WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), joined bicameral legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-13) to greatly enhance the ability of law enforcement to investigate and solve gun crimes, crack down on gun trafficking and negligent gun dealers, and allow researchers—for the first time—to study gun violence and its impact on communities across the country. The Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act would require the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to collect, preserve and disclose gun records and gun tracing data.
The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).
Since 2003, Republicans have restricted the ability of the ATF and FBI to collect, preserve and make public a range of gun records and data by attaching so called “Tiahrt Amendments” to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) yearly funding bill. The Menendez-Lee legislation would repeal the following Tiahrt provisions:
- Ending the prohibition on the ATF from releasing firearm trace data for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants and members of the public;
- Ending the requirement for the FBI to destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours of approval;
- Ending the provision that makes it extremely difficult for ATF to retrieve firearms from prohibited persons who are mistakenly sold guns or from gun owners who become ineligible to possess guns;
- Ending the prohibition on ATF requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement; (Gun dealer inventories facilitate enforcement of the federal law requiring dealers to report the loss or theft of firearms and help law enforcement oversee the more than 50,000 firearms dealers nationwide. According to a 2008 analysis by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, more than 30,000 guns in the inventories of firearms dealers were unaccounted for in 2007.)
- Ending the prohibition on public disclosure of data on multiple handgun sales, as well as gun sales information dealers are required to keep that may be required to be reported to the U.S. Attorney General for determining the disposition of one or more firearms in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation.