In the past, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) publicly released the results of the analyses of data gained by tracing the history of guns used in crimes. Some of the results were startling: For example, 57% of crime guns came from 1.2 percent of licensed dealers. In other words, the guns the bad guys use don’t come from the black market they come from a handful of gun vendors.In 2003, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (Republican-Kan.) added a rider to the Justice Department’s budget that prohibited ATF from sharing such gun-trace information with law enforcement officials, researchers and the public. Every year since, the so-called Tiahrt Amendment has gotten more restrictive, narrowing the ability of local police to gain access to or apply gun-trace information.
The worst iteration yet came last month, when the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a version from Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Republican-Ala.) that threatens to put police officers in prison if they use federal gun-trace data for any purpose other than to advance specific, “bona fide criminal investigations” — for proactively tracking and interdicting illicit guns, for example, or identifying problem gun sellers.In reaction tothis, Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (Democrate) and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (Independent) called for repeal at a joint news conference, a cause is backed by 200 other mayors and law enforcement organizations and police chiefs.
Eliminating the Tiahrt rider is not about weakening the perceived Second Amendment rights but rather it is about transparence with public health data that keeps the public safe by identifying unscrupulous gun vendors. Read more
Washinton Post Editorial, Wednesday, July 11, 2007; Page A14.