The PJ Tatler

New York Times Wants a Computerized National Gun Database

See if you can spot the agenda behind this NYT story on the ATF.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been without a permanent director for six years, as President Obama recently noted. But even if someone were to be confirmed for the job, the agency’s ability to thwart gun violence is hamstrung by legislative restrictions and by loopholes in federal gun laws, many law enforcement officials and advocates of tighter gun regulations say.

For example, under current laws the bureau is prohibited from creating a federal registry of gun transactions. So while detectives on television tap a serial number into a computer and instantly identify the buyer of a firearm, the reality could not be more different.

When law enforcement officers recover a gun and serial number, workers at the bureau’s National Tracing Center here — a windowless warehouse-style building on a narrow road outside town — begin making their way through a series of phone calls, asking first the manufacturer, then the wholesaler and finally the dealer to search their files to identify the buyer of the firearm.

About a third of the time, the process involves digging through records sent in by companies that have closed, in many cases searching by hand through cardboard boxes filled with computer printouts, hand-scrawled index cards or even water-stained sheets of paper.

In an age when data is often available with a few keystrokes, the A.T.F. is forced to follow this manual routine because the idea of establishing a central database of gun transactions has been rejected by lawmakers in Congress, who have sided with the National Rifle Association, which argues that such a database poses a threat to the Second Amendment. In other countries, gun rights groups argue, governments have used gun registries to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens.


And in this country, some in the media abuse the Freedom of Information Act to paint scarlet letters on law-abiding gun owners. The New York Times is jealous of the Westchester Journal-News and wishes it could do nationally, what that paper did locally this week. It hides this agenda behind the old “advocates say” trick.

Advocates for increased gun regulation, however, contend that in a country plagued by gun violence, a central registry could help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and allow law enforcement officials to act more effectively to prevent gun crime.

Can ya quote one? Can they explain how keeping tabs on the law-abiding will help stop criminals, who by definition live outside the law?

Click to the story’s second page and you’ll see a very rare thing: The New York Times mentions Fast and Furious.

Mr. Gottlieb said the “low point” [for the ATF] came with the bungled gun trafficking investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious, in which A.T.F. agents, in an effort to trace guns to a network based in Arizona, did not quickly intervene as the weapons were smuggled over the border to Mexico. Last Wednesday, in a development that may inflame the controversy further, Mr. Grassley sent letters to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General demanding an investigation and requesting more information about why a gun bought by an A.T.F. agent involved in Operation Fast and Furious was found at the scene of a homicide in Mexico.


It’s Sen. Grassley’s fault for “inflaming” things with his notions about accountability. Shame on him!

Read the whole thing. The bottom line is that the Times wants a national gun database. The entire point of the news article is to editorialize in favor of one.

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