US SENATE ANNOUNCEMENT ON GUN TRACKING SIGNALS BOOST FOR NJ CRIME FIGHTING
Today, New Jersey's Senators applauded the announcement that the Tiahrt Amendment - which effectively blocks public, Congressional and even a wide swath of law enforcement access to a national database tracking firearms - would be removed from this year's Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee spending bill. In an April letter from Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) which was also signed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the Senators pushed to restore broad access to vital statistics on the origins of guns used in crimes by urging the committee to strike the amendment. (To view their letter sent to the Appropriations Committee, visit: http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/Tiahrt.pdf)
In the years before the information was restricted, data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm's National Trace Center showed that the overwhelming majority of guns used to commit crimes in a number of urban areas originated out of state. In essence, criminals have subverted states with strong gun laws, like New Jersey and Massachusetts, by bringing in guns from states with lax laws.
"With better access to gun data, we can work to shut down the iron pipeline between states with lax gun laws into states with strong regulations, like New Jersey," said Menendez. "Information is a powerful tool in the battle against crime. We should be doing everything in our power to combat violent crimes, yet the Tiahrt amendment has tied the hands of law enforcement and lawmakers for years. I am thankful that the subcommittee has heeded our calls to strike this dangerous provision from the bill so that we can put our full efforts behind cracking down on this problem."
"As violent crime continues to increase across the nation, our communities need every available tool to combat this violence," said Sen. Lautenberg, who questioned Michael Sullivan, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on this issue at a Senate hearing on April 19. "Local officials should not have their hands tied when fighting crime, especially in New Jersey, where so many guns used in crimes come from out of state. The Tiahrt language has hindered law enforcement for far too long. I commend and thank Sen. Mikulski and will work with her on the Appropriations Committee to make sure that the Tiahrt amendment stays where it belongson the cutting room floor."