Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued the following statement today about the Obama Administration’s failure to propose, in its FY 2010 budget, repeal of the “Tiahrt Amendments” that require the destruction of most Brady background check records, prohibit the government from requiring gun dealers to fully account for their firearms, and prohibit public access to crucial information about guns used in crime:
“We are profoundly disappointed that President Obama has failed to follow through with his promises for ‘openness’ by reaffirming much of the so-called Tiahrt Amendments. This means a continuation of the reckless Bush-era policies that endanger public safety and make it easier for criminals to obtain illegal firearms.
“President Obama’s proposal undermines the landmark Brady Law by continuing the dangerous Bush Administration policy requiring the destruction of most Brady background check records in just 24 hours. The government has found that this policy has allowed guns to remain in the hands of hundreds of criminals whose gun purchases were mistakenly approved. How can the President reconcile this policy with his recent statement calling for stronger enforcement of our gun laws?
“President Obama continues to bar the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from requiring that gun dealers keep track of their firearms by conducting annual inventories - a standard practice for law-abiding businesses. A Brady Center analysis last year found that more than 30,000 guns were ‘missing’ from licensed gun dealers. Gun dealers who have large numbers of guns ‘disappear’ from their inventory often supply criminals. The D.C.-area snipers killed 10 people using an assault rifle they obtained from a gun shop that ‘lost’ at least 238 guns, including the snipers’ assault rifle, over a three year period.”
“In addition, President Obama has made the Tiahrt Amendments’ unprecedented ban on public disclosure of crime gun trace information even worse than before, now even prohibiting law enforcement from communicating it to the public it serves. Prior to 2003, non-confidential trace data was available to researchers, public officials, the media and the public, and enabled all of us to better understand the sources of illegal guns, patterns of gun trafficking, the role of gun dealers in supplying the illegal market and other key facts informing public policy. With gun violence continuing to lead to high levels of death and injury in so many places in our country, policy makers need more, not less, information on the sources of these crime guns. We are saddened to see this ‘gun exception’ to the President’s stated commitment to ‘an unprecedented level of openness in Government.’”
"The Tiahrt Amendments have always been about pleasing a special interest lobby at the expense of public safety. Congress should delete the proposed language and do what the Obama-Biden ticket called for last year when their campaign said they ‘would repeal the Tiahrt amendment.’”