Former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department forced the Federal Bureau of Investigation to purge more than half a million fugitives from the federal gun background check system, according to FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich’s testimony during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.
On Capitol Hill – while the committee discussed law enforcement’s failed response to the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) asked Bowdich about the motives behind the problematic purge of outlaws from the gun check database that was orchestrated by the Obama administration.
“It’s my understanding that under federal law fugitives cannot legally purchase or possess guns,” Feinstein began while questioning Bowdich, according to Townhall. “We heard from local law enforcement that the Justice Department has issued a memo that forced the FBI NICS background check data base to drop more than 500,000 names of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants because it was uncertain whether those fugitives fled across state lines. Mr. Bowdich, can you describe why this determination was made by the Justice Department?”
Obama did it …
Bowdich made it clear that Obama officials in the DOJ administered the questionable maneuver that put the safety of millions of Americans at risk.
“That was a decision that was made under the previous administration,” Bowdin answered Feinstein. “It was the Department of Justice’s Legal Counsel that reviewed the law and believed that it needed to be interpreted so that if someone was a fugitive in a state, there had to be indications they had cross state lines. Otherwise, they were not known to be a fugitive under the law in the way it was interpreted.”
The announcement of Obama’s further leniency on criminals – above and beyond the recent news that a large proportion of terrorist inmates he released from Guantanamo Bay went back to the jihadist battlefield – was quickly echoed around the world over social media by the news media, including DailyWire.com’s Ryan Saavedra, who reported on the latest controversy.
“Acting FBI deputy director David Bowdich says Obama’s DOJ forced the deletion of 500,000 fugitives from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used to conduct background checks on gun buyers,” Ryan Saavedra tweeted on Thursday.
Compounding the controversy over the Obama move, there has been disagreement among federal agencies as to precisely what a fugitive is.
“Fugitives from justice are barred from buying a firearm under federal law,” the Daily Caller pointed out. “That definition [of what exactly a fugitive from justice is] has been under debate by the FBI and the ATF [the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives].”
Here are the agencies’ conflicting views:
“The FBI considered any person with an outstanding arrest warrant to be a fugitive,” The Washington Post noted in November. “[However, ATF] defined a fugitive as someone who has an outstanding arrest warrant and has crossed state lines.”
True to its form of being more lax on criminals, the Obama administration stuck with the more narrow determination – essentially erasing the criminal records of half a million fugitives and making them eligible to buy more guns.
“That disagreement was settled at the end of Obama’s second term, when the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel sided with the ATF’s interpretation,” the Daily Caller’s Kerry Picket recounted. ”Under President Donald Trump, the DOJ defined a fugitive as a person who went to another state to dodge criminal prosecution or evade giving testimony in criminal court, and implemented the Office of Legal Counsel’s decision. The decision meant that around half a million fugitives were removed from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”
Tougher on criminals?
Indicating that the Trump administration will be tougher on criminals than its predecessor, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently assured the American public that the Justice Department will “aggressively” pursue any person who is found on its background check, according to the Washington Post.
It was also divulged that Obama forwarded the trend of letting criminals evade legal prosecution – and attain freedom – at the expense of Americans’ safety.
“Adding insult to injury, under the Obama Justice Department prosecutions of crimes committed with firearms decreased by 25 percent,” Townhall’s Katie Pavlich stressed. “While President Obama decries gun violence and presses for more laws to restrict ownership, his Justice Department has prosecuted 25 percent fewer cases referred by the main law enforcement agency charged with reducing firearms violence across the country – a computer analysis of U.S. prosecution data shows.”
Compared with his predecessor, Obama prosecuted a quarter less alleged criminals for firearm offences.
“Federal prosecutors brought a total of 5,082 gun violation cases in 2013 recommended by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, compared with 6,791 during the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2008, according to data obtained from the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys,” Pavlich added.
Finding fugitives …
A few facts about the importance of fugitives appearing on the federal gun background check database were also revealed by Townhall:
- Arrest warrants don’t disappear when a fugitive crosses a state line and neither does their violent criminal history. If a criminal flees from Texas through New Mexico and into Arizona, he or she is still a fugitive in each state. U.S. Marshals – who work for the Department of Justice – are tasked with crossing states line to capture fugitives on the run. Deputy U.S. Marshals can be found: a) conducting domestic and international fugitive investigations; b) working closely on fugitive task forces and special cases with local, state, Federal and international law enforcement agencies; c) planning and implementing extraditions and deportations of fugitives; d) conducting financial and technical surveillance on specific fugitive investigations; and e) serving court papers, which is also known as service of process.
- The federal background check system, NICS, applies in all 50 states.
- Hundreds of thousands of criminals ineligible to buy firearms became eligible overnight – thanks to this decision.