FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2006
FIREARM CORRECTIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS ACT, H.R. 5005
Statement of Joshua Horwitz, Executive Director, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
H.R. 5005, the so-called "Firearm Corrections and Improvements Act," would create serious obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of gun-related crimes. We appreciate the need to protect sensitive information about ongoing criminal investigations from being released to the public, but we are aware of no case where the disclosure of trace information has harmed law enforcement interests in any way. In fact, many state and local law enforcement agencies have been severely hampered by the same kinds of restrictions that H.R. 5005 would make permanent, and we oppose the bill.
Joe Vince, former chief of the crime gun analysis branch at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has sent a letter to H.R. 5005's sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith, that describes in detail how restrictions on the use of trace data imposed by Congress through the appropriations process have interfered with the ability of state and local law police to protect themselves and the public from violent crime.
As Mr. Vince explained to Congressman Smith, legitimate concerns about wholesale disclosure of investigative notes included in BATFE's firearm trace database do not justify prohibiting the release of all or even most of the information in the database to other law enforcement agencies and the public.
We share Mr. Vince's view that BATFE should be authorized to make more information from the trace database available to local police as a means of improving officer safety. If a police officer making a traffic stop could be warned that the motorist being pulled over has been identified as the purchaser of one or more guns traced to violent crimes in another jurisdiction, the officer would be aware that the stop posed heightened risks.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and other leaders of large cities have echoed Mr. Vince's analysis of how restrictions on the use of trace data have denied state and local police and prosecutors information that would help identify and investigate corrupt or careless firearm dealers, straw purchasers, and traffickers who systematically divert guns to criminals.
These mayors have seen first-hand how limiting a local law enforcement agency's access to data to traces directly connected to a specific investigation in the agency's geographic jurisdiction prevents local police and prosecutors from seeing patterns of activity that would provide leads in trafficking investigations.
Trace data has shown that 1.2 percent of federal firearms licensees are responsible for selling 57 percent of the guns traced in criminal investigations. This information might be embarrassing to the tiny minority of gun dealers who sell the majority of crime guns, but the police - and public - have a compelling interest in being able to identify them.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence was founded in 1975 and is composed of 45 civic, professional and religious organizations and 100,000 individual members working to reduce gun violence. Our mission is to stop gun violence by fostering effective community and national action. For more information about the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, visit www.csgv.org.
1) Isn't this the bill that kills the barrel/reciever ban?
2) I don't know about all of 'em, but back home the dealers noted as the highest seller of 'crime guns' did 2 things to merit this (1) they were located in/next to poor neighborhoods, and (b) they sold low-cost guns (Lorcin, Jennings, Hi-Point, etc)....
If you deal with that perticular clientele, you're inadvertantly going to sell some guns that get passed around to criminals... You can't prevent your non-felon customers from giving guns to their criminal buddies... You can tell them 'no', but that only goes so far....
But if you don't deal with that clientele, then you have to move somewhere where there is someone else to sell to (someone who will buy a $900 HK or a $700 Springfield) or go out of business.... The dealers in 'better' areas where I live all do this - they sell high-end guns, and C&R, nothing else...
So they stick around, sell to whoever buys, and we all see where that goes...