Graham to Obama: Stop 'cheerleading' for gun laws
February 13th, 2013
04:43 PM ET
1 year ago

Graham to Obama: Stop 'cheerleading' for gun laws

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham took issue with the president's calls for more gun control in his State of the Union address, saying Wednesday that the country doesn't "need a cheerleader for new gun laws."

"We need somebody to enforce the laws we have," Graham said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "I do wish the cheerleading would stop and the prosecutions begin."

Instead of expanding background checks, Graham argued, the federal government should focus on enforcing a provision in the system that prevents individuals deemed mentally unstable from purchasing guns.

His comments came the day after Obama made and emotional plea for Congress to come up with stricter firearm legislation in order to combat gun violence. But Graham said new laws are not the way to go, though he did agree with the president that Congress should at least vote on the legislation.

"No, let's vote. No, let's vote," he said when asked if he would try to block an up-or-down vote. "I don't disagree with the president. Let's vote. Let's find something that we can agree on."

Graham stated that of the 80,000 people who failed a background check last year, only 44 were prosecuted.

He was referring to a 2012 federally-funded report about 2010 data, which stated that 76,142 background check applications were denied-about one percent of the total applications that year. Nearly half were turned down because the applicant had a record of a felony indictment or conviction, while 19% of applications were made by fugitives, and 11% ran into state law prohibitions.

Of those denied, only 4,732 cases-or about 6%–were sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for investigation. The remaining 94% were not referred for investigation, or were overturned or canceled.

When an investigation is finished, the ATF and U.S. attorneys decide whether to send the case to prosecution. In 2010, a total of 62 cases were referred for prosecution, with the most common charges being falsifying information to buy firearms and being in possession of a firearm as a convicted felon or after being charged with domestic abuse.

However, 18 of those cases were dismissed, leaving 44 prosecuted.

"Mr. President, no more speeches about expanding gun laws. Start enforcing the ones we have," he said.

Asked if he thought everyone who failed a background check should be prosecuted, Graham said he assumed some people were denied because of innocent mistakes but then struggled to articulate a full response.

"But in the case of–I can give you some examples, I should have brought them with me–that if you fail the background check you're providing, you've got strawman purchases," he said. "Here's what I would suggest: Out of the 80,000, more than 44 probably did it illegally."

The senator said he was introducing his own legislation to make it more difficult for people with a history of mental instability to purchase a weapon. He acknowledged, though, that Congress will soon see "a flood of gun legislation that's going nowhere" and said lawmakers in both parties are fighting for political reasons.

"We're going to vote and people like me are going to go back to South Carolina and say I stood up for your Second Amendment rights. And my friends on the other side are going to go back to their districts and say I tried to do something about rampant gun violence. And we're all going to be talking to our bases. And at the end of the day, this problem doesn't get any more solved if all we do is talk," he said. "There's an opportunity here this time to address some areas in this emotional, real problem."

Graham added that the debate should not be solely focused on guns, adding that violence in the media, video games and mental health services should be factored into the mix.

"I've owned guns all my life. I own an AR-15. I saw the movie Django. I like Quentin Tarantino," he said chuckling. "But there are many moving parts to this....Me owning an AR-15 is not a threat to anyone because I'm not going to abuse the right to own that gun."


Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • Justice Department • Lindsey Graham • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Motivated Marine

    Dominican mama 4 obama... No AR was used in the shooting, four pistols only. BTW, I'm not an NRA member, and or some crazy gun collector (which is peoples prerogative as a US citizen), and I support the gun laws currently in effect and a new look into mental screening, what I'm really disappointed with is how my fellow americans are so willing to give up my right to own an AR platform or any other weapon I can afford, I fought for our civil rights and mine as a Marine in four different deployments in afghanistan and iraq, don't let these bureaucrats distract you, this is a way to create controversy and pit americans against each other. Why isn't anyone talking about how congress is a public service but yearly makes more than the prez and can retire after one four year term and get a severance for the rest of their lives? Brothers of mine have died for this country and their families never get a dime, they get a flag, open your eyes, if we want change we have to take personnel responsiblity.

    February 14, 2013 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  2. Royal Flush

    It's ok Lindsay you can come out now.

    February 14, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  3. karl rove

    Dear Senator Graham,

    Your lips move but all we hear is unintelligible sounds, the same sounds assumed from the Neanderthals.

    President Obama is working for the people. What have you done lately, as a public servant, for we the people? You were not elected by the majority in the country.

    February 14, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  4. SC

    @ sonny chapman: "This guy talks big but carries a little stick."

    That's all he was born with.

    February 14, 2013 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  5. AAMS

    Apparently most of the population wants universal background checks, so I think his comments are against popular opinion. 

    I would love to see better mental health services in this country; I think it would change the quality of life for many, and it could be very positive for people with violent tendencies. But I get the feeling that everyone who only promotes mental health services has never been around people with these issues. You can't force a person to take care of their health if they don't want to. It's easier to change federal law than it is to convince some menally ill people in denial about their issues. A lot of people won't get mental health services until it's diagnosed by a doctor; that would require that they seek out a doctor. Most won't. I want to know how the pro gun folks are going to identify the unfit to use a gun. We need both - gun control and mental health services. 

    February 14, 2013 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  6. Beefburger

    Butt-out China. Considering that Obama has been the top gun salesman 4 years in a row with firearms and ammo now at a premium price I would dare say that there is a disproportionate liberal bias on this page. I wonder how many entries here are by the same person.

    February 14, 2013 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  7. Sonny

    Yeah, He owns an AR 15! We can't trust him, we can't believe him, waaaa!
    Lets take it, and play with it ourselves. Oh that's right, we are too chicken to do that. Gun haters are all alike..... Sniveling, Cowering, Crying babies.

    February 14, 2013 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  8. RLF

    So let me get this straight, as I am a bit confused. All of you Liberal non gun owning sheep actually believe the crap Obama is spewing think more laws are really going to prevent another Sandy Hook Elementary from happening? Even stronger background checks which I do happen to support would not have prevented Sandy Hook from happening! You can even jump on board with Sen. Feinstins little bandwagon which looks more like a sinking ship, and if you have half of a brain realize her ban is based solely on what makes a weapon "look scary" to her not modifications that actually have a real effect on rate of fire or what a weapon may fire – those might be realistic! Nope we are worried about "scary". You can all demonize the NRA all you like, I am not a member. It just seems funny how that is all you can do is demonize them, I have yet to see a reasonable rebuttal to what the NRA has to say even 1 time. It sure is your right to disagree, but dont just dismiss them because of who they are! how about offering a reasonable idea or two.
    The president and democratic party cant seem to do it but they are the prize winners you all voted into office! Oh and dont start blaming Republicans on this. They have always had a plan submitted to be voted on long before the Democrats do. It always ends up in a we wont pass this because they began it thing or vis versa. Both parties are guilty of it no doubt, but knowing this doesnt get anything passed any sooner either!

    February 14, 2013 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  9. BOB

    enforce the laws you have on the books first. new york had plenty of laws for dwi but never did much with them. after they started enforcing them dwi dropped about 60 % you will never stop dwi com-pleatly like you wil never stop people from shooting people. but until you make people responable for there actions nothing will ever be done there are pleanty of laws allready out there

    February 14, 2013 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  10. Steve

    What an icky person. Ick!

    February 14, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  11. Scott

    He is right, Obama needs to stop cheerleading and do his job as President which he has failed at. ENforce the laws on the books is what needs to be done.

    February 14, 2013 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  12. sifto

    Thank goodness there is someone as tough as Graham who does not mind keeping Obama on his toes...

    February 14, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  13. Sonny

    "Patrol officers were dispatched to a home in the 1500 block of Vernon St. on a report that two men were fighting with hammers."
    One man died as a result of the fight.
    I guess I had better start stocking up on hammers!

    February 14, 2013 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  14. WXGuy

    Insulting a man for making his stance known. What a great way for this country to come together and forge a better Republic.

    February 14, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  15. nvmature

    No, just the opposite: Keep cheerleading for gun laws.

    February 14, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  16. aCriticalEye

    As a gun owner myself, I feel background checks are needed, loophole should be eliminated, and law breakers prosecuted. To that end, congress (Republicans specifically) should appropriate the funds to update the computer tracking system, the funds for prosecuting the law breakers, and perhaps come up with a law allowing mental health data to be included in the federal data base..

    Linsey Graham is just another deadbeat GOP/Tea Nut. He/They need to be eliminated, but I will settle for them being voted out of office.

    February 14, 2013 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  17. Cooler

    Isn't Lindsey a girl's name?
    I heard more women get guns now and I guess he's one if them.
    Yeah, 10 rounds is not enough to protect her home! What if there's an army outside?

    February 14, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  18. Dave

    He is exactly right...we don't enforce the laws we have now... why do we want to make new laws to not enforce and only hinder the law abiding people.

    February 14, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  19. Jules

    Note to Linsey Graham: Thanks for letting the world know you have an AR-15 – somebody's probably going to be coming to your house to get it and it's not President Obama or the government.

    February 14, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  20. fayray11

    Graham must represent coffin makers because there is NO other reason for him to want more firearms related deaths.

    February 14, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  21. Nicholas Smith

    I renamed my AR-15 "Piers" because it's loud, chatters endlessly, and is very dangerous unless controlled with a firm aim.

    February 14, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  22. Bush Master

    Liberals are the reason why I own weapons of small destruction. I do not trust people who hang/hung out with Rev Wright and Bill Aires.

    February 14, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
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