Congress is passing more laws than ever, and some of them are downright dangerous. For instance, a new study finds that the number of guns that were subsequently linked to crime sold by a single store–a Milwaukee-area gun shop called Badger Guns & Ammo–increased dramatically after Congress adopted measures likely to reduce the risks gun dealers face if they divert guns to criminals.
The Tiahrt amendments are a series of amendments to appropriations bills and named for the sponsor, former US Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS). They became law in 2003 and prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing data from crime gun traces. Gun traces reveal when, where, and from whom a gun recovered from a crime was originally purchased.
In 2004, the Tiahrt amendments further restricted crime gun-trace data by limiting access to government officials and prohibiting the use of these data in firearm dealer license revocations and civil law suits. In addition, the law prohibits ATF from requiring gun dealers to do a physical inventory of their firearms for compliance inspections and requires the FBI to destroy data from background checks of gun purchasers within 24 hours.
In 1999, ATF data showed that Badger Guns & Ammo led the nation’s gun dealers with the most gun sales later linked to crime gun traces. After the Tiahrt amendments went into effect, guns diverted to criminals soon after being sold by Badger increased by over 200%.
Researcher Jon Vernick says, "Our findings are consistent with other research that has shown that greater oversight and regulation of gun sellers is linked with fewer guns diverted to criminals shortly after retail sales." Congress recently passed another appropriations bill with an amendment that makes PERMANENT most of the protections for gun sellers that in prior Tiahrt amendments been limited to the year the bill was passed.
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