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Senator Denounces Setback In Tracking Guns Used In Crimes

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) denounced the failure to strike language restricting gun data, commonly known as the Tiahrt Amendment, in the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee markup today. This provision effectively blocks public, Congressional and even a wide swath of law enforcement access to a national database tracking firearms. States with strong gun control laws, such as New Jersey and New York, are at a disadvantage under the Tiahrt amendment because criminals can import guns from states with more lax gun laws without being effectively tracked.

The Senators plan on introducing legislation to lift this ban and restore broad access to vital statistics on the origins of guns used in crimes.

"Without this law enforcement tool, we are at a major disadvantage as we try to shut down the iron pipeline," said Menendez. "Gun related crimes are a major concern for families and communities throughout New Jersey and the nation. Law enforcement and lawmakers should have all the tools necessary to fight gun trafficking and illegal guns, yet this legislation continues to resurface, stripping down our ability to combat this problem. I am disappointed with the developments in the House today, and pledge to continue to work to get rid of this hazardous ban on information."

"As violent crime continues to increase across the nation, our communities need every available tool to combat this violence," said Lautenberg. "We should do all we can to help local officials fight 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."

"The flow of illegal guns into our streets and communities in New York and across the country is a scourge, killing civilians and police alike, ruining lives and destroying families. We all want to fight crime and get illegal guns off our streets, but in order to do that, we must give law enforcement the information and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. For years, the Tiahrt amendment has made it more difficult and more dangerous for police officers to combat illegal gun trafficking. I commend my colleagues from New Jersey in taking up this fight with me on this critical issue," Senator Clinton said.

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, by bringing in guns from states with lax laws.

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