Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login

Log In

A valid email is required.
Password is required.
Site Notices
3/20/2017 5:03:23 PM
Posted: 12/5/2001 8:36:14 PM EDT
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/06/national/06GUNS.html Justice Dept. Bars Use of Gun Checks in Terror Inquiry December 6, 2001 Justice Dept. Bars Use of Gun Checks in Terror Inquiry By FOX BUTTERFIELD The Justice Department has refused to let the F.B.I. check its records to determine whether any of the 1,200 people detained after the Sept. 11 attacks had bought guns, F.B.I. and Justice Department officials say. The department made the decision in October after the F.B.I. asked to examine the records it maintains on background checks to see if any detainees had purchased guns in the United States. Mindy Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the request was rejected after several senior officials decided that the law creating the background check system did not permit the use of the records to investigate individuals. Ms. Tucker did not elaborate on the decision, but it is in keeping with Attorney General John Ashcroft's strong support of gun rights and his longstanding opposition to the government's use of background check records. In 1998, as a senator from Missouri, Mr. Ashcroft voted for an amendment to the Brady gun-control law to destroy such records immediately after checking the background of a prospective gun buyer. That amendment was defeated. "We intend to use every legal tool available to protect American lives," John Collingwood, an assistant director of the F.B.I., said, but he added that "applicable law does not permit" the background check records to be used "for this purpose." The Justice Department's action has frustrated some F.B.I. and other law enforcement officials who say it puts the department at odds with its own priorities. Even as the department is instituting tough new measures to detain individuals suspected of links to terrorism, they say, it is being unusually solicitous of foreigners' gun rights. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the nation's largest group of law enforcement executives, has already written one letter to the F.B.I. opposing Mr. Ashcroft's policy on gun records, and is drafting a second letter questioning the decision not to check the gun records. "This is absurd and unconscionable," said Larry Todd, the police chief of Los Gatos, Calif., and a member of the group's firearms committee. "The decision has no rational basis in public safety. "It sounds to me like it was made for narrow political reasons based on a right-to-bear-arms mentality," he said. "If someone is under investigation for a terrorist act, all the records we have in this country should be checked, including whether they bought firearms." Yesterday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, wrote to Mr. Ashcroft, saying, "If the Department of Justice is not using the N.I.C.S. database as part of the investigation, I am very concerned that the F.B.I. is being unnecessarily limited in the tools that it can use to bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice." N.I.C.S. is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The conflict over how to deal with the records of background checks of gun buyers predates Sept. 11. Under the system, a gun dealer faxes in a form filled out by a prospective buyer to either the F.B.I. or a state law enforcement agency; the authorities then run a computerized search to make sure that the buyer does not fall into one of several categories of people prohibited from
Link Posted: 12/5/2001 8:37:26 PM EDT
buying a gun. The records of those background checks, known as audit logs, have long been a point of contention for some gun-rights advocates, who contend that they create a de facto national gun registry. The F.B.I. preserves the records for 90 days; it has said it needs at least that long for investigative purposes and to make sure the system works. The Justice Department, however, is expected to announce soon that it is switching to destruction of the records within 24 hours. On Sept. 16, said Mr. Collingwood, the assistant F.B.I. director, the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asked the F.B.I. to check a list of 186 names of detainees against the background check records. The F.B.I. got two "hits," other F.B.I. officials said, meaning that two of the detainees had been approved to buy guns. But the next day, after a further review by F.B.I. and Justice Department lawyers, the bureau's unit that maintains the records "was advised that reviews for this purpose were not permissible under the current statutory and regulatory scheme," Mr. Collingwood said. "That was confirmed after a request that the matter be reviewed again," Mr. Collingwood added, apparently a reference to what other F.B.I. officials said was an appeal to the Justice Department by a senior F.B.I. official. Among those in the Justice Department who opposed letting the F.B.I. use the records were Viet Dinh, the assistant attorney general for legal policy and a political appointee close to Mr. Ashcroft, as well as a second top department official, Ms. Tucker said. The dispute about the records centers on two issues: which people can be checked and how the records may be used by investigators. Until now, F.B.I. officials said, it was permissible to check the records if someone who had been approved to buy a gun should not have been allowed to. The prohibited categories include foreigners of several different statuses, like an illegal immigrant or someone in the country for less than 90 days. Investigators believed that many detainees fell into those groups and sought clearance to check whether they had bought guns. But in what several officials called a reversal of existing procedure, Mr. Dinh ruled that these checks were improper, reasoning that they would violate the privacy of these foreigners. F.B.I. officials said foreigners normally did not have privacy rights unless they have achieved permanent resident status. "It is like there is a gun-rights exception to the war on terrorism," said Mathew Nosanchuk, litigation director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun control group in Washington. Mr. Nosanchuk was a Justice Department lawyer in the Clinton administration who helped to write many of the gun-records regulations. The records may be reviewed to assure the system functions properly, but a second issue is whether they can be used by investigators.
Link Posted: 12/5/2001 8:38:59 PM EDT
Until now, F.B.I. officials said, it was permissible to check the records if someone who had been approved to buy a gun should not have been allowed to. The prohibited categories include foreigners of several different statuses, like an illegal immigrant or someone in the country for less than 90 days. Investigators believed that many detainees fell into those groups and sought clearance to check whether they had bought guns. But in what several officials called a reversal of existing procedure, Mr. Dinh ruled that these checks were improper, reasoning that they would violate the privacy of these foreigners. F.B.I. officials said foreigners normally did not have privacy rights unless they have achieved permanent resident status. "It is like there is a gun-rights exception to the war on terrorism," said Mathew Nosanchuk, litigation director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun control group in Washington. Mr. Nosanchuk was a Justice Department lawyer in the Clinton administration who helped to write many of the gun-records regulations. The records may be reviewed to assure the system functions properly, but a second issue is whether they can be used by investigators. Current rules state the records can be used "for the purposes of investigating, prosecuting, and/or enforcing violations of criminal or civil law that may come to light during N.I.C.S. operations." Mr. Nosanchuk said, "A fair interpretation is that if there is a terrorist act, and that if you have a basis to think a person was in a prohibited category, it would be O.K. for law enforcement to check the records to see if a person purchased a gun." Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, declined to comment on whether the Justice Department's ruling may have hindered the Sept. 11 investigation to protect gun rights. But he said the fact that the F.B.I.'s initial check found that two detainees had been wrongly cleared to buy guns was "testament to the lack of attention focused on building the N.I.C.S. by the Clinton administration." While it cannot be determined how many detainees bought guns, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did check some names against its database of guns that have been used in the commission of crimes. It found that 34 guns seized in crimes had been bought at some point by people on the detainee list, an A.T.F. agent said. Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information
Link Posted: 12/5/2001 8:52:15 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/5/2001 9:43:26 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Paul: Bush screws us again... [rolleyes]
View Quote
How??????
Link Posted: 12/6/2001 12:20:11 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RikWriter:
Originally Posted By Paul: Bush screws us again... [rolleyes]
View Quote
How??????
View Quote
Paul, read it again. I'm not sure what you're saying - that Bush wasn't willing to violate the NICS rules in order to see if the suspected and the actual terrorists bought guns? There is no evidence they USED any guns that I've heard of so far. And of course the "Violence Policy Center" agenda would be to hope they could find at least one suspected terrorist who bought a gun so that they could use that to advocate for more gun laws. As it is, they only have a bunch of guys with box cutters, and what they want is a "smoking gun".
Link Posted: 12/6/2001 12:43:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/6/2001 12:37:27 AM EDT by prk]
It seems like the FBI is using backward reasoning in their argument.
"... F.B.I. officials said..., it was permissible to check the records if someone who had been approved to buy a gun should not have been allowed to. ..."
View Quote
They did not know that any of these people had been approved to buy a gun, they were seeking to determine /whether[/] any of them had. They evidently didn't have any basis pointing to violations, they wanted to go fishing in NICS:
..."Investigators believed that many detainees fell into those groups and sought clearance to check whether they had bought guns...."
View Quote
The "audit logs" are meant to allow process - checking, to see that the system is working properly, or at least that was the rationale used for keeping the records 90 days. In other words, to enable audits of improper denials or delays and incorrect approvals, possibly including those ones where the delay limit was exceeded and the sale should have been allowed by default. However, the FBI is wanting to use it as a registry, to see whether the detainees might have gotten firearms, whether they used them or not. This business of "they weren't qualified to be approved, so we need to find out if they are in the system" is just a BS smokescreen the FBI is using. Those 'groundless fears' that the audit logs would amount to a de facto registry seem to have been prophetic.
Link Posted: 12/6/2001 1:28:44 AM EDT
Well that's cool.. The sooner they destroy NICS records, the better. Isn't it great to see the Bush administration pissing off former clinton anti-gun knuckle draggers? Paul - yeah I don't understand where your comment came from either.
Link Posted: 12/6/2001 3:59:23 AM EDT
but I thought Bush was involved in a secret conspiracy to take away our gun rights? [shock] [whacko]
Link Posted: 12/6/2001 4:22:31 AM EDT
Yea! Chalk one up for the good guys! If Bush cannot find a legitimate reason for going fishing in the NICS logbooks now, when could he ever propose such a thing? Eric The(EveryVote[u]Was[/u]Counted,ExceptThoseFromActiveMilitary!)Hun[­>]:)]
Top Top