Graham to Obama: Stop 'cheerleading' for gun laws
February 13th, 2013
04:43 PM ET
10 months 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. JustAO

    If you think you need your guns for protection against psychos...hey wake up...so do the psychos! And the rest of us will never know who is who since both of you don't wear a police uniform.

    February 13, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. ToldUSo

    The Repubs say Obama isn't a leader, but when he takes a stance they don't agree with, they whine about that. You had your 8 years of Bush doing what the party told him to do. Graham, stand back now and get universal background checks into law.

    February 13, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. what1ever

    Yeah! What does the president of the United States know about making laws for the United States? Wait, what?

    February 13, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Unlike Obama Lindsey Graham is a real American .

    February 13, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. billy

    Lindsey Graham Is a real American

    February 13, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  6. DENNA

    Lindsey, you are an insufferable idiot. I cannot believe that the deaths of 20 innocent children at one time could leave your cold, cold heart so unmoved.

    February 13, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that getting convictions is really hard. If there was something to lower the standard to get a conviction, that might mean more prosecutions and convictions. How many attorneys want to hsve that many loses on their record? Who wants to waste the tax payer money this way.

    February 13, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. ARTraveler

    Senator Graham, get off your podium and fund the ATF and vioid that law that prevents them from shutting down the wholesale gun runmners in YOUR state that supply guns both north to American cities and south to the drug cartels who are killing Americans in addition to citizens of their own countries. Let ATF check gun stores more than once a year if they feel that certain stores are aiding and abbeting. Otherwise, you are siding with the drug cartels and gun runners againt American citizens and should be in jail (for a start).

    February 13, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. Partisian Ron

    Graham you stop cheerleading for the NRA, And while you are at it stop cheerleading for stupid!

    February 13, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Jeff O'Dette

    Graham HAS to go. VOTE HIM OUT!!!!NOW!!!

    February 13, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. Thinker

    When Graham comes out of the closet, I'l take him seriously. Other wise he needs to STFU.

    February 13, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  12. django

    Fun fact. Cities/states with CC (conceal carry) actually have a lower crime rate then most other cities/states. A study done from 1977-2005 stated that information. No system is perfect but the rules and regulations to buy a gun should be enforced. Making more laws would just be plan stupid. Putting a band aid on a band aid doesn't fix the issue.

    February 13, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Jeffey

    Thank you Senator Graham. Obama is a coward that uses a trajedy to try to push his socialist gun control agenda. Liberals can suck my machine gun. I'll keep my AK-47 & other firearms to protect myself & family. You libs can sit by & watch your loved ones get raped & attacked while you because you weren't well armed.

    February 13, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  14. Future

    Lindsey Graham is 100% correct. Most of the commenters are ignorant of the issues and gun control. There is even an internal memo from the Dept of Justice from Jan 2013 that specifically says banning assault weapons would not effect violence in America.. It also said that universal background checks would be of little use. All these laws that the liberals are crying their eyes out for only hurt the law abiding 99% of gun owners. You liberals cry about everything you do not agree with, let's pass a law against it. The cowards America was not built by or defended by.

    February 13, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  15. me

    you people need too grow up . your childish name calling is beyond old. your skkewed views are NOT the views of sane people in this country

    February 13, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Cam Spurgeon

    UGH! Piful! enough said!

    February 13, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  17. Kurt

    McCain is a senile old man. I have no idea what Graham's excuse is for being so crazy. Every other day I turn on the news, and there he is......making a fool of himself again.

    February 13, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  18. david esmay

    The Queen of the GOP owns an AR-15, it matches his purse.

    February 13, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  19. Fierce Badger

    Graham is a whiner, an obstructionist, a pathetic panderer to the NRA and every other conservative interest group. Go figure, they keep reelecting him. Says a lot about how different the values are in the US

    February 13, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  20. MiamiMikey

    Here's the thing -he says enforce the laws but guts the ATF from any power to do so! And admits he owns an AR-15. So he is a good guy until he decides to snap and take out his family and others!!! Yeah – let's get more of those weapons out there for the good guys and just hope they do not snap!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. Richard Right

    76000 plus fraudulent apps and the govt does nothing, that's called encouraging more false apps. The fed needs to do its current job.

    February 13, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  22. jane

    Well then, fund the ATF and stop blocking the nomination of someone to run the bloody thing, Miss Thing....

    February 13, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  23. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    And who are you, Mr. Graham, to tell the president what to say or not say? How patronizing, how arrogant and ultimately, how ignorant of you! In that spirit, I have some advice for you: get out of the closet and you and the country will be happier.

    February 13, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  24. Goodluck

    What a bunch of blind sheeple on these comments. Go read some real articles and see how many agree with your great one oweblamo. Thank God the Republicans can still stop the chavez movement of this administration.

    February 13, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  25. igor1963

    Graham is right, president need to stop beating dead horse of gun control and start working on real issues. Our crime is NOT rising – it in fact reducing over past 20 years. We have plenty of more important issues for president to address.

    February 13, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
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