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Editorial From Valley News: ATF’s Firearms Tracing Hurt by Absurd Law

By Valley News Editorial Board

When law enforcement agents seek information on guns found at crime scenes, they call the firearms tracing center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Agents at the tracing center, in West Virginia, then try to establish a chain of custody based on the gun’s serial number, manufacturer, distributor and retailer.

The agents pursue this task in the most inefficient, wasteful and time-consuming manner imaginable, manually searching records — about 800 million of them — because federal law purportedly prevents the center from organizing them into a searchable digital database.

This absurd prohibition needs to be lifted.

The law, the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, resulted from a marriage of ideological rigidity and political cowardice. It expressly prohibits “any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions.”

Of course, if a gun sale is legal, and it’s made by a federally licensed dealer, then all that information exists. The National Rifle Association doesn’t want officers of the law to be able to access it efficiently.

To read the full editorial click here. 


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