Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

The "Tiahrt Amendment" on Firearms Traces: Protecting Gun Owners' Privacy and Law Enforcement Safety

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

For over a decade, cities and anti-gun organizations sought access to confidential law enforcement data on firearms traces, both for use in lawsuits against the firearms industry and for use in questionable studies used to support their goals. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) compiles these records when it traces firearms in response to requests from law enforcement agencies.

Starting in 2003, the U.S. Congress 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, former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.). That provision was made permanent in 2006 as a part of the fiscal 2007 Appropriations bill to fund the Justice Department.  In 2009, the provision was amended to further strengthen the protections for undercover law enforcement operations and confidential informants.

Despite complaints from anti-gun activists, there are many good reasons for continuing to keep this information confidential:

  • Releasing the information serves no useful purpose. The Congressional Research Service has repeatedly said "firearm trace data may be biased" and "cannot be used to test for statistical significance between firearm traces in general and the wider population of firearms available to criminals or the wider American public.”[1] These limitations exist because the "tracing system is an operational system designed to help law enforcement agencies identify the ownership path of individual firearms. It was not designed to collect statistics."[2]
  • Traced guns aren’t always “crime guns”; firearms may be traced for reasons unrelated to any armed crime. The BATFE trace request form lists “crime codes” for traffic offenses and election law violations, among many others.
  • Trace information remains available for law enforcement use. The permanent version of the Tiahrt amendment ensures that trace data is available to federal, state, and local agencies "in connection with and for use in a bona fide criminal investigation or prosecution" or for use in administrative actions by BATFE—the principal agency responsible for overseeing the conduct of federally licensed firearms dealers. The language and history of the Gun Control Act are clear: Congress always intended to keep this information confidential, and to allow its use only for legitimate law enforcement purposes. The firearms trace database includes information such as the agency requesting a gun trace, the location from which the gun was recovered, and the identity of the dealer and original retail buyer.
  • Both BATFE and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) oppose release of trace data. In fact, BATFE has fought for years in the federal courts to keep trace records confidential, because they contain information (such as names of gun buyers) that could jeopardize ongoing investigations—not to mention law enforcement officers’ lives. For example, a suspected gun trafficker could search publicly released information for names of "straw purchasers" he had used to buy handguns, or for traces requested on guns he had sold. That information could lead him to names of officers, informants and witnesses against his crimes. (View commentary by FOP President Chuck Canterbury from April 24, 2007)

NRA is committed to ensuring confidentiality of sensitive law enforcement information, and strongly opposes any effort to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment or any effort by the executive branch, or by state or local governments, to avoid its restrictions.

Resources


 [1] Congressional Research Service, Gun Control: Statutory Disclosure Limitations on ATF Firearms Trace Data and Multiple Handgun Sales Reports 3 (June 30, 2006).

[2] Congressional Research Service, Assault Weapons: Military-Style Semiautomatic Firearms Facts and Issues (May 13, 1992).

TRENDING NOW
Now With More Banning! Dianne Feinstein Introduces “Updated” Federal “Assault Weapons” Ban (S. 66)

News  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Now With More Banning! Dianne Feinstein Introduces “Updated” Federal “Assault Weapons” Ban (S. 66)

On Wednesday, longtime gun control extremist Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the latest version of her perennial bid to rid America of its most popular types of rifles, as well as the standard capacity magazines that ...

Keep Telling Your Members of Congress to Oppose “Universal” Background Check Bills

News  

Friday, January 18, 2019

Keep Telling Your Members of Congress to Oppose “Universal” Background Check Bills

On January 8, two bills were introduced in Congress to impose so-called "universal" background checks. The bills, H.R. 8 and S. 42, are being misleadingly described as simply requiring background checks on all sales of firearms, but this is ...

Law for Thee But Not for Me: Pittsburgh Officials Defy DA’s Legal Advice in Gun Control Push

News  

Friday, January 18, 2019

Law for Thee But Not for Me: Pittsburgh Officials Defy DA’s Legal Advice in Gun Control Push

Pittsburgh City Council member Corey O’Connor wants local residents to relinquish important aspects of their Second Amendment rights. If they refuse, he would have it cost them their liberty and treasure. But O’Connor himself apparently ...

Who Are the Real Extremists?

News  

Friday, January 18, 2019

Who Are the Real Extremists?

NRA is often vilified by the gun-ban community and its supporters in the mainstream, legacy media as an “extremist” organization because of its steadfast defense of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. A simple ...

Wisconsin: Governor Evers Starts Session with Gun Control Push

Monday, January 14, 2019

Wisconsin: Governor Evers Starts Session with Gun Control Push

With the 2019 Wisconsin Legislative Session convened, Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul are already working with legislators to pass sweeping gun control.

Washington: Committee Hearings Scheduled on Anti-Gun Bills

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Washington: Committee Hearings Scheduled on Anti-Gun Bills

Anti-gun bills will be heard on January 21st at 10:00AM by the Washington state Senate Committee on Law & Justice and by the House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary on January 22nd at 10:00AM.

Illinois: Gov. Pritzker Signs Firearm Registration & Dealer Licensing Bill

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Illinois: Gov. Pritzker Signs Firearm Registration & Dealer Licensing Bill

Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 337 into law.  Passed by the previous legislature in 2018, SB 337 will establish a firearm registry and shut down your local gun stores with government red tape.  Senate ...

Canada’s Gun Control Advocates Boast Handgun Ban is “Within Reach”

News  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Canada’s Gun Control Advocates Boast Handgun Ban is “Within Reach”

On August 28, 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed Bill Blair, his minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, to examine the feasibility of “a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in ...

Monster Mistake, Take Two?

News  

Hunting  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Monster Mistake, Take Two?

Capitulating to radical, anti-gun extremism has become acceptable to some within the business community in recent years, especially for companies that seem to care little about our rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.  We’ve seen banks ...

New Mexico: Governor Lujan Grisham Highlights Gun Control In Opening Day Speech

Thursday, January 17, 2019

New Mexico: Governor Lujan Grisham Highlights Gun Control In Opening Day Speech

In her opening day speech to state lawmakers, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called on them to pass various gun control proposals that she supported on the campaign trail and which have been filed in the ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

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.