Trying to provide cover for friendly anti-gun candidates, Americans for Gun Safety (AGS) lobbyists recently released a "study" that attempted to blame both honest firearms dealers and the Bush Administration for illegal gun purchases by criminals.
Mark Carallo, director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of justice, challenged the "study" in USA Today, saying that AGS "relied on out-of-date and incomplete information to draw conclusions that the evidence just doesn`t support about gun traces and this administration`s prosecutions of gun crimes."
AGS relied on a ploy used during the Clinton years-the deceptive use of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) firearms tracing data-to make its case. This is hardly surprising for a group whose key staffers formerly worked for Bill Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer. Knowing that many in the media would play along, AGS came up with a listing of stores that had more than 200 BATFE traces between 1996 and 2000. These stores were smeared as "high crime dealers."
BATFE doesn`t "trace guns to crimes." The simple truth is that guns may be traced for a variety of reasons. A trace is nothing more than a check of federal firearms licensee records to try to determine how a firearm moved in the chain of commerce.
Newly enacted federal legislation sponsored by Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt requires BATFE to include language in any release of tracing data that makes it clear that "trace data cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crime."