Graham to Obama: Stop 'cheerleading' for gun laws
February 13th, 2013
04:43 PM ET
5 years 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. The Real Tom Paine

    Then appropriate the money needed to do the job. Fund the ATF. Stop being a cheerleader/prefessional victim for the NRA.

    February 13, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Shorter Graham: "Waaaaaah, stop convincing people so effectively that the GOP/Teatrolls are wrong!!!! And hey...I'm supposed to be the only one who plays with pompoms on capotaol hill!"

    Get that quasi-man a tissue and a fainting couch.

    February 13, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Clarke

    Then do something Graham to help enforce the law, instead of being a nay sayer.

    February 13, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Hotdog

    Linsey Graham is pathetic. He is an empty wagon and it is a shame that he continues to get elected and brings no value to the discussion. He is nothing but a sissy!

    February 13, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    This guy talks big but carries a little stick.

    February 13, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. texasnotea

    Lindsay Graham is having a Rick Perry moment. When you don't or can't say anything intelligent, just say something really stupid. That'll do it!

    February 13, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Me owning an AR-15 is not a threat to anyone because I'm not going to abuse the right to own that gun."
    But some OTHER nutjob might.
    Hello? Connecticut.
    Round and 'round and 'round it swirls.

    February 13, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. Martha in CF

    OK Graham so you have the BIG guns and you respect them. That fact is that their are more that don't respect the guns. They get into the wrong hands and terrible things happen. The government is not going to take your guns away. The NRA, I wouldn't belong to that organization and pay them one red cent for the crap that has come out of their mouths.
    You are a nay sayer Graham-your are a typical redumblican with vile statements coming out of your mouth. Pretty soon we will have tanks sitting in our yards because -–YOU ARE NOT TAKING ANY WEAPONS FROM ME!!!!!!
    Get real already!!!!!!!! Vote on it-see what the outcome is

    February 13, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. richard

    im glad obama is trying for new gun laws since republicans dont want to

    February 13, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    82% of Americans (gun owners and non) that agree with President Obama to Graham: STFU.

    February 13, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Mark in Seattle

    The space in Lindsey's head must be a very scary place.

    February 13, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    This nasty idiot needs to shut up...

    February 13, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. BigTBone

    I live in SC and am absolutely embarrassed at the politicians these country-fried rubes keep sending back to DC.

    The good senator here is a loudmouthed mother hen. Someone should pluck his feathers to quiet him down.

    February 13, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. ultralance12

    Lol. He and his buddies spend years trying to strip the ATF of its powers going so far as to not allow a person to be nominated to run the department and then whines that we aren't enforcing the laws we have. Obama should request $10 Billion dollars to fully fund the ATF and all existing gun laws on the books. Then we can see if they really want them enforced.

    February 13, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Bob

    Lindsey is fast becoming as much of a full-time idiot as Louie Gohmert and Palin.

    February 13, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  16. don in albuquerque

    Apparently Lindsey did not get the memo about over half the country wanting stricter gun controls. But then that still seems to be the issue with the whole GOTP congress-they just did not get it, and still do not.

    February 13, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. yane

    what a nasty man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. diogeron

    Lindsey's pandering to the knuckle draggers in the SC GOP primary with this nonsense. He surely knows better, but god forbid he would actually have the cojones to stand up to the extremists in his party who think any reasonable gun control initiatives is a commie plot.

    February 13, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. norma jean

    Lindsey Graham is a wimp......he and his little buddy John McCain are yesterdays leftovers and they will say or do anything to keep themselves in the spotlight..... They should both retire and get their tiresome complains out of the way so the people in charge can get on with the business of running the country including major changes in the problems with the NRA!!!!

    February 13, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Terry

    Graham is right. Congress will make little if any changes to the gun laws. The last assault weapon ban had no effect on crime rates. There may be increased background checks (OK with me). More attention needs to be given to preventing mentally disturbed individuals from obtaining firearms. And gun owners MUST secure their firearms.

    February 13, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Lilli

    Lindsey Graham is pathetic!! He's part of the "make POTUS fail" gang and no matter what the Pres. says or does will ever satisfy folk like him!! I was born and raised in SC....I know his kind but surely in the 21st Century I expected it to be different!! Rude awakening for most civilized people!

    February 13, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. rs

    Graham- Stop cheeleading for the NRA and the gun-huggers!

    February 13, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  23. Larry L

    South Carolina is sliding down that slippery slope towards the #1 most stereotypically red state. That would make it the fattest, most intolerant, most bigoted, most obstructive, and most completely ignorant State in the United States. Lindsey Graham can take a lot of the credit for that demise.

    February 13, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Enosh

    You notice Obama did not say much about guns. I hope they do propose some reaching gun legislation. I have lived in all over the country and in only a few places do I think that would go over well. I do not think anything ridiculous would pass and even minor changes could be damaging to those in favor. He never seems to talk about the people behind these inanimate objects (guns) that cause all this terror.

    February 13, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. JustAO

    Why don't the NRA and GOP stop 'cheerleading' for gun violence?

    February 13, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
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