Letter: Adequate resources needed to enforce existing gun laws
This is a response to the public forum letter by an NRA member headlined “Enforced Laws We Already Have to Provide Enough Gun Control,” printed on Sunday, Jan. 20.
Enforcement is only achieved if adequate resources are provided. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has only 2,500 agents to regulate over 100,000 licensed gun dealers. That number has not risen since 1972. Michael Bouchard, former ATF Director of Field Operations, said in an interview with The Washington Post in 2010, “This agency isn’t allowed to computerize gun ownership records, hasn’t had a confirmed leader since 2006 and faces myriad restrictions that slow down and complicate efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals all because the gun lobby would get too concerned.”
ATF agents cannot inspect a licensed gun dealer more than once a year and, as reported by The New York Times in December 2012, no federal registry of gun transactions can be maintained. The Washington Post reported in December 2010 the lobbying efforts of the NRA opposed an ATF proposal to require gun dealers to report multiple sales of rifles and shotguns in an effort to stop smuggling of weapons to Mexico.
The Tiahrt Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 2003, is characterized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which oppose it, as standing in the way of law enforcement efforts to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals by keeping the spotlight off of the relationship between rogue gun dealers and the black market. This amendment is also opposed by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The amendment is supported by the NRA.
The previously referred to Jan. 20 letter stated than an ATF questionnaire must be completed by everyone before purchasing a gun. The ATF estimates that 2 out of every 5 guns change hands without a background check; therefore, no questionnaire. Because of the gun show “loophole,” an ATF study found 30 percent of all crime guns can be traced to gun shows and flea markets. All four guns used in the Columbine school shootings were bought at gun shows without background checks and questionnaires.
The proposal to close this “loophole” and require universal background checks in every instance was rejected by the NRA. In Nevada in January, Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA, said “there are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners — to tax them or take them.”
I am a gun owner, retired law enforcement and former police firearms trainer. I have seen more than enough violence and know firsthand that laws are only effective if those given the responsibility of enforcement are provided adequate support and resources.
I believe assault type weapons and high capacity ammunition clips belong with the military and law enforcement only. When the NRA says that we should enforce the laws already on the books, look no further than the NRA lobbyists and leaders for the reason why that is so difficult.