Strange: Enforce existing laws

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 28, 2016

When it comes to solving problems stemming from gun violence, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says the answer is simple:

“Enforce the laws we already have on the books,” he said during a visit with the Pike County Republican Women’s group on Wednesday.

Strange told the group he had recently testified before a Congressional committee regarding President Obama’s proposed increased restrictions on access to guns. He shared three main points he sought to convey to the committee.

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“No. 1, we need to enforce the laws that are already on the books,” he said.

Strange said the nation has many laws already in place to deal with gun violence, “but the problem I see … is that we have people who have decided they are not going to enforce the laws.”

Secondly, he said, the federal government needs to prosecute criminals for gun-related crimes.

Strange said federal laws are in place to address individuals who commit crimes involving guns. “We used to devote two assistant attorneys general to go after these crimes,” he said. “But the moneys have slacked off and we’ve had to eliminate those positions.”

Strange said he encouraged Congress to re-establish funding for these efforts.

“And third, we need to stop releasing violent criminals from jail before their sentences are complete,” he said.

“These violent criminals need to be put away and kept away to keep our citizens safe.”

Strange’s comments were part of a talk focused at supporting the law enforcement agencies, whose personnel were honored on Wednesday by the group. Strange also talked about the shift in the judicial system regarding the treatment of juveniles who commit violent crimes. “The president has now said there should be no solitary confinement for juveniles,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I used to tell my two boys to go to their room and spend time on their own … If you can do that in your own home then the warden in a prison ought to be able to do that too.”

Moreover, he said, recent Supreme Court rulings prohibiting a life sentence without parole for anyone under the age of 18 raise concerns. Strange pointed to the recent shooting death of a veteran in Birmingham who had encountered a group of teenagers burglarizing vehicles. “He was shot in the back … and the one who pulled the trigger apparently was 16 years old,” Strange said. “I don’t know how you can get any more cold-hearted than that.”

That is why, Strange said, citizens need to be thoughtful in the election process. “We’ve got to have elected officials who will stand for the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said. “What underpins (our nation) is our great Constitution. We have got to have leadership that follows that, understands that and will stand up for the rule of law.”