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U.S. House Appropriations Committee Preserves Tiahrt Amendment!

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Thursday, July 12, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted to protect language commonly known as the “Tiahrt Amendment,” rejecting two separate amendments designed to strike and gut the language, in the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008. This language maintains firearm trace information within the law enforcement community and out of the hands of politicians, trial lawyers and special interest groups.

Rep. James Moran’s (D-VA) amendment that would have completely eliminated the Tiahrt language was defeated on a voice vote. Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s (D-RI) so-called “compromise” amendment was overwhelmingly defeated by a strong bipartisan vote of 26-40. The Kennedy Amendment would have allowed trace information to be disclosed to anyone who asks for it under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).

“Today’s vote is a victory for rank-and-file law enforcement,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “These courageous men and women are engaged in a protracted battle with politicians who want access to this information to further a political agenda. NRA is proud to join forces with law enforcement groups, and we will continue the fight to make sure this provision remains American public policy as it has for the past five years.”

The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) all support the effort to maintain trace information exclusively within the law enforcement universe. The Tiahrt Amendment has been public policy since 2003.

Law enforcement agencies have cited concern that giving politicians access to this information will compromise the safety of all their men and women, particularly those involved in undercover work, and severely impact the integrity of on-going criminal investigations. Even New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recognized this problem and wrote a letter of support to then-Attorney General Ashcroft in 2002. Commissioner Kelly pointed out, “The release of trace information under FOIA jeopardizes not only the investigations, but also the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses and others.”

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I) is leading a host of politicians and political appointees who want access to BATFE trace information to continue and expand widespread lawsuits against firearm retailers and manufacturers that were outlawed under the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” of 2005. NRA has always maintained that the primary objective must be to arrest, prosecute and pursue maximum sentences for those who break the law and that civil lawsuits should not take precedence over criminal proceedings.

“NRA stands steadfast with our policemen and women. It is inappropriate for any politician to try and get access to this firearm trace information to promote the agenda of the gun-control lobby. The lives of America’s rank and file law enforcement must not be used as political pawns,” concluded Cox.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.