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“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. For a lot of people, there’s more ideological cache harassing Bubba at the gun show than getting a handle on gun crime.” That’s George Washington University’s Robert Cottrol commenting at on the fun fact that the Obama administration’s federal law enforcement operation is on pace this year to prosecute the fewest number of gun law violations since 2000 . . .

Think back for a moment to those dark days in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings. Federal gun law prosecutions had already been steadily falling since their peak in 2004. But with the nation reeling from the horror of 20 dead children and six adults, the greatest orator since Lincoln stood on a stump uttered this call to action:

“We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this.”

In other words, let’s crack down on people who are violating the laws already on the books. Never mind that the guns that Adam Lanza used were all purchased legally. That inconvenient detail was apparently beside the point. In addition to assigning “Double Barrel” Joe Biden to lead the push for more gun control legislation (and for that, we can’t thank you enough, Mr. President), Obama issued a clear, unambiguous call for tougher enforcement of existing firearms laws.

Somehow, though, his attorney general — the first in American history to be held in contempt of Congress, thanks to his own problems with guns — didn’t get the message. In fact, he’s openly expressed his dislike for federal enforcement of gun laws, preferring to leave that kind of dirty work up the the states. That’s right, the AG has advocated a more of a cultural approach to reducing gun crime along with implementing executive actions and mandating smart guns, since pushing legislation through Congress has been an abject failure.

And so, after a slight uptick in 2012, federal prosecutions of gun laws resumed their precipitous decline in 2013 — yes, the year that followed Sandy Hook — and continue to fall. It’s almost as if all the talk about “doing something about gun crime” is nothing but a convenient fig leaf for enacting more restrictions on law abiding gun owners and their ability to purchase firearms.

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  1. Hua… I wonder how that prosecution graph would match up to a firearms purchase graph??? In other words how many more firearms have been purchased during our Great and benevolent leader?? I think their would be some interesting data…

    Hell, nothing useful gets done because their bloody politicians… All lips and lungs but no hands or muscles… I would blame it on the dem’s but repub’s and liber’s also have the same faces and races… We need real people leading this Great Country of ours… We use too, 200 to 150 years ago, now it’s just professional lip smackers….

  2. The current downward trend started during the Bush administration, and the upward trend seen at the start of his administration started during the Clinton administration. There is something other than who is sitting in the oval office going on there.

    • Yeah, this seems a bit misleading.

      Crime is down – so it makes sense that prosecutions for crimes are down doesn’t it?

      • Is it just a coincidence that the rise starts shortly after the Brady Bill was passed in ’94 and the decline starts with it’s expiration in ’04? Not defending Holder or Obama in any way, shape or form, but I am questioning the analysis of the numbers and the washington times article that originally published it.

        • That’s a good trend I hadn’t spotted too — You’re right, With the Assault Weapon ban expiring the crime of possession of “large capacity feeding devices” and other bullshit, goes away.

        • It was the AWB, not the Brady bill, but it does appear that changes in federal laws and our declining overall crime rate can explain this, without requiring a secret conspiracy where Obama is trying to build an army of gangbangers and mafia dons.

        • Nonsense
          1.) Current admin firmly believes that “to many” thugs that “look like his son” are in prison. That they BROKE THE LAW is not relevant. Racism
          2.) Overcharge with firearms violations and then use as throwaway to get a guilty plea on something else. Used with/on those less favored by the current admin.

        • The gradual increase could be related to the AW ban in ’94, but the decrease would be a sharp cliff drop off after ’04 since the crime would no longer exist once the ban expired. Rather then a downward trend, crimes prosecuted under the AW ban would just cease to be prosecuted after expiration, instead of gradually drifting off.

  3. This here, gentlemen, is my shocked face.

    Looks a lot like your shocked face, apparently.

  4. Clinton should have 2000 and Bush should have 2008

    I agree that there could be something going on besides the CIC but OTOH the data has a lot more truthiness than the typical leftist logic failures.

  5. I never liked prosecutions as a measure. To simply say prosecutions are down doesnt really mean anything. Are the criminals not getting caught? Is the crime even being committed at the same rate? Are prosecutors holding off on iffy cases? If they go up does it mean the crime is more common or that prosecutors are getting shady and corrupt?

    Prosecutions are down or prosecutions are up doesnt really mean anything.

    Think about what it would mean if the number went up or stayed flat despite all other factors. Like there’s some prosecution quota and they’re going to find people to prosecute no matter what. That’s not good yet people would just read prosecutions are up and think the feds doing a top-notch job.

    • The same thing applies to arrests. There was recently an article about a claim by the NSA that their surveillance program had led to over one hundred arrests. My immediate thought was “Amateurs- the NKVD’s surveillance program led to hundreds of thousands of arrests, if not millions.”

      • Exactly. NK must have the most successful arrest and prosecution numbers on the planet. Truly the model of excellence.

        We say this stuff but so many think there’s some magical demarcation. That the US touting arrests and prosecutions is somehow totally different. In the US every arrest is warranted and every prosecution just.

        The Rockwell delusion for Mr. and Mrs. America.

        • NKVD does not refer to North Korea.

          Think Stalin – USSR (or Putin – Russian Federation – KGB/FSB). By any acronym and organization the lights never og out in the Lubyanka Building. Not much changes in Russia.

    • As was stated in by another poster; a lot of times the gun charges are dropped for a plea bargain deal. Chicago is a good example.

  6. Clearly this has to do with the success of the educational system as more people are able to read and understand the laws so they’re sure not to break them.

  7. But but but if you go after criminals you can’t blame the NRA and lawful gun owners. RE: Chicago…

  8. Well, how can the ATF prosecute criminals when their agents are too busy entrapping and harassing the mentally handicapped and smuggling guns to Mexican cartels?

  9. It’s social justice. Besides, if all you white slave owning rich folks hadn’t stolen everything from people of color, they wouldn’t need to shoot each other up in gang violence and drug dealing, another way whitey keeps them done. Sarcasm off.

    • But all those Greeks and Romans stole all that African technology, leaving the Africans without any technology. Tony Brown actually said this!

  10. Dear TTAG editors,
    Over the past week, I’ve noticed a few articles have confused less and fewer (and yes, I’m aware that in this case, it’s in a quote from a source, but that’s what sic is for). Less is for nonatomic quantities (e.g. less hair on his head), while fewer is for quantities of individual items (e.g. fewer hairs on his head).

    But hey, at least you’re not using begs the question to mean raises the question. That one really irks me.

    Grammar Geek

  11. We should be sure to rub this in their face anytime they propose new laws… ‘Why don’t you try enforcing the existing laws’?

  12. The Obama administration has broken the rule of law by refusing to enforce laws duly enacted by Congress. Nothing new here at all….

    • Meh. Criminals don’t care about laws anyway. That’s what makes them criminals. Even those in Government.

  13. That would be because most of the gun crimes are committed by Eric Holder’s people, and it is racist to enforce the law against them.

  14. I can’t advocate for ATF doing any kind of “enforcement” – they really need to go away – they’re doing more harm than good by creating such an adversarial relationship with gun owners, manufacturers and dealers.

    Most of your backwoods (or desert cattle-rancher) nutballs go away if the ATF does.

  15. This is not mystifying. It’s common sense that you’d not want to put your voters in jail.

  16. Because if they actually reduced the crime, they would have nothing to bitch and moan about.
    Hypocracy at its finest.

  17. “assigning “Double Barrel” Joe Biden to lead the push for more gun control legislation (and for that, we can’t thank you enough, Mr. President)”

    Tinfoil hat on, think Obama threw Biden onto that 3rd rail to protect the other people in his admin, like he did with Susan Rice, the VA director, Lerner, and it looks like is going to happen to Koskinen?

  18. Couple weekends of sweeps thru Chicago’s gang neighborhoods and they could beat the record in Bush’s highest year. And save lives of kids too.

    But, that would probably be nonPC, and result in the payola drying up…

  19. Before we jump to conclusions, might the drop in firearms-related prosecutions be caused by a drop in the number of actual firearms-related crimes?

    Also, many American gun laws are stupid and I’d be glad if no one was ever prosecuted again for owning a rifle with a barrel an inch too short or moving said rifle across state lines without asking permission from the ATF. Not all firearms-related criminal offenses are moral acts wrongfully considered crimes, but if the rate of prosecution for oppressive gun laws went into decline because of more permissive gun laws or even just laxer enforcement of bad laws I’d be happy about it.

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