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In a story on NPR today, NPR detailed the problems faced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") , the agency responsible for enforcing the existing gun laws.

These problems include underfunding, Congressional roadblocks, and the lack of a permanent director.  Because of these, and other problems, ATF has great difficulty performing the job it was tasked to do.

You would think that ATF would have the means to investigate guns used in the commission of crimes.  However, NPR reports that even this is problematic.

Congress refuses to allow a centralized gun database, so tracing a weapon used in a crime means a lot of legwork, says former ATF agent William Vizzard.  "They have to contact the manufacturer or importer, who tells them, 'Oh, on July 14, 2009, we shipped that gun to Buckeye Sporting Goods, a wholesaler.' Then you contact Buckeye Sporting Goods, and they say, 'Oh, yeah, we received that gun four days later and we shipped it out to Billy Bob's Bait and Tackle Shop.' Then you go to Billy Bob and you say, 'OK, what do your records say?' "
It today's digital age, I find this an unbelievable waste of time and resources, and this certainly makes it more difficult to trace guns used in the commission of crimes.

Even more incredible is the problem of "missing" guns.  Can you imagine the outrage if pharmacies "lost"   100,000 bottles of narcotics a year?  Yet this appears to be happening with guns.

The Brady Center's Lowy says that more than 100,000 guns are missing from dealers' shelves.  There's a great likelihood that most of those guns were sold off the books to criminals," he says. "Easy way to fix that is to simply require dealers to do an inventory every year of their stock. ATF is prevented from even requiring dealers to do that. That makes absolutely no sense."
While I applaud the recent efforts to pass stronger gun control laws, any legislation must be accompanied by the means to enforce that legislation including adequate funding.   We need to make sure that the NRA and its lobbyists do not insert into legislation "poison pills" that will make the legislation appear to strengthen gun control laws but in reality be laws with no teeth.

And whatever gun control legislation that is proposed should also include provisions to allow law enforcement the means to enforce the legislation that is already on the books.

You can read the NPR story here:

Originally posted to night cat on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:22 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The NRA (6+ / 0-)

    should not be allowed within two continents of the legislative process. I don't remember voting either for or against them.

    •  Unfortunately, the NRA and other well funded (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, AllisonInSeattle

      lobbyists have too much access to members of Congress.  

    •  steve - I think Biden made a tactical mistake (0+ / 0-)

      not inviting the NRA in for a meeting. I think Biden missed an opportunity to do intelligence gathering and show the public that he was open minded and seeking ideas from across the spectrum. He is under no obligation to embrace any of the views of the NRA, but he should have listened. The NRA will have a very big voice on any gun control legislation that is passed by the 113th Congress. Ignoring them does not make Biden's recommendation stronger.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:54:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does nobody here remember how the ATF (0+ / 0-)

    starred in the Romeo Charlie Foxtrot that was the Vernon Howells standoff / slaughter-by-fire outside Waco, Texas, acerca de 1993??? Started 10 years ago next month -- something like 2 weeks into President Clinton's first term...

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:23:50 PM PST

  •  Eh? In Today's Digital Age, Trying to Retrieve a (0+ / 0-)

    lost bank statement from last year is harder than this.

    2 things computers are are
    1) Inconceivably slow, and;
    2) Massively forgetful.

    --For the customer.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:26:54 PM PST

  •  The NRA has to be replaced with another (6+ / 0-)

    organization for responsible gun owners that is pro-2nd amendment but pro responsible gun regulations.

    It can be replaced or forced to change its tune.

    I think another organization is critical to breaking the NRA's power.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:36:44 PM PST

    •  Problem is that I think that the gun dealers (8+ / 0-)

      prefer the NRA.  Their goal is to sell as many guns as possible.  Responsible gun regulations would decrease the number of firearms that they sell.  

      •  They can have the NRA. We need a new organization (0+ / 0-)

        that is for gun owners, that doesn't oppose sensible regulations, but supports gun ownership.
        This is very important to my way of thinking.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:14:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  But talking about gun control in the press (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wilmguy, popsnet

        means huge sales.  i live in a red part of a purple state and grew up with guns.  I was at a meeting last night and all my gun loving colleagues could talk about was how they couldn't get ammo (.223 most often mentioned) and high power and assault type weapons are extremely hard to find right now.

        The best marketing tool the gun companies have right now is the the discusssion of gun control and to keep the meme of  "OMG THE EBIL GOVMENT IS GONNA COME BUST MY DOOR IN AND TAKE ALL MY GUNS" alive as long as they can.

        I am beginning to wonder if the gun manufacturers aren't doing everything they can to perpetuate the debate.

        •  That's one reason they specifically depend on (0+ / 0-)

          people like Alex Jones and La Pierre to go out there and mount an outrageous attack on pro-regulation people. They're throwing gasoline on the fire for a reason: the gun manufacturers like it.

          This time it will backfire on them. This last election was a big step forward for women voters, and mothers are looking at this debate and they're seeing all the reasonable, thoughtful people on on side, and they see the other side creating fictions. Brazenly, stupidly obvious fictions.
          There have been a lot of reasonable pro-2nd amendment, gun-owning people who have taken that scary big first step to the other side of the debate for responsible gun regulation. The movement is all in one direction, and its significant.
          If Boone and Crockett or some other group wanted to massively increase their membership, they could get a lot of new members right now. They just have to start a national campaign and draw a clear line between themselves and the NRA.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 06:15:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't really agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

            First, I totally agree that part of the problem is that we have SO many semi automatic military type weapons being sold and even worse marketed.

            With the decline of hunters, and also with the decline of the rural population the gun industry has shifted focus really from the production and marketing of target and hunting guns, to marketing sort of fear and end times porn.

            Crime is actually at record lows but they have pushed thru concealed carry in nearly every state, and also sort of pushed this narrative where people are going to need big military style guns for the coming apocalypse.

            I honestly think the sort of marketing that is going on right now in the gun industry is actually contributing to the mass shootings.

            Where I don't agree with you is that there has been a huge shift in the gun debate among gun owners themselves.

            I DO agree that in the wake of the CT shootings many gun owners thought there should be more regulation, but then they come here, where people talk about repealing the second amendment, huge taxes on ammo, and banning guns and they walk right back over to the NRA.

            Now I do think the CT shooting energized the anti gun folks, but they are in areas where anti gun dems already reside.

            I fear the current gun debate, with some of the more extreme statements and legislation proposed will basically guarantee we will NOT take back the House, and a number of vulnerable senate dems in rural districts are going to be losing their races in 2014. I'm guessing with Obama's task force the main thing it will accomplish will be that we won't take back the house in 2014 and the senate will be more evenly divided.

            I personally think that high capacity clip production and sale could be banned. Manufacturers of Assault Rifles should be banned from any advertising and there should be a $500 dollar tax on purchase of a new assault style rifle, and gun stores should be able to order them for a customer, but not openly display them.

            Ideally a gun should be like a car with a title that is transferred after a background check to avoid felons getting them. However at this point with a lot of people pushing bans I don't see that passing since gun owners would be afraid once they were all registered then later on it would be easier to round them up.

            But sadly I feel like the major effect of all this focus on guns will be to shift the balance of power back to the GOP.  There is gong to be a democratic over reach on the issue of guns just as the GOP did with war and the economy when they had the majority and we are going to lose the ability to pass a lot of progressive legislation.

            I could be totally wrong on this. However I don't think I am.  I don't see anything really passing but what I see is by going too far on this we will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

            •  There's always the extreme view (outlawing (0+ / 0-)

              guns period), but I think most people here on this site are advocating a few common sense regulations, just as your are, and there are a significant number of others who are solid anti-regulation for electoral political reasons, mainly.

              I don't think we've seen a massive shift yet away from the NRA, however, the NRA has become increasingly shrill and extremist and obviously delusional in their rhetoric, and we've seen some major people on the right, (Joe Scarborough, Joe Manchin, among others) who say that CT is a game-changer for them.
              I do think there is a potential for a non-whacko-ideologist organization to replace the NRA as a voice for the gun owner (as opposed to the gun industry).

              I don't think these people are going to turn "pinko", but I do think they will listen and accept common sense regulations, even more so if they know that there's a moderate voice satisfying their gun rights concerns, as an alternative to the NRA.

              There is not going to be democratic over reach on guns because the 1. the gop controls the House, 2. Obama will not over-reach 3. there is nothing going on in the Senate to make me think they will over-reach.

              This is not going to be the top thing focused on . That will be the economy.
              The gop will attempt to "wedge issue" this once again, but women will make a significant change in the political calculus on this, and there is broader support for gun regulations, and the NRA has walked further out on the right wing limb, so I think your political calculus is off by a few significant points.

              You can't make this stuff up.

              by David54 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:58:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I have to agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

              Two of the people at the meeting i referenced made interesting comments.  one seems to be convinced (sincerely I believe) that if pursued this will result in an urban/rural civil war.  Not sure I agree but understand the depths to which these people believe in it.  And these ar not uneducated hold-up-in-a-Montana-cabin crazy type people.  They are pretty much every day Joes.

              The second guy said something to the effect that his objection is monetary, he claims to have over $50,000 worth of guns and wants to know who is going to compensate him if they take a way his guns.  

              You really have to understand how much many of these people have invested emotionally in the issue.  I have to agree, my fear is if the Dems side push hard on this issue, the GOP will ride it into the congress in 14.

  •  There was another DKos diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandino, popsnet

    recently with similar news. The NRA is getting congress to pass laws that prevent research into gun-related deaths: The NRA's underhanded lobbying of Obamacare stops gun violence research.

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institute for Health (NIH) are not allowed to do research about gun-related deaths.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:56:58 PM PST

    •  Huge Problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is that pro gun politicians and the NRA cite facts all the time about stuff, but yet there has been a concerted effort of those people to actually restrict or black out any collection of data that would undermine their position.

      For instance at least to me I think it would be interesting to know the rate of shootings involving concealed carry people.

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