It Ain't Fair

Corporate America is shutting average Americans' voices out, while they help themselves to taxpayer dollars. The economic playing field is tilted against the middle class — and we have the power to change that.

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Tracing guns used in crimes is difficult at best, thanks to the NRA

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms  (ATF) receives 1,200 to 1,500 requests a day from Police and other U.S. law enforcement agencies to trace a firearm used in a crime.

The Dickey and the Tiahrt Amendments to our nation’s gun laws make it more difficult than it should be to trace ownership of these guns.

Here are some provisions of the two amendments:

  • The two amendments ban computerizing the records for fast retrieval, suggesting that the NRA does not want any sort of searchable database. This untimely process hampers the Police in their attempts to solve the crime quickly.  In addition to the 67 million paper records, the tracing center receives 2 million additional documents each month, which complicates the data management task.
  • The ATF cannot force dealers to inventory their firearms to account for stolen weapons.
  • The FBI must destroy all background check documents within 24 hours after approving the sale.       
  • If the FBI cannot finish the background check in three days, the dealer can sell the firearm without it.
  • Only police departments can see the records; they are not available to the public. Therefore, citizens cannot tell who the bad dealers are.
  • The ATF cannot hold gun dealers accountable for selling illegal firearms.  (From a study done in the ’90s before the access to records was discontinued, two Professors from Northeastern University showed that 1.5% of the gun dealers were responsible for 57% of the guns used in crimes.)
  • This legislation also bans the CDC from investigating anything having to do with the causes of gun violence. 

Suppose the ATF finds a dealer responsible for many illegal gun sales. They often do not prosecute because they must prove that the dealer “willfully” intended to sell weapons for an unlawful purpose. It’s hard to prove.

Seven hundred seventy (770) ATF inspectors must monitor 78,000 gun dealers and 9,500 businesses dealing in explosives. Yet the ATF budget has gone up only 6% in real terms from 2010 to 2020.

Please also watch the 10-minute video from the Atlantic magazine; you’ll see the tracing center’s mess.