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'Tiahrt Amendment' faces scrutiny in wake of killings


Here are today's headlines from the Kansas congressional delegation:Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) ![][1][(The Jersey Journal) Mayors: Feds handicapping us by not sharing gun info:][2] The Coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, came to Jersey City yesterday to call for the repeal of a law that restricts federal agencies from sharing data with local officials on the sources of illegal guns.... The coalition seeks repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing with local governments data about the origin of guns that were used in crimes. It also bars local police departments from sharing such information - if they are able to obtain it - with one another, said Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey.... A spokesman for the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., said yesterday that the ATF requested the language in the amendment and it is aimed at protecting law enforcement officers by not releasing gun trace information. The spokesman, Chuck Knapp, said it is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest law enforcement association in America. Knapp said Bloomberg met with Tiahrt in Washington a few months ago and came to some agreements about changes in the amendment."We were pretty surprised when Bloomberg started this tour, when the congressman was working in good faith to alleviate some of the concerns of law enforcement," Knapp said.[(Newark Star-Ledger) Mayors demand access to sources of illegal guns:][3] The mayors said that instead of debating the Virginia Tech shooting, their campaign would remain focused on cutting off the pipeline of illegal guns, which starts with a relatively small number of unscrupulous gun store merchants selling weapons to people who pass them along to criminals. To stop the flow, the mayors say, they first need to know where the illegal guns were originally purchased -- data kept by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. But they're blocked from that information by the so-called Tiahrt Amendment, named for Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who wrote it into a 2003 Department of Justice ap propriations bill prohibiting the ATF from releasing gun-trace data to anyone other than law enforcement agencies and prosecutors involved in "bona fide criminal investigations and prosecutions." Critics say that ban leaves local governments, the media and sometimes even the police out of the loop.[(Metro New York) 'A terrible reminder':][4] Yesterday the group unveiled a TV commercial aimed at shaming Congressman into opposing the Tiahrt Amendment, named after Kansas Republican Todd Tiahrt. That amendment - which has been attached to appropriations bills for the U.S. Justice Department since 2004 - prohibits local police from gaining access to federal gun tracing data. "By continuing to pass this amendment, the police departments of our country are prevented from fully utilizing one of the best investigative tools they have," Bloomberg said. "Congress is effectively putting our police officers directly in the line of fire." The commercial will begin airing this Sunday. It will target Washington, D.C., and districts represented by Congressmen deemed instrumental in determining the fate of the Tiahrt Amendment this year. Sen. Pat Roberts (R)![][5][(TVWeek.com) FDA Closer to Banning New Drug Advertising:][6]A Senate committee is moving forward with legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to ban advertising for the first two years of a new drug's existence. It's the most serious congressional threat yet to the $4.5 billion spent annually on direct-to-consumer drug ads, much of it on TV.... The committee action is likely to set up a June Senate floor vote, and Republicans promised a floor fight over the DTC limits unless changes are made. Advertising and media groups backed the GOP. "I'm not going to go down without a fight on the floor if this proceeds. I do not think it is constitutional," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. He said he's still hopeful of reaching an agreement, but believes strongly that the DTC limits go too far. [1]: http://bioguide.congress.gov/bioguide/photo/T/T000260.jpg [2]: http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-4/117696415376780.xml&coll=3 [3]: http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1176959874277500.xml&coll=1 [4]: http://ny.metro.us/metro/local/article/A_terrible_reminder/8066.html [5]: http://roberts.senate.gov/Roberts-020405-18060-080-CFFflipped.jpg [6]: http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=11912


Jamesaust 8 years, 7 months ago

As we saw in the aftermath of 9/11, any civil liberty - searches, habeas corpus, torture, privacy - can be limited or ignored by Executive fiat, unaccountable to the Congress, unreviewable by the courts ... but not gun purchase records. Given the perhaps understandable hysteria in the Fall of 2001, it is telling that one area - guns - was not and could not be touched in the least.

Former Attorney General Ashcroft would not subject the NRA's extreme interpretation of the 2nd Amendment in favor of anti-terrorism measures. On September 16, 2001, the FBI began checking a list of 186 suspect people against federal gun purchase records, which showed some were documented as purchasing firearms. The next day an Assistant Attorney General squashed any further searches of this type. Another request by the FBI in October 2001 to check 1,200 names was denied. The Bush Administration insisted and continues to insist that the Constitution forbids the use of gun purchase records to identify terrorists.

As anyone with a fifth grade reading ability and common sense knows, nothing in the Second Amendment forbids the retention of records or their use for law enforcement or national security purposes. (In contrast, the Constitution puts explicit limits on other rights restrictions for these purposes.)

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