Left-leaning Politifact twisted itself in knots to declare Sen. Ted Cruz’s data on gun prosecutions declining under President Obama as “mostly false.”
In fact, the Republican senator correctly stated on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Nov. 8 that “Under President Bush, prosecution of gun crimes was 30 percent higher than it is under President Obama.”
Politifact first accused Mr. Cruz of “cherry picking” by comparing the year with the highest number of prosecutions under President George W. Bush, which was 11,015 in 2004, to the 7,774 under Mr. Obama in 2012.
To make his point, the senator can choose to take the highest number in the Bush administration. But there is no debating that if Mr. Cruz selected any year from 2002 to 2008, it would have shown more prosecutions than 2012.
“The point of this data is that more can be done to target violent criminals, and this administration has not made that a priority,” Mr. Cruz’s spokesman, Catherine Frazier, told me Friday. “The senator believes that our focus must be on prosecuting those who commit gun crimes, not taking away the Second Amendment rights of those who follow the laws.”
Second, Politifact found fault in the source of the correct data. Mr. Cruz cited the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse from Syracuse University, which tracks prosecutions in which the lead charge is firearms-related.
If you dig into the charges, the most common prosecution is for a felon possessing a firearm. The entire background check system was devised under President Bill Clinton to stop criminals from buying guns, yet 5,487 felons were charged in 2012 with possession. It doesn't say how many of these were prosecuted.
Politifact didn’t like the Syracuse data when the lead charge was gun related, so instead used other Justice Department figures in which gun charges were included in higher charges. By looking at all charges, it benefits Mr. Obama because the 2004 number (12,962) was the lowest in Mr. Bush’s presidency. But still, that number is higher than the 11,728 prosecutions in 2012.
Nevertheless, the Justice figures are irrelevant to the debate on gun control because new laws aren’t aimed at reducing overall violence, just access to firearms.
The number of prosecutions is related to the call by Mr. Obama and gun grabbers like New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg for a federal “universal background check,” so that even private exchanges have to go through the government.
Mr. Leno said to Mr. Cruz, “A complete psychopath can go to a gun show and buy a half a dozen guns. And hasn’t your bill made it easier to go across state lines to buy guns?”
That’s just Hollywood liberalism at its worst.
Last spring, Mr. Cruz co-sponsored with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa the GOP alternative amendment to the “universal background checks” bill pushed by Mr. Obama and some Senate Democrats. Grassley-Cruz would have focused on prosecuting existing laws on background checks instead of trying to bring more law-abiding gun owners into a broken system.
The critical problem with the current background check system is that the bad guys aren’t getting caught when they attempt to illegally buy guns.
According to the most recent data from 2010, 94 percent of denials for gun purchases through the FBI’s National Instant Background Checks System were not investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
As I wrote in my book, “Emily Gets Her Gun,” of all the cases investigated by ATF field offices in 2010, only 62 charges were referred to prosecutors. Then only 13 charges led to guilty pleas. So from the original denied background checks at the licensed dealer, only two out of every 10,000 ended in getting a criminal off the street.
Mr. Cruz is absolutely correct that prosecutions for gun crimes has not been a priority for this White House, which is proven in the statistics.
Mr. Obama has focused his second term on things like the “assault weapons ban” and “universal background checks” — neither of which has ever been proven to reduce violence, which is all that matters.
We rate Mr. Cruz’s claim as true.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times andauthor of "Emily Gets Her Gun" (Regnery, 2013).
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