Seven local police chiefs are among 23 from across California and about 200 from coast to coast who wrote to Congress today urging the repeal of legislation that they say keeps police and local governments from accessing crime gun trace data that would help them fight illegal gun trafficking in their communities.
They’re complaining that a provision in a recent Justice Department spending bill “significantly restricts the disclosure of crime gun trace data by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF),” their letter says.
“This provision, the original sponsor of which was Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Ka), has appeared in appropriations legislation in various forms dating back to fiscal year 2004,” the letter continues. “It is our position that this language has functioned to protect corrupt gun dealers at the expense of effective law enforcement. We urge that it not be included in the appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008.”
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the issue next week.
“It is time to stop hiding the evidence that the vast majority of guns used by criminals to prey on our community are coming from a small group of corrupt gun dealers,” said Chaska, Minn. Police Chief Scott Knight, who chairs a gun-policy committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said today at a Washington, D.C. news conference organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “The only people benefiting from the hiding of this data are the gun traffickers and the dealers who supply them. And the losers are our city’s efforts to stop illegal guns.”
Signing today’s letter were Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker, Emeryville Police Chief Ken James, San Jose Police Chief Robert Davis, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong, Stockton Police Chief Wayne Hose, Richmond Police Chief Wayne Magnus and Vacaville Police Chief Richard Word, as well as the California Police Chiefs Association.