The NRA - A Criminal's Best Friend
National Gun Victims Action Council
Based on the Center for American Progress Report
Blindfolded, and with One Hand Tied Behind the Back
First in a Multi-part Series
Did You Know That To Maximize Industry Sales To Criminals the NRA Made Sure These Gun Laws Were on the Books?
While the nation watches NRA-indebted politicians beat down new gun legislation this week, many are unaware of shocking, pro-criminal legislation the NRA has already pushed through. Despite the NRA’s rants about “bad guys” and how “criminals won’t follow laws,” legislation that actually protects illegal gun buyers and sellers is continually passed behind the public’s back.
It is hard to believe lawmakers and the gun lobby actually pass laws to prevent government agencies from catching criminals–the stated goal of both groups. But since 1979, there have been laws passed that are to keep the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from doing exactly that.
Exploiting “Must Pass” Spending Bills
The NRA’s pro-criminal, anti-ATF legislation is usually tacked on to appropriation bills which are considered “must pass” and get little debate or discussion, says the Center for American Progress in a new report. Maneuvering such riders through via big spending bills is so effective, it is like the “legislation version of catching a ride on the only train out of town,” admits Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm. Because of such riders, when a gun is found at a crime scene, ATF officials have to wade through boxes of yellowing paperwork and microfilm and make phone call after phone call to potential dealers–because they are prevented by law from assembling a computerized gun sales database. Yes, current gun crime methodology is right out of an old episode of Columbo, Baretta or Miami Vice, before desk computers, thanks to the NRA. Let’s get those bad guys.
Tiahrt Amendments: Created to Help the Gun Industry
Another appropriations rider that flew under the public radar is a Tiahrt Amendment that says the FBI may only retain records of gun buyers who pass the National Instant Criminal Background Check for 24 hours. The Amendments are named after former Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) who admits that he wrote the laws to help his cronies in the gun industry. I wanted to “make sure I was fulfilling the needs of my friends who are firearms dealers,” he said. Straw buyers–people who are legally allowed to buy a firearm and funnel them to criminals–must love this law. They can work every dealer in town and their purchase records dry up after 24 hours. Whee!
Corrupt gun dealers must also love this law. Red flags denoting their straw buyer sales are destroyed in 24 hours and the first “red flag” law enforcement will likely see will be the dealers’ guns at crime scenes (which could have been averted). Another Tiahrt Amendment actually prohibits using evidence of a gun dealer’s link to such crime guns to revoke his license. Hey, all he did was sell lethal weapons that caused injury and death.
Following passage of the pro-criminal Tiahrt Amendments, the number of guns sold by one suspect dealer, Badger Guns & Ammo in Milwaukee, that were recovered at crime scenes increased by 203 percent, reports the Center for American Progress. Thank you, NRA.
Maximizing Industry Sales To Criminals
It’s easy to see why the NRA wants pro-criminal laws. Despite its bombast about liberty and patriotism, it is just the gun manufacturers trade group trying to sell product. Illegal sales are still sales—the criminal market represents 25 percent of all gun sales each year and the NRA does everything it can to protect this shadow market. It then doubles and triples legal sales by yelling “the criminals have guns”– in a mendacious business plan that plays the two sides against each other.
What is harder to understand is why elected officials would allow gun manufacturers to play such a lucrative and deadly game at their constituents’ expense. Would they allow similar laws prohibiting safety data and regulation in the automobile, food or health care industries? END
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Martha Rosenberg is an investigative reporter and editorial cartoonist whose commentary has appeared in the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Journal-Constitution, New Orleans Times-Picayune and other top US dailies. Rosenberg began reporting about the gun industry in 2005 when shootings at the Red Lake Indian Reservation, a Wisconsin church service and a Wisconsin hunting area left 22 dead--and two of the shooters had passed background checks. She has appeared on CSPAN, the Ed Schulz show and numerous radio shows.