


J.D. Heyes is editor of The National Sentinel and a senior writer for Natural News and News Target.

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