Since the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, National Rifle Association leaders have spoken out against any form of gun control. Instead, they call for “enforcing the more than 20,000 gun laws already on the books.”
That’s interesting because the NRA and its Teapublican pawns in Congress have placed an increasing number of roadblocks in the way of those charged with enforcing the laws. They have continually discouraged mayors and city police from enforcing gun laws, saying that enforcement should be left to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Yet Teapublican senators in the pockets of the NRA have refused to confirm the appointment of an ATF director since 2006. They have not confirmed appointments by either President Obama or former President Bush for fear that those appointments will be too aggressive in enforcing laws. As a result, the current Acting Director B. Todd Jones must commute to Washington from his post as US Attorney in Minnesota.
That’s right, Jones is splitting time between two full-time jobs!
Moreover, as the result of budget constraints, the ATF has not added to its staff of 2,500 agents…the number it had when it became a separate bureau in 1972. These 2,500 agents are charged with policing the more than 100,000 licensed gun dealers in the US in addition to enforcing alcohol and tobacco laws. If that isn’t daunting enough, thanks to Teapublicans, the ATF is forbidden by law to inspect a dealer more than once per year. Of course, that’s hardly an issue, since the bureau doesn’t have enough staff to inspect each dealer more than once every 17 years!
In addition, an NRA-written amendment sponsored by a Teapublican Congressman and inserted into a Congressional spending bill banned the ATF from requiring gun dealers to track their own inventory. The amendment also gave dealers the power to ignore police requests for assistance in tracking guns. It ended the oversight of used gun sales. It required the destruction of background check records within 24 hours of the purchase in order to protect the privacy of gun owners. It also banned the ATF from creating a national registry of gun transactions or even publishing statistics on crimes committed with guns!
Further, NRA bills passed by Teapublican-controlled state legislatures have so liberalized gun laws that it is virtually impossible for law enforcement to prosecute “straw buyers” who purchase guns on behalf of drug cartels, gangs and other criminals. That is what led to the frustration of ATF agents who resorted to the tactics at the heart of the Fast and Furious operation.
Police and the ATF know that one percent of the nation’s gun dealers sell the weapons involved in 57 percent of crimes. Yet they are powerless to do anything about it as the result of NRA-endorsed Teapublican obstruction. Remember that the next time there’s a mass shooting.
More important, remember that the next time you vote!