ATF Gun Trace Data Could be Made Public if Biden is Elected President

evidence crime gun

(Didier Lebrun/Pool Photo via AP)

By Larry Keane

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s gun control agenda includes plans to get rid of the Tiahrt Amendment. What does this mean?

With the election rapidly approaching, the gun control agenda of former Vice President Joe Biden is clear. As we have covered here before, he has big plans to upend the Second Amendment and punish the heavily-regulated firearm and ammunition industry for the illegal actions of criminals.

There is more to his antigun agenda than banning modern sporting rifles and eliminating the legal online sales of firearms and ammunition.

According to his website, Biden will work to “repeal riders” that get in the way of his agenda. What does this mean?

The former U.S. senator wants to get rid of the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts public access to sensitive, law enforcement-only firearm tracing data. This restriction is supported by Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and law enforcement groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) because it secures sensitive tracing information which would jeopardize on-going criminal investigations and put the lives of law enforcement officers, cooperating retailers and witnesses at risk.

Trace Data Explained

When a firearm is recovered at a crime scene or criminal arrest, a police department may forward information to the ATF to track the chain of custody of a firearm through the licensed distribution system to the original retail purchaser. The ATF then sends back the information to the reporting agency so they can use it in a criminal case, if warranted.

Risks iff Tiahrt is Repealed are High

Public release of gun trace data outside law enforcement would jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations, putting the lives of law enforcement, witnesses and others at risk. This is why Congress, the ATF and law enforcement, including the nation’s largest police organization, the FOP, agree on the importance of securing this sensitive data.

Crime scene gun

(AP Photo/The Boston Globe, Aram Boghosian, Pool)

Access to gun trace data should only be available to law enforcement taking part in a bona-fide investigation, and law enforcement already has the access it needs for this purpose. No law enforcement agency has ever been denied access to trace data as part of a criminal investigation.

Misuse of Trace Data

Why should trace data not be made public? Gun control groups try to use these data to argue a trace is a signal that a law-abiding firearm retailer did something wrong if a firearm they legally sold after a background check ended up being traced for any reason. That is simply not the case.

As the ATF has repeatedly stated, “The appearance of [a licensed dealer] or a first unlicensed purchaser of record in association with a crime gun or in association with multiple crime guns in no way suggests that either the federal firearms licensed dealer (FFL) or the first purchaser has committed criminal acts. Rather, such information may provide a starting point for further and more detailed investigation.”

The danger of releasing trace data is not a hypothetical one. In fact, the pandemic of frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers beginning in the 1990s stirred the need for such a law to protect privacy.

These cases misused trace data as a substitute for actual evidence of wrongdoing by members of the industry. These same lawsuits gave rise to the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that the Biden-Harris campaign wants to repeal.

Consider what happened when the notoriously antigun former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the New York Police Department (NYPD) inappropriately and unlawfully obtain trace data not for a criminal investigation, but for use in preparing a civil lawsuit. He turned the data over to private investigators who conducted so-called sting operations of out-of-state federally licensed firearm retailers.

Michael Bloomberg court packing justices SCOTUS

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

He did so without the knowledge of the ATF or even his own police commissioner. As a result, Bloomberg interfered with as many as 18 ongoing criminal investigations, jeopardizing the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses and others. In fact, the ATF was forced to pull agents out of the field for their own protection.

The Department of Justice investigated the mayor and his “private eyes” and admonished Mayor Bloomberg for his actions in a letter which was addressed to his criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt and warned the mayor that he would face “potential legal liabilities” if he did not stop his clandestine investigations immediately. Feinblatt now runs the Bloomberg-funded gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety and pseudo-journalism site, The Trace.

When it authorized further restrictions on the access and use of gun trace data, Congress correctly understood that this information was a crime-fighting tool intended solely for use by law enforcement and that, in the wrong hands, it could be recklessly misused. No one, particularly not members of the firearm industry, wants to see criminals illegally obtain and misuse firearms.

If Biden wins on Election Day and gets his way, releasing these data outside of law enforcement will place the lives of law enforcement and witnesses at risk and punish law-abiding firearm retailers for legal sales of their products.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

comments

  1. avatar John in FL says:

    Cancel culture via doxing.

    1. avatar 9x39 says:

      Yep, something overlooked in the article. If those guns were stolen, those trace’s lead right back to who, & where they were stolen from. Putting the initial victim in greater jeopardy by handing thieves a bloody roadmap.

      Probably don’t need to point out how head up the ass stupid this is, but there we are.

      1. avatar 9x39 says:

        ^ That’s Biden for ya.

        1. avatar John in FL says:

          9×39 is not .355, but instead .365, therefore everything you say is a lie!

        2. avatar John in FL says:

          Winkie, forgot the sarcasm winkie.
          Everything you say is a lie Russian meddler! 😉

        3. avatar 9x39 says:

          Lol! Didn’t need a sarc tag, some things are obvious to all but the oblivious. Dis be one o’ dem.

      2. avatar guest says:

        Not necessarily. Only if the person it was stolen from was the original purchaser. If they bought it private party, or used, the trail wouldn’t lead to them with just the trace info.

        1. avatar 9x39 says:

          I wouldn’t be so sure about that, it’s a hotly disputed question that 4473’s have been properly disposed of according to law, for an age. That being said, I’ve never laid eye’s on one of the trace, though the article indicates:

          – When a firearm is recovered at a crime scene or criminal arrest, a police department may forward information to the ATF to track the chain of custody of a firearm through the licensed distribution system to the original retail purchaser.

          Which clearly says otherwise.

  2. avatar YoohooEnufUrEarsOpen? says:

    Enuf, you still voting for Biden?

    1. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

      You beat me to it.

      1. avatar enuf says:

        CNN convinced me that Trump is worse than

        *any gun control or confiscation plan by the Democratics
        *more than a half year of riots, where over 30 people were killed and billions in property damage
        *China again using and stealing from America until they surpass the U.S. and bring their surveillance state to the rest of the world
        *Higher Taxes
        *Higher Unemployment
        *Illegals flooding the country for free health care and well free everything from the tax payers.
        *Packing the Supreme Court
        *Adding States until the Dems have a super-majority
        *Abolishing the Electoral College
        *Abolishing the Filibusterer
        *Letting Illegals Vote
        *The Marxist and Communists trying to destroy America from within.

        Basically let the Dems have control and rig the system so they can be forever in power and make China, Tech, and Billionaires our new Totalitarians.

        1. avatar Miner49er says:

          That’s the plan brother enuf, preach it!

          Marxist for Harris 2020

        2. avatar Southern Cross says:

          Fake enuf.

      2. avatar Jeff Staton says:

        The 4473’s stay with the dealer until he goes out of business. Then they’re boxed up and sent to a warehouse, I believe in KY. for storage, after being marked with the Dealer’s # for tracing, if that ever becomes necessary. So, unless they trace the origin from the manufacturer to the original distributor, then dealer, it stops there, until they contact the original retail dealer and look at the 4473, or in this case, go to the KY. warehouse and dust off the boxes. All of that “If” it’s a legal retail sale??

  3. avatar Debbie W. says:

    No surprise coming from Jim Crow Gun Control joe. Lock Him Up!

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      TRUTH!!!

  4. avatar Cupcake says:

    I don’t like undercover investigations and confidential informants, mainly because these are principally used for wars on vices that would be won overnight with reasonable legalization measures. It’s rarely good when the government’s up to something and no one can prove what they’re doing.

    However, the fact that the known enemies are trying so hard to get at this information shows that changing anything could make our lives a lot worse.

    1. avatar Doug in PF says:

      The case against transparency was not made in this article, for sure. But you’re right, they’re trying so hard, and they are OPFOR, makes a fellow want to deny by default, doesn’t it?

      Edit for grammar

  5. avatar NO VOTES FOR SNIFF & BLO! says:

    When ur a poor politician going into office with gov wages for 47 years how do u come out a millionaire or billionaire???

    https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/email-reveals-how-hunter-biden-introduced-ukrainian-biz-man-to-dad/

    Dirty that is how! Biden should not get 1 vote! A vote for a commie should get u kicked out of the country!

    Can gitmo hold all the demoncrats????????

    We can do what kamalabloblo did & keep the criminals in jail past their sentence & make them work for free….

    1. avatar Dude says:

      “how do u come out a millionaire”

      Ask Maxine Waters who lives in a $6 million house, and is too good to live in the district she represents.

      1. avatar guest says:

        I’ve been seeing those ads too.

    2. avatar Ing says:

      They ALL come out richer than they went in. It’s one of the many perks of playing ball with the swamp creatures of K Street.

      If you want to know why so many Republican politicians are lining up to vote for Biden and de-elect Trump, it’s because he *doesn’t* play that game, never got hooked into the lobbyist ecosystem, and the Washington DC graft pipeline is no longer flowing at full volume.

  6. avatar 1SFGSFC says:

    What guns? Lost them all in a canoe accident.

    1. avatar KenW says:

      You must have not had many if a canoe can hold all of it. I’d need a little larger boat and quite a lot larger if my ammo also goes down. Some on here might need to go with a Bertram or larger type boat. And a few might see if Paul Allen’s little boat is up for sale yet.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        +1

        I can’t even put all my ammo into a single truckload, let along a canoe load. It would weigh down the bed and bottom out the suspension. Seriously. Back-of-the-envelope calculations put the weight at several hundred pounds with all those ammo cans filled to the brim with bulk (not boxed). Then all the guns themselves, and the gear, and the safe – egad, the safe! – there just isn’t any way I could get more than a fraction of it into a canoe…

        So I suppose my story will be that I had a “truck + U-Haul” accident. In the middle of that lake. Because that can happen, I suppose, right?

        1. avatar KenW says:

          Or the one we had today up the street.Guy was reloading and had over 80 pounds of propellant go off severely burning the 2 of them and destroying the house and a large RV.
          https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/local/venice/2020/10/15/injuries-popping-ammunition-reported-south-venice-home-explosion/3668429001/

          They closed the whole area down while hundreds of rounds cooked off.
          No boat needed for this one.

        2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Yikes. I thought any quantities greater than 20 lbs were a big no-no. I guess some live by their own rules.

        3. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          He *might* be in for a legal hassle, for that large a quantity stored in one spot in Florida.

          On the upside, I associate the smells of a gun range in use with pleasant thoughts, and I bet that neighborhood smelled pretty nice, for awhile, all that double-base fragrance…

        4. avatar KenW says:

          I did noticed some sort of odor but it did not smell like powder. News keeps saying gunpowder but his neighbor said they had a pretty large reloading operation. So it probably was not gunpowder. we took a walk by the house a little while ago and it looks like the feds are involved too along with a pile of local LEO. Not sure what they are looking for but the neighbor next door to them is a friend of mine and said he apparently had a pile of propane tanks stored behind the shop too. Hope they were not to badly injured. Friend said they flew both of them out. I know they were into military vehicles. He came down to our house when they had him evacuate.
          I could have done without the idiot helicopter that hovered over out house for what seemed like forever.

        5. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          Here are the Florida laws on explosives :

          https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=69A-2

          And this is what the ATF has to say :

          https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/storage-requirements

          I bet he he is in for a legal problem or three…

        6. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Smokeless powder is not an explosive. Black powder is a low explosive.

          Dynamite is the genuine article….high explosive.

  7. avatar American Patriot says:

    All kinds of things could happen if Harris gets in, you could talk about “what if’s” for the next 4 yrs.

    But

    To all you supposedly 2A supporters bitching about Trump, if your not putting your check mark in his Box…….Your not a 2A supporter!

  8. avatar Gene Forsythe says:

    1. The Dems are going to take the whole shebang……..just accept it and start active planning for how you will address the restrictions and confiscations of Harris and O’Rourke. Quit complaining and start planning.

    2. This is why no-one (none of you!) should EVER be making a direct purchase of anything with a credit card. All the records are kept and all purchases are traceable………and have been since I was an FFL at a military base in the 1980s.

    3. This is why no-one (none of you!) should ever be making a direct purchase of a firearms from an FFL holder. ALL should be private sales purchases, preferably at least twice removed from the FFL holder and without any sales document or receipt. Then it doesn’t matter what the trace shows if the gun is someday recovered at a crime scene.

    4. Pay Attention…….After 20 January 2021 the social nazis ARE going to be in power, and you (yes, you!) are going be nothing more than an unconvicted felon………so if you want to keep your guns, start thinking like one.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      In California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., there are no such things as legal private sales. The only firearms that one can legally purchase in California without registering the firearm are black powder firearms. New Jersey you can’t do that either. In California, 80% builds are illegal unless one buys a serial number from the state before starting the build. So if you want to stay within the confines of the law, one cannot buy a modern firearm without registration; buying with a credit card is therefore an irrelevancy. Heck, even if you own a legally unregistered firearm, you can only sell it through an FFL in a person to person transfer, after which it is registered. And you cannot buy any ammo unless you have at least one firearm that appears in the State’s registry AT YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS. If you moved and haven’t bought another at the new address, no ammo for you.

      But there is hope. Judge Barret will pass out of the Judiciary Committee in a week, and then it is on to the Senate, where McConnell will quickly schedule a vote.

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        True, but a lot of damage can be done before a case winds slowly through the system.

        Prepare for at least 3-4 years of hell before any SCOTUS corrections can be made.

        Is there any way the high court can sound off outside of the usual channels on an egregious violation of civil rights?

      2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Mark,

        You’re factually correct on all mentions of CA’s legal entanglements.

        The reality of what happens beyond the sight of the Eye of Sauron, however, is quite different.

        So I’m told. 😉

    2. avatar Red in CO says:

      “unconvicted felon” is a REALLY good phrase; I’ll have to use it from time to time

    3. avatar Enuf says:

      See what happens when you vote for Trump. You all should have voted for Hillary and we wouldn’t be in this mess. Now conservatives are going to have to go underground or be identified and hunted down. They’re going to take your guns, bibles and religion. You have a choice, vote for Biden, sell back your guns to Beto, renounce your religion, throw your clenched fist in the air and pledge your support for anti-fascist progressive Marxism. At least we’ll be a one party country, Democrat all the way!

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        ^^ not the real enuf ^^

    4. avatar anyway says:

      Just accept it. Just lay back and think of England, and how diverse and progressive and well taken care of everyone is. Don’t worry about the brain control, or constant tracking of everything you do by the omnipotent Party. Accept it when they take your house, car, clothes, and masculinity, and put you in a camp. Don’t resist, because it’s inevitable. Just lay back and take it.

  9. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Hasn’t anyone realised the Democrats are pro-crime, provided it is committed against class enemies?

    I have legalized robbery and called it belief,
    I have run with the money and hid like a thief,
    Rewritten history with my armies and my crooks,
    Invented memories and did burn all the books.

    1. avatar KenW says:

      I have not heard that one in awhile

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        The very first CD I bought when CDs were new. A spectacular album.

        MTV was brand-new back then, and played music videos like this :

        1. avatar KenW says:

          I dug through my collection, have it on both vinyl and CD. I recognized that line as soon as I saw it. Took my bike out to Colorado and saw them at Red Rocks.
          Stayed for the dead concert but it was not half as good.

      2. avatar KenW says:

        Geoff unfortunately I now associate that song with funerals

  10. avatar Gliderguy says:

    Maybe since medical practitioners are routinely asking about firearms in the home, we can bend this one back on its ear and say that releasing that information would be a HIPPA violation, which carries a maximum penalty of one year incarceration and up to $50,000 fine PER RECORD. (Capped at 1.5 million)

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