Would-be gun buyers who lie on background-check forms are only rarely prosecuted
HERE‘s an area where both sides in the gun-control debate can agree:
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 staggeringly low number of prosecutions for people who “lie and try,” as it is called by law enforcement officials, is being studied by the Obama administration as it considers measures to curb gun violence after the Connecticut elementary school shootings in December.
A task force headed by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.is expected to offer proposals to President Obama as early as Tuesday. It is looking at a wide range of issues linked to gun crimes, including violence in video games and movies, and gaps in mental health treatment and background checks…
Increasing the number of prosecutions for lying on background-check forms is an effort that the administration can undertake largely on its own, in part by pressing federal prosecutors to pursue such cases. It is also one measure that both sides of the gun-control debate have agreed upon.
It is a felony to deliberately provide false information in an effort to buy a gun, and studies financed by the Justice Department show that people who do so are more likely than the average person to commit violent crimes after they are denied a firearm purchase…
A conviction usually carries a maximum sentence of just six months, the official said, adding that with a limited number of federal prosecutors the government has to prioritize its use of resources.
Although gun control advocates have been more vocal about the issue, the N.R.A. also supports similar action, arguing that the administration should enforce the gun laws that already exist before making new ones.