All Talk: Fewer Gun Crime Prosecutions Under Obama than George W. Bush

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images
Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Syracuse University’s TRAC Reports recently revealed that Obama’s tough talk about increasing prosecution of federal gun laws was just that—talk. In fact, Obama’s annual prosecution of gun crimes has never reached the levels of prosecutions seen during George W. Bush’s last five years in office.

According to Yahoo News, one of Obama’s 23 executive directives in January 2013 was to “amp up prosecutions of federal gun laws.”

Yet TRAC Reports shows that prosecutions for gun violations actually began a decline in 2013. In fact, prosecutions in 2013 were lower than 2012. Gun crime prosecutions were even lower in 2014 and actually hit an all-time low for the Obama administration in 2015. For example, “during fiscal year (FY) 2014 the Justice Department said the government obtained 20.3 weapons convictions for every one million people in the United States… [and that dropped to] 19.1 weapons convictions for one million people in the United States during FY 2015.”

To put it another way, FY 2015 represents a 15.5 percent drop in prosecutions from 5 years ago and a 34.8 percent drop from the midway point of Bush’s eight years in office.

It is interesting to note that these reductions in gun crime prosecutions have correlated with an ever increasing push for more gun control. In fact, in January 2013—the very month in which Obama called for an increase in gun crime prosecutions—Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was being tapped for a gun control push, and Gabby Giffords’s gun control PAC Americans for Responsible Solutions was founded. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America had formed in the prior month, and this meant January, February, March, and the first two weeks of April witnessed a gun control push unlike any other in American history.

Through it all, we were led to believe gun crime prosecutions were being increased, yet they would actually end the FY lower than the year before.

Ironically, crime-riddled Chicago is the perfect microcosm of the country as a whole when it comes to a failure to prosecute gun crimes coupled with a relentless push for more gun control. The NRA’s First Freedom summed it up thus: “In 2014 in Chicago, over 2,500 people were shot—nearly 400 of them fatally—and police seized more than 6,252 guns. Yet out of those 6,252 guns seized, Fardon’s federal prosecutors saw fit to pursue just 62 weapons prosecutions. In other words, for every 100 guns police seized, federal prosecutors made just one prosecution.”

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