Bay Area police chiefs want gun-data access

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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Oaktowngal

    Ride on Chief Tucker!

  • What they don’t tell you is that the Fraternal Order of Police and the BATFE have both come out in favor of the Tiahrt Amendment that keeps these records restricted to bonafide law enforcement investigations.