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In a story on NPR today, NPR detailed the problems faced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") , the agency responsible for enforcing the existing gun laws.

These problems include underfunding, Congressional roadblocks, and the lack of a permanent director.  Because of these, and other problems, ATF has great difficulty performing the job it was tasked to do.

You would think that ATF would have the means to investigate guns used in the commission of crimes.  However, NPR reports that even this is problematic.

Congress refuses to allow a centralized gun database, so tracing a weapon used in a crime means a lot of legwork, says former ATF agent William Vizzard.  "They have to contact the manufacturer or importer, who tells them, 'Oh, on July 14, 2009, we shipped that gun to Buckeye Sporting Goods, a wholesaler.' Then you contact Buckeye Sporting Goods, and they say, 'Oh, yeah, we received that gun four days later and we shipped it out to Billy Bob's Bait and Tackle Shop.' Then you go to Billy Bob and you say, 'OK, what do your records say?' "
It today's digital age, I find this an unbelievable waste of time and resources, and this certainly makes it more difficult to trace guns used in the commission of crimes.

Even more incredible is the problem of "missing" guns.  Can you imagine the outrage if pharmacies "lost"   100,000 bottles of narcotics a year?  Yet this appears to be happening with guns.

The Brady Center's Lowy says that more than 100,000 guns are missing from dealers' shelves.  There's a great likelihood that most of those guns were sold off the books to criminals," he says. "Easy way to fix that is to simply require dealers to do an inventory every year of their stock. ATF is prevented from even requiring dealers to do that. That makes absolutely no sense."
While I applaud the recent efforts to pass stronger gun control laws, any legislation must be accompanied by the means to enforce that legislation including adequate funding.   We need to make sure that the NRA and its lobbyists do not insert into legislation "poison pills" that will make the legislation appear to strengthen gun control laws but in reality be laws with no teeth.

And whatever gun control legislation that is proposed should also include provisions to allow law enforcement the means to enforce the legislation that is already on the books.

You can read the NPR story here:

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/08/168889491/gun-control-advocates-say-atfs-hands-have-been-tied

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Originally posted to night cat on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:22 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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