Jim Baker, NRA-ILA's Director of Federal Affairs, represented NRA at the meeting. As detailed in a recent Daily Caller article, Mr. Baker was given five minutes to present NRA's concerns and the approach NRA saw as being the most effective way to safeguard our children. During those five minutes, Baker mentioned the need to vigorously prosecute existing gun laws. He further noted the low number of prosecutions for falsifying information on Form 4473s, and the low felony prosecution rate for gun crimes in general.
In response to Mr. Baker's comments, Vice-President Biden said, "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." That's right: Biden said the administration just doesn't have time to prosecute crimes (felonies punishable by up to a 10-year prison sentence) under existing laws, but is proposing a host of sweeping new laws.
According to federal statistics cited in the Daily Caller article, in 2010, prosecutors considered just 22 cases of information falsification, and 40 additional background-check cases ended up before prosecutors for reasons related to unlawful gun possession. Prosecutors pursued just 44 of those 62 cases, although more than 72,600 applications were denied on the basis of a background check. Overall, gun prosecutions per capita in 2011 were down 35 percent from the previous administration's peak in 2004.
"We think it is problematic when the administration takes lightly the prosecutions under existing gun laws and yet does not seem to have a problem promoting a whole host of other gun laws," said Baker. "If we are not going to enforce the laws that are on the books, it not only engenders disrespect for the law but it makes law-abiding gun owners wonder why we are going through this exercise we are going through now."
Commenting on the administration's inability to prosecute persons who lie to obtain a firearm, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox said, "They don't have time to pursue people who are dangerous, who aren't supposed to get guns, and the message they have sent is literally 'Good luck, go get them elsewhere.' You can talk all you want," Cox continued, "but until there is a will to follow through, then it is literally just going to paper over the problem and guarantee that bad people continue to have access to firearms and good people will be blamed for it."