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. Time to give up

    There is no reasoning with blind partisans. Basically everyone that has commented on this

    February 13, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  2. Clwyd

    Dizzy Graham,< just a work for you! Disgrace!

    February 13, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  3. carlos

    Liberal hate machine is in full force tonight. Its kind of ironic how full of hate and violence the speach of the gun banners has become. I'm glad the gun owners are not as off balance as the gun banners...

    February 13, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  4. Clwyd

    Dizzy Graham, If you own a gun then go hunting with Dick Cheney and walk in front!

    February 13, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  5. Len

    He needs votes....up for reelection on 2014.....lost all respect for this senator

    February 13, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  6. Clwyd

    Lindsey Graham, I want to see a Picture first before I beleive you, and a copy of your birth certificate!

    February 13, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  7. charles bowen

    Lindsey i'd say that your argument is ignorant of the basic fact that noone but Police and the Military needs that much firepower and the fact that they let an idiot Republican even own a gun shows that the laws need to be changed....You Obstructionist Teapublicans make me sick you have destroyed the republican party and now your setting your misguided sight on destroying the fabric that holds the United States Together.... I too own guns but i don't wear my right to own them as a banner of my manhood ....In my opinion the bigger the man the smaller the gun....and Lindsey you will never make the bigger man list....Do the Republican Party a Big favor and Resign .....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    February 13, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. MesaMax

    Gun ownership is just another aspect of American Exceptionalism. And yet, how easily are people willing to give up the rights that our Founding Fathers fought and died for. How easily. And all in the false hope that government can guarantee greater security. As our Founding Fathers said, “He who is willing to trade Liberty for Security deserves neither”.

    February 13, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  9. MesaMax

    This most insidiously opaque administration must be held accountable. The People demand answers. The People deserve answers. This administration cannot hide from the People.

    February 13, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. Jim

    Did you all know that ~400% more people were killed by hammers and baseball bats in 2011 than by rifles of all types? If semi auto rifles are so dangerous as to require "controls" and banning, than we should certainly do the same for hammers and bats. It's "common sense" legislation, after all. Those victims of blunt force trauma *deserve* a vote on that! Only carpenters and athletes need these items anyway, they're simply too dangerous for anyone else to have.

    February 13, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. Gambi

    Senator Graham you may not abuse your AK-15 but can you guarantee every person that owns one will not? I agree we need to prosecute those who break the gun laws so are you willing to stop blocking the appointment of a new head of the ATF? Are you willing to fully fund the ATF? I doubt it very much I live in South Carolina and the NRA rules so cut the crap.

    February 13, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. Kommon Sense

    Nobody is taking guns. I ASSURE you all of that.

    February 13, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  13. Greg

    Praise be to Sen. Graham for voicing his opinion regarding the 2nd Ammendment and standing up to these Panty Waist Liberal SOB!!!
    Everyone of you Communist should be shipped to China to enjoy their firearm free society!

    February 13, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  14. Joseph White

    An empty can makes a lot of noise.

    February 13, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  15. Funkymonkey1

    Grahm is just afraid they are going to outlaw high capacity jowls. Seriously, I bet he can stuff 20 to 30 rounds in each of those things then spit them out of that empty head of his in rapid fire.

    February 13, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. scieng1

    The issue is crime control and neither the president nor his administration have shown any concern to reduce crime. More gun laws to prevent husbands from giving their wives a shotgun is not preventing crime. More laws to make the innocent defenseless only promotes more crime (an example is Chicago). It is time for some responsibility from Obama, but I will not hold my breath waiting for it.

    February 13, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  17. DaveW

    Graham is the poster boy for southern necrotic fundamentalism. He proves the rule that in order to be a modern Republican you have to be a self-righteous, prissy racist.

    February 13, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  18. Jim

    Criminals and gang bangers will not abide by any law. Disarm or impede the publics right to have a weapon and it'll be a feeding frenzy for criminals. Then what will all the anti-gun nut-jobs do? make crime against the law? Oh wait, it already is. How about some real teeth in the prosicution of criminals using a gun instead of them being back out on the street faster than the paper work can be completed

    February 13, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  19. Name

    What gun laws do we have that are worth a crap?

    February 13, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. Joe Smith

    Right! Lindsay Graham is telling the president how to do his job. Is there something about the election that he doesn't understand? The majority of Americans elected him, knowing full well what his policies are.

    February 13, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. 21k

    most people own assault rifles because they are cool toys and don't have an appreciation for the danger they pose when mixing ammo and alcohol. probably only 10% have visions of a "red dawn" insurrection against the "gub'mint", there just can't be that many morons in the country. the rest , like senator graham, are white racists who fear some future race war.

    February 13, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  22. Opiniongirl

    Clearly, this senator is one of the many reasons, why the country doesn't move forward as fast as it should!

    February 13, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  23. Craig B.

    Interesting, so by his logic all gun-related violence is committed only by mentally unstable people.


    February 13, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  24. Fox

    ... Lindsey s a man? i never knew.

    February 13, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  25. Dan

    I wish I had a AR-15. obama will sell them to Mexican drug dealers through fast and furious, but ban their sale to law abiding Americans. Give me my freedoms and keep outta my face.

    February 13, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
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