- - Thursday, July 24, 2014

His triumph in 2012 gave President Obama the flexibility he wanted to begin an all-out push for gun control. He thought the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School would give him the momentum he needed to marshal public opinion behind White House demands for more laws to eliminate “gun violence.”

The public reaction wasn’t what he expected. The public didn’t want more laws; it wanted the laws on already on the books to be enforced. That’s precisely what the administration hasn’t been doing, according to figures obtained by our own Kelly Riddell.

The Justice Department simply won’t prosecute. Cases of enforcement are down 42 percent under Mr. Obama compared with those in the George W. Bush administration. Obama officials yawn when they could be taking a bite out of violent crime. Robert Sanders, a former assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), describes the shift in focus. “Within the later part of the Bush years,” he says, “case selections within the ATF have gone from mostly violent crime cases — which is their forte — toward the regulatory, where they look at dealers, manufacturers and trafficking cases.”

Going after street thugs and well-armed gangs isn’t sexy enough for an administration accustomed to being lionized on the likes of MSNBC and The Huffington Post.

Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to have laid the groundwork for sweeping gun- control measures, by proving a link between the availability of weapons in the United States to gun violence in Mexico. The ATF agents were only too successful in putting guns in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, which went on a killing spree that took the life of hundreds of Mexican citizens — and one U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Scrutiny following the tragedy put an end to the gunrunning, but the ATF blundered on to implement a border-state gun-registration rule for gun stores that sell more than one pistol to a customer at a time. Harassing shopkeepers has become more of a priority than going after the criminal rings that supply crack dealers with the firepower they need to protect their territory.

ATF agents would rather put on combat gear and pretend they’re Marines storming the beach at Iwo Jima when they’re actually raiding the shops of law-abiding retailers who don’t shoot back. Agents bully owners into turning over private information about customers. The Justice Department intimidates banks to cut off loans to gun dealers through something called Operation Choke Point.

If the president wants more gun-control laws, he ought to show he’s serious about enforcing the laws he has, and against real crooks.