Huh. Only five of the 29 Democratic Congresspeople who signed the March 26 letter to the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget list their official position. [Click here to read.] The legislators’ reticence to self-identify or publicize this move is understandable. Their missive is a brazen if backdoor attempt to have the Tiahrt Amendment removed from President Obama’s 2014 budget. That’s the Amendment that specifically prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Tracing Center from releasing eTrace data to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation. So what’s the biggie? Well Wikipedia tells us that the Tiahrt Amendment also . . .
Precludes gun trace data from being used in academic research of gun use in crime. Additionally, the law blocks any data legally released from being inadmissible in civil lawsuits against gun sellers or manufacturers.
And that last bit, my friends, is what really galls the civilian disarmament industry. From the letter:
The ATF estimates that the majority of crime guns come from less than two percent of licensed dealers, but local and state law enforcement is currently restricted gun trace data to revoke the licenses of those who break the law.
Wait. What? ATF “crime gun” eTrace data doesn’t prove anything—other than the fact that a particular gun or number of guns came from a particular gun shop. It is not prima facie evidence that the gun store owner did anything wrong when he or she sold the gun.
If the Office of Management and Budget kills the Tiahrt Amendment, the ATF would be free to build a case against legal gun dealers—they’re selling to criminals! they’re a two percenter!—and yank their license. The dealer would then have to fight to have it restored. How many would be able to take on Uncle Sam?
I repeat: removing the eTrace data destruction provision would give the ATF the power to pull the plug on any gun dealer tied to any gun used in any crime—without proving criminal culpability. And open them up to civil lawsuits.
Can you imagine the number of law school-trained ambulance chasers who’d try to take a gun dealer to the cleaners for selling a gun used in a crime? The resulting awards would be . . . chilling. Gun dealers would go down in droves. How great is that?
Even worse, requiring the destruction of background check records within 24 hours makes it nearly impossible for the ATF to catch rogue gun dealers who falsify their records or straw purchasers who buy guns on behalf of criminals.
“Nearly” impossible? We should change federal law and expose gun dealers to ATF bullying and/or elimination because it’s just too damn hard for the Bureau to catch “rogue gun dealers” and straw purchasers without establishing a database that would put innocent gun owners in the crosshairs (e.g., an owner whose gun was stolen and then used in a crime)?
By prohibiting the ATF from requiring dealers to complete inventory checks for lost and stolen weapons, the ATF is forced to rely solely on its own limited resources, resulting in less than 20 percent of the nation’s gun dealers being inspected annually.
See how easy it is to wander over the line from enforcement agency to jack-booted government thug (pleading poverty no less)? Why should the ATF submit ANY gun dealer to “annual inspection”? Shouldn’t ATF “inspections” be limited to cases where they can prove to a judge that there is probable cause to suspect a crime has been committed?
Which brings us back to that eTrace data destruction. The ATF would love to “inspect” all gun dealers who sell a certain number of “crime guns” like, say, one. See? They’re suspects in a crime! Stripped of the Tiahrt restrictions, the ATF could continue to be a law unto themselves—only more so.
The Democrats’ Tiahrt Must Die letter concludes by waving the bloody shirt and, laughably, uses the ATF’s own gun running operation to justify unchaining the agency that also brought us the Waco massacre (76 dead, 25 children) and Ruby Ridge (mother and daughter assassinated).
As our nation continues to grapple withe recent tragedies in places like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek, and other heartbreaks [ED: Fort Hood], we must ensure that our law enforcement personnel are given all the tools necessary to do their jobs. These limitations have already had devastating effects on investigations overs the past few years. During Congressional Investigations into “Operation fast and Furious”, Chairman Darrell Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley has to take the extreme step of requesting gun trace data of the Mexican Ambassador since they weren’t allowed to do so with their own government . . . While recent changes in the Amendments have allowed limited access to trace data for law enforcement, Congress and other policy makers still do not have even this access.
The ATF released [highly and intentionally misleading] stats on all guns eTraced by the Mexican government—a roster that somehow failed to include the guns smuggled at the ATF’s behest. Wikipedia also reports that “Most trace requests that are submitted to ATF from Mexico are considered ‘unsuccessful’ because of missing or improperly entered gun data.”
And what “other policy makers” do the Dems deem worthy of inside access to ATF trace data? Do these Democratic signatories seriously suggest the ATF should release eTrace data to Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns or The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence who, we’ve learned, wrote entire passages of New York’s hugely unconstitutional package of “gun safety” laws now known as the SAFE Act?
The Tiahrt Amendment put a muzzle on the ATF. Absent eliminating the Agency—saving taxpayers more than $1.4b a year, ending the law enforcement overlap on guns and safeguarding our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms—that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.