NRA Life Member John Ashcroft Announces Plan to Destroy National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Records

For Release: Thursday, June 28, 2001

AG Chooses NRA Over FBI 

NRA Wish-List Item Is Death Certificate For Brady Law 

Washington, DC – The call today by Attorney General and National Rifle Association Life Member John Ashcroft for the virtually immediate destruction of all records of approved purchasers retained for the audit log of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a death certificate for the Brady law, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) warned today. The VPC, a nonprofit educational organization working to stop gun death and injury, was the first gun control organization to oppose the nomination of Ashcroft for Attorney General. The audit log is the key tool in preventing fraud and abuse of NICS. Earlier reports had stated that the retention period would be cut from 90 to 45 days.

VPC Litigation Director and Legislative Counsel Mathew Nosanchuk states, “The so- called `real-time’ audit proposed by the Attorney General in fact equals no real audit. By choosing the NRA over the FBI, the Attorney General has put untold American lives in jeopardy. This ruling will put guns into the hands of criminals, wife beaters, and the mentally disturbed guaranteed. This is an outrageous and dangerous action by the Attorney General. During his confirmation hearings, John Ashcroft promised that he would work to place public safety and law enforcement concerns over the extremist agenda of the gun lobby. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.”

The announcement is a 180-degree shift in Justice Department policy. Just this month, Justice Department lawyers filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing immediate destruction of the records. In the brief, Ashcroft’s Justice Department lawyers stated that there was a “particularly great” need to conduct audits “given the confidential and valuable information the system provides.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have cited the need for the audit log to ensure the integrity of NICS. This week the Court let stand a lower district court ruling granting the Department authority to retain the records.

Adds Nosanchuk, “Today’s decision isn’t about sound public policy, but bare-knuckle politics. Three days ago the Supreme Court gave the Justice Department the clear authority to retain the audit log records. Today’s pandering action by the Attorney General proves that the NRA is not only operating out of the White House, but running the Justice Department. It’s no coincidence that NRA Life Member Ashcroft is currently featured on the cover of the NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom magazine.”

Last month the VPC launched, the leading source of ongoing information on Ashcroft, his pro-gun activities and gun lobby ties, as well as his enforcement of current gun laws. The site can also be reached through the VPC’s main web site at



About the Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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