Nation`s Law Enforcement Opposes Release of Data on Gun Owners
For more than five years, cities suing the gun industry and anti-gun organizations have sought access to confidential law enforcement data on firearm traces - ecords that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) compiles when it traces firearms in response to requests from law enforcement agencies. These efforts have been redoubled in recent years under the prodding of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), who has funded a national television ad campaign that is so misleading that some television stations are refusing to run it because of its blatantly false statements!
The anti-gunners` intentions are clear—to conduct a massive fishing expedition aimed at driving gun dealers and gun manufacturers out of business through bogus lawsuits. This is a backdoor attempt to undermine "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2005. This landmark law blocks reckless, harassment lawsuits intended to hold gun manufacturers and dealers responsible for the misuse of firearms by criminals.
Every year since 2003, the U.S. Congress has passed increasingly strong language to keep this information confidential. The legislation—a series of "riders" to the appropriations bill that funds BATFE—is widely known as the "Tiahrt Amendment," after its sponsor, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).
There are good reasons for keeping this information confidential, and for strengthening the Tiahrt Amendment and making it permanent, so that legislative battles needn`t be fought every year, including:
- Releasing the information serves no useful purpose and may jeopardize the lives of law enforcement and ongoing investigations;
- Traced guns aren`t always "crime guns;" firearms may be traced for reasons unrelated to any armed crime;
- Trace information remains available for law enforcement use.
(For more information on the "Tiahrt Amendment," please visit: www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=208.)
Two leading voices in the nation`s law enforcement community have once again lent their public support to NRA`s efforts to ensure this sensitive data remains off limits to those who seek to use it to advance their personal anti-gun crusades, while ensuring the information remains available to law enforcement agencies in conjunction with bona fide criminal investigations, as has always been the case.
First came yet another affirmation of NRA`s position by Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who wrote in an April 24 column (go here to see the complete column): "…the officers in the field who are actually working illegal gun cases know that releasing sensitive information about pending cases can jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or even place the lives of undercover officers in danger. That is why the Fraternal Order of Police has always supported language protecting firearms trace data, now known as the `Tiahrt Amendment.`"
Adding to the chorus of law enforcement support for the Tiahrt Amendment, on April 30 Michael Sullivan, acting director of the BATFE, had this to say (www.scrippsnews.com/node/22041), "ATF considers this information law-enforcement-sensitive because it is often the first investigative lead in a case. We treat it no differently than fingerprint matches and other crime-scene information, since disclosure outside of law enforcement can tip off criminals to the investigation, compromise cases and endanger the lives of undercover officers, witnesses and confidential sources."
NRA remains committed to ensuring confidentiality of sensitive law enforcement information, on two fronts:
- NRA supports continuing and strengthening the annual appropriations riders that prevent abuse of this information outside legitimate criminal investigations.
- In the 109th Congress, NRA supported H.R. 5005 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), which would make the disclosure ban permanent.
Please continue to contact your U.S. Representative in support of the Tiahrt Amendment, and remind him or her that NRA and law enforcement remain united in support of this critical legislation. And please be sure to urge your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners to do the same!You may contact your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121. Additional contact information can be found using the "Write Your Representatives" feature at www.NRAILA.org.