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Posted: 10/30/2006 1:27:35 PM EST
Some history on it for the ignorant:

Tiahrt Amendment Fires Up Anti-Gunners

A late-breaking amendment to a spending bill that would provide relief for federally licensed firearms dealers and protect individual gunowners has Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) under fire from anti-gun groups, according to The Wichita Eagle.

As the clock ran down on the House of Representatives before it adjourned for its August recess, Tiahrt introduced an amendment to the 2004 funding bill for the Commerce, Justice and State Departments that prohibits funds for certain activities of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Specifically, the Tiahrt amendment keeps the ATF from requiring firearms dealers to conduct physical inventories of guns, from denying licenses to low-volume gun dealers, and from demanding that some dealers document all used guns sold in a specific period.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) helped write the amendment, which Tiahrt says addresses long-running infringements on the constitutional right to bear arms. Tiahrt also said he had discussed its provisions several times with other members of the House Appropriations Committee, which crafts spending bills.

But some lawmakers, including the appropriations member in charge of the bill Tiahrt wanted to amend, objected to its introduction, saying they hadn’t had time to review it. After debate, the amendment passed 31-30, with the parties split on whether to allow a potentially controversial measure into the bill at a late hour.

The amendment then went into the larger appropriations bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House shortly before members recessed for the summer. It and other annual appropriations bills for federal agencies still require action by Congress in order for the government to operate in the next fiscal year.

Gun control groups immediately flew into high-outrage mode, The Eagle reported. Tiahrt’s amendment, they say, will make it more difficult for the ATF to monitor small-time gun dealers who funnel firearms to criminals. They claim the measure will also force the government to destroy information it has gathered that traces gun information and helps catch criminals.

Jonathan Cowan, head of Washington, DC-based Americans for Guns Safety (AGS), was quoted by The Eagle as saying that if Tiahrt’s amendment had been in effect last fall, the search that tracked down the guns of the “Beltway snipers,” who allegedly killed at least 10 people in the DC area, would have failed.

“This is a back-door attempt to eliminate the tracing of crime guns,” he said. The bill, he said, “helps only dishonest firearms dealers who deserve vigorous prosecution . . . no reputable firearm dealer would ever support this amendment.”

However, Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), assessed Cowan’s remarks as “typical hyperbole.”

“Neither the Tiahrt amendment, nor any other legislation currently contemplated, would prevent the tracing of actual crime guns,” Waldron said. “The tracing mechanism exists and works completely separate from attempts to build databases of firearms owners.”

Tiahrt said his amendment protects law-abiding gunowners and sellers by letting small-volume dealers continue to sell and by cutting back on gun-purchase lists that, left unchecked, can lead to what is practically a national gun registry.

“I don’t see a reason for the federal government to keep your name on a list” just for owning a gun, he said.

Tiahrt cited the NRA backing as a sign that legitimate gun dealers are behind him. The NRA is a solid supporter of Tiahrt. According to election records, it gave him $9,900 in the last election cycle, tops among Kansas lawmakers.

The congressman also said that the close vote came about through miscommunication between committee members who should have realized the amendment was coming, but didn’t.

Opponents vow to fight the Tiahrt amendment in the Senate, which also needs to pass the amendment for it to become law.
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