The National Rifle Association which announced it had enrolled 100,000 new members in one week after the national tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut, is apparently so strong in Congress that, according to The New York Times of January 11, “The White House has calculated that a ban on military-style assault weapons will be exceedingly difficult to pass through congress and is focusing on other measures it deems more politically achievable.”
We learned what the new approach would be three days later. The Times reported, “Nearly 80,000 Americans were denied guns in 2010, according to Justice Department data, because they lied or provided inaccurate information about their criminal histories on background check forms. Yet only 44 of those people were charged with a crime.”
The Times article goes on, reporting on a Justice Department study which “show[s] that people who do so [lie on their application] are more likely than the average person to commit violent crimes after they are denied a firearm purchase.”
Hosanna in the highest. I agree that it would make great common sense were all of these people who have perjured themselves – lying under oath – to be prosecuted. Indeed there are more convictions in these fraudulent gun applications — 44 have been prosecuted — than in frauds committed by bankers and Wall Street brokers in the Great Recession, where no CEO of a Wall Street firm or banking corporation has been prosecuted for fraud. The Great Recession cost the American public an estimated $6 trillion in losses. Indeed, some bankers and Wall Street brokers have admitted to criminality, but the federal government in all of these cases has not charged a single CEO or director with criminality. Instead, the federal government announced on a number of occasions with pride civil settlements involving millions and on occasion more than a billion dollars which the CEOs and directors accepted with alacrity and undoubtedly consider as the cost of doing business. Who pays the fines? Ultimately, the stockholders.
Just as prosecuting those who lied on their gun permit applications might deter them from future criminal activity, so might the brokers of Wall Street and the bankers be deterred, were some of them to spend some time in prison.
There is still time. The statute of limitations hasn’t yet run out on all cases.
I believe now is the time to close the gun show loophole where buyers do not have to be checked for mental illness or felonies. Remember, 40 percent of all guns sold are sold at gun shows. Surely the most ardent N.R.A. member doesn’t want a gun to be in the hands of a mentally disabled person or a felon.