- U.S. Navy to start giving gay couples marriage benefits in Japan
- Sen. Harry Reid goes to hospital as a precaution
- Fla.’s Trey Radel exits rehab, ‘excited’ to resume congressional role
- U.S. nuclear general boozed it up, chased ‘hot women’ in Russia: report
- 45 Calif. students at one school test positive for tuberculosis exposure
- Rob Ford on women: Give them cash ‘and they are happy’
- Ku Klux Klan group holds recruitment meeting in Maryland
- Airport assassination: Mayor, 3 others killed at Manila airport
- Tea party-type lawmakers take mysterious, off-books trip to Mideast
- North Korea warns South: We’ll attack ‘without warning’
Officials warn sequester could hinder gun control
Question of the Day
All sides say they want better enforcement of current gun laws, but law enforcement officials are warning the budget cuts looming at the end of this week would be a major setback to those efforts — and could end up putting more guns in the hands of criminals.
The Obama administration has told Congress that every FBI employee would be furloughed for 14 workdays and nearly $60 million would be cut from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, putting a dent in the government’s ability to investigate and prosecute gun crimes — a top priority in the wake of the December school shootings in Connecticut.
The cuts would also hit the national instant criminal background check system (NICS) for gun purchases, leading to a backlog that could allow criminals to slip though the system, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III wrote to Congress earlier this month.
When more than three days pass after a gun dealer enters a buyer’s information into the system and doesn’t get a response, that dealer can sell the gun without a final determination on the buyer’s criminal and/or mental health background — a potentially dangerous proposition, Mr. Mueller wrote.
“Delays in processing and adjudicating NICS requests increases the risk of firearms being transferred to a convicted felon or other prohibited person which, in turn, would have a significant detrimental effect on public and law enforcement safety at a time when the NICS workload is expanding,” the director said in his letter.
On average, about 43,500 background checks are performed every day, according to the FBI. The system is available seven days a week, including holidays.
The Justice Department also says that with a cut of nearly $100 million to prosecutors’ offices across the country, U.S. attorneys won’t be able to handle as many cases.
The department said it projects handling 1,600 fewer civil cases and 1,000 fewer criminal cases if the sequesters take effect.
Democrats and Republicans have called for states to turn over more records to the NICS system in the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
David Chipman, a former ATF agent who now works with the gun-control advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said the agency doesn’t have extra agents to spare, and said the impact of any cuts would be felt.
“There are twice as many gun dealers as there are post offices, and the ATF is an agency that’s smaller than the Broward County [Fla.] sheriff’s office,” Mr. Chipman said. “There are hundreds of ATF inspectors trying to oversee the conduct of tens of thousands of dealers.
“It’s already an uphill battle. Just the thought that we would have an ATF agent trained to be on the street trying to prevent the next attack, sitting at home because the government can’t pay him to work is just incredible.”
The Newtown shooting rampage has injected new energy into the push for gun control, and the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled votes on four bills later this week, including one measure to reinstitute the ban on military-style semiautomatic firearms. Republicans, however, could delay action for a week by using procedural moves.
Many Republicans have said that before passing new laws, the government should more vigorously enforce the laws already on the books.
More than 20 House Republicans joined Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in writing a recent letter to President Obama on the issue.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Actress Glenn Close, advocacy groups prod Congress on mental health legislation
- Virginia conservative offers solution to bureaucratic nightmare regarding concealed weapons
- House retirements creating pickup opportunities for Democrats and Republicans
- Senate confirms Obama pick Jeh Johnson as Homeland Security secretary
- 75 is the new old: VA DMV study recommends fitness tests for aging drivers
Latest Blog Entries
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Huge backlash mounts over suspension of 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson
- Deportations under Obama plunged to just 1 percent last year
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Sen. Harry Reid goes to hospital as a precaution
- TARGET credit card theft swells to 40 million victims
- EDITORIAL: Red faces at the White House
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Special ops vets slam military benefit cuts
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow