Durbin, Senators Introduce Gun Safety Bill To Allow Preservation & Disclosure Of Federal Gun Data

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) to introduce bicameral legislation to greatly enhance the ability of law enforcement to investigate and solve gun crimes, crack down on gun trafficking and negligent gun dealers, and allow researchers to study gun violence and its impact on communities across the country.  The Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act would enable the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to collect, preserve, and disclose gun records and gun tracing data. 

“The gun violence epidemic has seeped into every corner of American life, reaching our children’s schools and our neighborhoods.  To reduce this violence, we need to make effective use of all the data and analytic tools at our disposal, including crime gun tracing,” Durbin said.  “This legislation will remove archaic restrictions on data that have hampered our ability to solve and prevent gun crimes.” 

Since 2003, Republicans have restricted the ability of the ATF and FBI to collect, preserve, and make public a range of gun records and data by attaching so called “Tiahrt Amendments” to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) yearly funding bill.  The Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act would repeal the following Tiahrt provisions: 

  • End the prohibition on ATF from releasing firearm trace data for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public;
  • End the requirement for the FBI to destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours of approval; 
  • End the provision that makes it extremely difficult for ATF to retrieve firearms from prohibited persons who are mistakenly sold guns or from gun owners who become ineligible to possess guns;  
  • End the prohibition on ATF requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement; (Gun dealer inventories facilitate enforcement of the federal law requiring dealers to report the loss or theft of firearms and help law enforcement oversee the more than 50,000 firearms dealers nationwide.  According to a 2008 analysis by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, more than 30,000 guns in the inventories of firearms dealers were unaccounted for in 2007.)
  • End the prohibition on public disclosure of data on multiple handgun sales, as well as gun sales information dealers are required to keep that may be required to be reported to the U.S. Attorney General for determining the disposition of one or more firearms in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation.

Joining Durbin and Menendez in cosponsoring the Senate bill are Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).