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. Iil2ndthat

    Say what you want about Senator Graham,he's stating the truth. The laws are already in place, they haven't been funded. What we're doing now is trying create more laws before establishing funding. What we should be doing is demanding that existing laws are funded.

    February 13, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  2. Dan

    A man who has business with a gun is gonna bring it anyhow. Taking everyone else's just makes it easier for them.
    Marshall Dan Troop-The Lawman.

    February 13, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  3. MiamiC

    Graham should legislate instead of presuming to bad mouth Obama out of business. He should also, stop cheerleading for the NRA and its paleolithic notions of humanity. We tried the GOP for 8 years and they screwed up the economy. Then they actually tried to erode the economy further in order to sabotage Obama so he would loose the elections. Finally they are so dumb that in 2012 they field the most apalling line up of candidates in recent history, and loose. We chose the other side, Graham, until the GOP learns to think. ideas. Go back to the barn and eat your hay.

    February 13, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  4. Spike2014

    All these comments have finally convinced me to join the NRA. I will pledge $5000 to support their efforts this year. More to follow.

    February 13, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  5. RealTeaMan

    Speak for yourself lindsay. You certainly don't speak for me. Was the killer at Sandy Hook found to have been mentally I'll before the fact, and bought guns? How about Virginia Tech? Colorado? It is convenient to say "stop crazy People from Getting Guns!" But the problem is, you are defending them about getting them right up to the second they shoot somebody.

    Jindal is exactly right. The GOP has to stop being the stupid party. Ted Nugent as an unofficial spokesman is a perfect example of that. He is one of the crazy people that shouldn't have a gun!!!!

    February 13, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. Mike

    What a sad bunch of comments. Just like Obama...a lot of name calling and deamonizing but nothing tangible to discuss. Graham in correct that the current laws should be enforced. I am sure new laws will make many feel like "something was done," but if those aren't enforced, then where's the logic in passing MORE laws that aren't enforced?

    February 13, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  7. seriously?

    So this is where all the "more money will fix it" and, "I want the Government to take care of me" goobers hang out. What a shocker. It's awesome to see droves of people unable or unwilling to think for themselves and instead regurgitate the same rhetoric as the other side. Between you knobs spending us to death and the Republicans de facto "let's see what God wants us to do" approach, we are all screwed.

    February 13, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  8. Tom Williams

    Lindsey Graham is such an obvious "Peter Puffer", but then again are not all politicians from So. Carolina, small minded right wing nut nut job, why would anyone want to know what his opinion is about anything is.

    Tom W

    February 13, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  9. RealTeaMan

    I am just happy that a Lesbian is in congress and can speak her mind!!

    Oh... She, eeeer I mean "HE" isn't? Ooops.... Sorry!!

    February 13, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. Ralph

    Most of the posters here do not now an assualt weapon from a standard bolt action hunting rifle.....oh sorry, that scoped bolt action rifle is a sniper weapon sytem to you now is it not !!!!
    Bunch of trolling misanthropes that no nothing of firearms except maybe that the go bang.

    February 13, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  11. Georgie

    Wait a minute! This fool "owns an AR-15!," ...and he "saw the movie Django!", ...What the hell does that mean!? That's right, please let these GOP/Tea Party buffoons keep talking. That way they never get in the White House again!, ...Laughs!

    February 13, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. Georgie

    I wonder what scene in the movie "Django" iimpressed this simple-minded man the most? Was it Blacks killing Whites?, ...or was it Whites threatening to castrate Blacks? We all know which!, ...Don't we!?, ...Smiles!

    February 13, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  13. mario

    sentor gram then do someting and that do,s not mean sucking up to the NRA :(

    February 13, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  14. Robert

    You Liberals posting here are absolute fools. In your minds Obama can do no wrong. You morons would give away every last letter of our Bill of Rights if Obama claimed it was the "common sense" thing to do. Our liberties have suffered enough under Obama. The end to the next 4 years cannot come soon enough.

    February 14, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  15. Homer10

    Hay Lindsey, I tell you what. I'll take my Winchester 270, and you take your AR15, and we go target shooting at a target at 100 yards. I bet I can make an 8" pattern, and you will never even hit the target. AR15s are cr@p guns. You can't hit the broad side of a barn with them.

    February 14, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  16. PJ

    Graham is in love with Obama...he's obsessed with him.

    February 14, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  17. Screwed Again

    Pandering and pathetic pretty much sums up Lindsay Graham. How in the world did he ever become a United States senator? Duh, he's from South Carolina.

    February 14, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  18. GO_GOP

    Graham is my hero. I own so many guns that frankly I have lost count. I will stand up to any nut that tries to take away my guns or restrict my rights. Come on get me..

    February 14, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  19. Anonymous

    i dont think he mean any harm its only for protection

    February 14, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  20. caplatinphx

    Why do the people keep electing these idiots to office Graham, Boehner, Mitchell, to name a few they are just so negative. They just do not listen to the people who elected them, they rather listen to those fat cats like the NRA and other pacs then listen to the people who elected and for that matter the people of this Country. Impeach is possible the nay sayers,

    February 14, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  21. MarkB

    I have have been handling guns most of my life, since I hunted with my Grandpa when I was 6. I have owned and used several guns since I got my first .22 rifle when was 13.

    As for background checks, who in their right mind is against that? Back in 1999, Wayne LaPierre himself argued FOR background checks at gun shows with no loopholes. Now he's bitterly opposed to it. What's up with that? I used to be an NRA member but they've become too radical for me.

    I believe that there should be NO gun transactions without a background check – NONE, period. The senator says he wants to stop mentally ill people from obtaining guns, but he's against universal background checks! Hello? The background check is the very means to prevent those transactions.

    For what it's worth, I have no problem registering every gun I own – when a firearm is used in a crime, we ought to be able to trace it's ownership history to see how the criminal obtained it. It seems to me that's just common sense.

    When I buy a car I register it. When I sell it, the transfer of ownership is recorded. To drive it, I must show that I know how to operate the vehicle safely. Does anyone REALLY think guns should be treated less seriously than cars? Do you want someone walking around with a pistol that does not know how to safely handle it? We and our children are the ones put at risk for that.

    Let's let go of the heated rhetoric and try to apply some common sense.

    February 14, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  22. DTOME

    He has a point if all they do is just talk nothing will come out of it. Just hope they address the real issues!! I agree with him no more speeches about expanding gun laws. Start enforcing the ones we have. Also getting legislation to make it more difficult for people with a history of mental instability to purchase a weapon. The gun ban didn't work back in 1994-2004 and it won't work now!!

    February 14, 2013 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  23. AndyM

    Wow. And when liberals accuse conservatives of hatred and namecalling I will remember the comments here.

    Btw, none of you are going to get the federal gun control that you want. And if they pass a 10 round magazine limit then manufacturers will only market 10 round .458 SOCOM mags. Just so happens that they hold 30 rounds of .223

    And there is nothing that can be done about it. I know that makes you gun haters angry. And that brings a smile to my face.

    February 14, 2013 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  24. Jim g

    Boy, saying you have an AR15 is probably worth a couple million from the NRA. Of course it is doing nothing to try and find solutions to the deaths of many innocent Americans. Solid background checks, punish those that use weapons during a crime, without plea bargaining the weapons charge out of the sentencing. Use a gun in a crime automatic sentence period added to the crime itself. We do not need assault weapons and clips over 10 shots. If you can't get your deer with 1 or 2 shots, you shouldn't be hunting anyway. But instead of talking about the things that could help, you use scare tactics and misrepresent what most are saying. No one of authority has said take your weapons, PERIOD..But keep up the false rhetoric and collect those NRA dollars. You are a disgrace.

    February 14, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  25. Brenda

    Sure he does. It matches his purse. He is the most flaming, closeted gay man ever. He and his boyfriend John McCain take it out on date night. He always sounds like Tennessee Williams.

    February 14, 2013 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
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