For Release: Wednesday, July 23, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed appropriations legislation for the Commerce, Justice, and State Departments containing a National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed amendment sponsored by Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) that would severely undermine enforcement of federal gun laws, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) charged today. VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “The worst part of the Tiahrt amendment would require the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to issue Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs) to applicants who do not run stocking gun stores, but instead operate out of homes and offices.”
This would reverse policies implemented during the Clinton Administration that significantly reduced the number of licensed gun dealers, which topped 245,000 in 1994. At that time, there were more gun dealers in America than gas stations. Today, there are approximately 58,500 gun dealers in the U.S. Efforts to reduce the number of “kitchen-table” dealers were prompted by studies including the VPC’s 1992 report More Gun Dealers Than Gas Stations and anecdotal evidence showing that “kitchen-table” dealers contributed heavily to criminal gun trafficking. Many of these dealers sold guns out of cars or apartments in urban areas where gun possession is tightly regulated. In addition to allowing virtually any non-felon to obtain a gun dealer’s license, the Tiahrt amendment would:
- Prohibit the public release of information related to importation and production of firearms the only reliable national information available as to how many guns are produced in a given year, as well as type, caliber, and manufacturer.
- Prohibit the public release of information related to multiple handgun sales. Dealers are required to report the sale of two or more handguns to the same person within five business days. It would also prohibit the release of information related to crime-gun tracing requests.
- Prohibit ATF from issuing a rule requiring licensees to submit to a physical inventory of their stock.
- Require the immediate destruction of records of approved firearms transfers generated by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Require that any gun-tracing studies released by ATF be accompanied by lengthy disclaimers intended to undermine the utility of such data.
Adds Rand, “Representative Tiahrt’s proposal would aid criminal gun traffickers and at the same time devastate ATF’s already weak oversight authority. The Senate should reject this dangerous measure.”