The Department Of Justice Vows To Crack Down On Those Who Lie On Gun Background Checks

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02.23.18 9 Comments

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Many hope that the fiery teen survivors of the Florida achool shooting will turn the tide on gun control discussions, but the process of getting there will be rough. President Trump first directed the Justice Department to ban bump stocks and other devices that help mass shooters increase their body counts. Then he — confusingly — decided to push for having teachers carry guns. No one’s sure whether Congress is willing to upset the NRA with true change, but a glimmer of hope has arrived for gun-control advocates, courtesy of the DOJ.

The New York Times reports that a big package of recommendations is on the way and shall be announced soon. The particulars remain vague, but there’s a hint of compromise at hand between Second Amendment and those who desire gun control. The main takeaway, so far, is that the DOJ will “prioritize the prosecutions” of gun purchasers who lie on background check forms. Under the current system, prosecutions are not frequent for the offense that is already classified as a felony. The Times reveals that very few of the thousands of annual rejections for such fibs are punished:

Thousands of prospective gun buyers are denied firearms purchasers annually, but between 2008 and 2015, fewer than 32 cases a year were even considered for prosecution, according to the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The new directive is expected to be welcomed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is responsible for policing background check violations. But it is unclear whether federal prosecutors offices will share the enthusiasm, and whether there will be any recourse if the guidance is not heeded.

Prospective purchasers most often lie (in the space of a six-page application) about their criminal backgrounds, so if one has been convicted of a crime or even indicted for one, then they’ll be rejected. This, of course, would not have prevented Nikolas Cruz from purchasing the AR-15 he used to kill 17 people on Valentine’s Day, but at least, the Justice Department is taking some sort of a step. That’s unexpected, considering that Attorney General Jeff Sessions once mocked a medical intern who argued that guns are more dangerous than weed.

(Via New York Times)

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