I don't know why we are arguing about the NRA
by Diana - 12/27/12 8:35 AM
They've already won.
"The bottom line is the gun lobby will oppose any nominee who promises to be a strong and effective director of the A.T.F.," said Dennis Henigan, vice president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Indeed, it was persistent lobbying by the N.R.A. that helped to get the confirmation requirement instated.
But there's more to the ATF's ineffectiveness than a lack of director. A thicket of laws and restrictions keep the bureau from instituting policies that could help it to reduce gun violence.
For instance, the A.T.F. is prohibited from creating a federal registry of gun transactions. So when law enforcement needs to identify a gun-owner, officials at the ATF frequently have to page through boxes in a warehouse basement, or trace the transaction through the manufacturer and wholesaler. As the New York Times points out, TV detectives have it much easier than their real-life counterparts.
There's more—the Firearm Owner's Protection Act of 1986 prohibits the A.T.F. from making more than one unannounced inspection per year of licensed gun dealers. The Tiahrt Amendments keep the bureau from using tracing data in some court cases, and require background checks of gun buyers to be destroyed within 24 hours of approval.
While gun control advocates say measures like a transaction registry could help keep guns out of the wrong hands, pro-gun groups, backed by the N.R.A., say that such a registry could be misused to harm lawful gun owners. While the two sides argue, Congress remains inactive..