WASHINGTON -- A group of Democratic congressmen are urging the Obama administration and the Office of Management and Budget to remove an amendment to the budget that prohibits law enforcement officials from tracking guns used in crimes.
Led by Reps. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.), a total of 43 congressmen sent a letter Monday asking the OMB to ignore the so-called Tiahrt Amendments from President Barack Obama's budget for the fiscal year 2014.
“While pharmacies and other fields are required to check for inventory, guns are not,” said Honda, a senior Member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.
"The Tiahrt Amendments block access to vital information that lawmakers, police-officers, and federal agencies need to begin to tackle the epidemic of gun violence in our communities," said Lee in a press release. "We must treat gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic, and no one would ever stop the Centers for Disease Control from tracking data on heart disease."
The Tiahrt Amendments -- policy riders that were first added to spending bills in 2004 by then-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) and have been added to budgetary bills every year since -- removed a government database, provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, that enabled guns recovered in crimes to be traced back to the dealers from public record. The Tiahrt Amendments also made it mandatory for background checks to be destroyed within 24 hours and prevent the ATF from requiring gun dealers to perform inventory checks.
Moran added that he believes a rollback of the Tiahrt Amendments would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to be more effective at reigning in gun violence: "Nearly 60 percent of guns used in crimes originate from one percent of gun stores ... By removing unnecessary restrictions ... we will provide federal, state, and local authorities the tools they need to shut down these bad actors and keep guns out of the hands of criminals."
Mark Glaze, director of gun control advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, also reiterated the organization's opposition to the Tiahrt Amendments and said that the organization supports the "effort to roll back these restrictions." Glaze said the amendments "keep the public, and particularly researchers and elected officials, in the dark about gun traffickers and their operations."