The attorney general also defended the administration's gun control efforts.
Attorney General Eric Holder delivered bad news at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General earlier today. The automatic, across-the-board goverment budget cuts known as the sequester set to take effect on Friday will take a bite of about $1.6 billion out of the Justice Department's budget – and its ability to help fight crime.
"We'll do the best that we can to minimize the harm that actually occurs as a result of the sequestration, but the reality is there is going to be harm. There is going to be pain," Holder said. "The American people are going to be less safe. That is just the fundamental reality that people have got to get their heads around."
The attorney general also defended President Obama's proposed gun control measures, and adamantly declared that they would not in any way impede on those who lawfully own guns.
An important component of the administration's proposals is a more stringent background check system to prevent people with criminal or mental health issues from obtaining firearms. Holder called on the attorneys general to encourage their local and state law enforcement agencies to use the National Crime Information Center, through which federally licensed gun dealers are required to screen potential buyers. NCIC also keeps the records of people who have failed its background check.
"We will not rest until we've done everything in our power to prevent future tragedies like the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School," Holder said.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)