Another View: Baseless conspiracy theory should not drive gun policies

Another View: Baseless conspiracy theory should not drive gun policies

When law enforcement agents seek information on guns found at crime scenes, they call the firearms tracing center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Agents at the tracing center, in West Virginia, then try to establish a chain of custody based on the gun’s serial number, manufacturer, distributor and retailer. The agents pursue this task in the most inefficient manner imaginable, manually searching records – about 800 million of them – because federal law purportedly prevents the center from organizing them into a searchable digital database. This absurd prohibition needs to be lifted. The law expressly prohibits “any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions.” Of course, if a gun sale is legal, and it’s made by a federally licensed dealer, then all that information exists. The National Rifle Association doesn’t want officers of the law to be able to access it efficiently. The reasoning is familiar. The NRA maintains that the nation’s popularly elected government is forever scheming to confiscate all guns. The claim is and always was preposterous. In introducing legislation to improve a government agency hobbled by design, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, a gun owner from Vermont, said, “We cannot let a baseless conspiracy theory drive our public safety policies.” The Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act would require the tracing center and federally licensed firearm retailers to digitize records currently stored on paper and to compile a searchable database. In a bow to the paranoia fanned by the […]

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