Graham, Gowdy push US AG on lack of gun background prosecutions
By Sam Tysonstyson@abcnews4.com
WASHINGTON (WCIV) - Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Trey Gowdy on Thursday pressed U.S. Attorney General on why there are so few prosecutions on failed firearms background checks.
The letter comes about a week after Graham held a press conference on the problems with existing gun laws.
According to the letter sent to Eric Holder's office, Graham and Gowdy said there were more than 76,000 failed gun purchases in 2012 as a result of a failed background check. Nineteen percent of those were due to the applicant being a fugitive from justice and another 2.5 percent was due to the applicant being a convicted felon, Graham and Gowdy said.
The letter states only 13 guilty pleas came from prosecuting those offenders.
"While we understand that not every denial needs to be prosecuted, every case involving a fugitive from justice or felon in possession of a firearm should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," wrote Graham and Gowdy.
The duo asked for 2012 NICS denials for prosecution to find out if the lack of prosecutions is due to a lack of funding. Graham said the budget can be reallocated to allow for a greater number of prosecutions.
"Too many of the legislative proposals being mentioned thus far are driven by politics and have been proven ineffective in the past," wrote Graham and Gowdy. "While we do not claim to know everything about gun violence, we do know that a common-sense solution does not involve limiting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. Instead, we should focus on enforcing current law and keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them."
The push from Graham came after he was alerted to the Alice Boland incident at Ashley Hall School in Charleston.
On Feb. 4, police say 28-year-old Boland showed up outside the school with a loaded gun, waving it and pointing it at school officials. She reportedly pulled the trigger multiple times, but the gun did not discharge.
Police later said the gun was fully functional and that the only thing that prevented it from firing was a round in the chamber.
Last week, Graham said he would be introducing legislation to push up the number of prosecutions, saying that the government needed to stop "people like Alice Boland" from ever getting a gun.
"My advice to Congress is this: Instead of expanding the background check, let's fund a way to stop a person who threatens the president from getting a gun," he said. "Let's find a way to make sure Alice Boland will never get a gun."
Boland has a history of mental illness and violent outbursts.
Federal charges were filed against her in 2005 after an outburst in a Montreal airport in which she threatened the lives of security at then-President George W. Bush. At a later Secret Service interview, she repeated the threats - this time extending the threat to the lives of members of Congress - and the charges were filed.
In 2009, the charges were dismissed after she pleaded guilty by reason of insanity.
Boland's story, and her alleged arrival on the sidewalk in front of Ashley Hall School, has led to a pair of bills in South Carolina's General Assembly.
A House version started by Reps. Eddie Tallon and Rick Quinn and quickly adopted by Andy Patrick, Leon Stavrinakis, Attorney General Alan Wilson and members of the law enforcement community was filed Wednesday.
Sens. Chip Campsen and Gregory and Courson have a companion bill in the state Senate.
The bills set up a state database to report people who have been adjudicated mentally ill to the federal database gun shops use for background checks. The State Law Enforcement Divison would be responsible for transferring records to the federal database.
"We don't need to wait for the gun to work one day before we take this step," Stavrinakis said.