Those who believe that Barack Obama is an idealist first and a politician second are sorely mistaken. The Justice Department of the Obama administration decided one year ago, as his reelection effort was getting underway, to ignore proposals that would have allowed the background-check system for gun procurement to be more comprehensive.
Some of these proposals made in a Justice Department study were: allowing the FBI access to other federal agencies’ information, as that would have enabled the FBI to make sure those who are banned from buying guns such as felons, drug users, mentally “defective” persons, domestic violence criminals, and illegal immigrants, would be noticed. Private sellers would be required, just as licensed firearms dealers are already, to check purchaser’s backgrounds. There would be mandatory jail time for those who buy guns for others who cannot pass a background check.
The study suggested that the federal government incentivize states to share information with grants of roughly $100 million a year.
At the time the study was finished, Attorney General Eric Holder was under investigation for his part in the Fast and Furious scandal. The Justice Department, already under attack, had no wish to stir up any more animosity with gun owners.
Officials at the DOJ had met with police chiefs and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as they conducted the study.
Christopher Schroeder, who headed the study, said:
We have identified ways to improve the effectiveness of the background check system that we concluded would be positive and constructive and help meet the president’s objective of keeping more guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. I’m hopeful that some of these can move forward and actually be implemented.
It didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen for political reasons. So while the President and his allies push this week for heavier gun control laws, it’s worth noting that he had the opportunity to take the very steps he will now claim are vital. And he didn’t do it.