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ATF Long Gun Provision in CJS Bill

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my strong objection to an unwise and dangerous policy provision that is included in the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill on the floor today. It would undermine the ability of Federal law enforcement to investigate and curb gun trafficking along the Southwest border.

In August of last year, the ATF began a program to require licensed gun dealers in the four most dangerous border States to report when an individual buys multiple assault rifles within 5 business days--just as all dealers have reported multiple handgun sales for over 20 years. The current rule is narrowly tailored to generate useful intelligence on illegal gun trafficking by Mexican drug cartels. According to ATF data, 70 percent of firearms recovered and traced in drug cartel crimes in Mexico originated from the United States. We know that semiautomatic assault rifles sold by U.S. dealers near the border fuel Mexican cartel violence--violence that has killed more than 47,000 people in Mexico, including thousands of police and military personnel.

This rule is working. In just the past 9 months, ATF opened more than 120 criminal investigations based on multiple assault rifle sales reports. And this action is constitutional. The rule is indisputably constitutional. The authority to operate such a program has been upheld by Federal courts. So there's no question about the legal authority. But this bill that we will vote on today, at the behest of the NRA and other gun groups, would block funding for this vital law enforcement program.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long list of irresponsible actions this Congress has taken on gun policy, such as the fact that due to Congressional action, loaded firearms are now permitted in National Parks. The D.C. voting rights bill that enjoyed joint bipartisan support was scuttled by requiring restrictions on the D.C. City Council regarding the type of gun safety laws that they could enact if they wanted their right to vote.

Restrictions blocking State and local law enforcement access to important crime gun trace data were made permanent. Just last year, the House passed legislation to override the concealed carry requirements of individual States, establishing a lowest common denominator Federal standard.

Despite all of these actions to weaken gun laws, judging by the outlandish statements from the NRA, you would think that the Second Amendment was under constant bombardment. Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the NRA, said last year that the claim that the Obama administration has done virtually nothing to restrict the rights of gun owners is ``a big fat stinking lie.'' He went further to claim that the President's lack of action is ``all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country.'' Again, another LaPierre quote.

Actions are supposed to speak louder than words, but apparently for some people, crazy conspiracy fantasies speak loudest of all.

Instead of weakening gun laws further, we should be passing commonsense measures that are supported by the vast majority of Americans. In fact, according to a poll conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, 82 percent of NRA members and 86 percent of non-NRA gun owners support prohibiting suspected terrorists from purchasing guns; 69 percent of NRA members and 85 percent of non-NRA gun owners support background checks for all gun sales at gun shows.

And yet the NRA opposes these commonsense restrictions and gets this Congress to do so as well.

There are bills introduced in Congress right now to address these two issues, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act and the Fix Gun Checks Act. Neither one has received so much as a subcommittee hearing in this Republican Congress.

Instead, we are debating a bill that includes a provision that would remove a modest, yet valuable, tool for Federal law enforcement to stop the illegal smuggling of firearms and the killing of thousands of innocent people. Where are our priorities?

I do want to thank Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah for including $12 million in the CJS bill to implement the NICS Amendments Improvement Act. It's a $7 million increase over last year; that's progress. In fact, it's a program that assists States in the establishment and upgrade of information such as mental health records entered into databases that are used to determine eligibility for firearm purchases. If we had had that, perhaps our colleague, Gabby Giffords, would not have been shot. Increased funding is a step in the right direction, but the inclusion of the ATF provision is not. It will only serve to undermine Federal law enforcement's ability to stop illegal gun trafficking. Congress needs to stop weakening gun policy to serve the narrow interests of the gun lobby and start enacting laws to protect the safety of the American public.

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