WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a founding member of the Senate Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, and U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-12) Wednesday led a growing bicameral coalition of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress in a renewed legislative effort to enhance the ability of local law enforcement to investigate and solve gun crimes, crack down on gun trafficking and negligent gun dealers, and allow researchers to finally study gun violence and its impact on communities across the nation.
The Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act would require the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to collect, preserve, and disclose gun records and gun tracing data.
“For too long, the NRA has had an iron grip on Congressional Republicans – actively working to keep critical information such as gun records and tracing data out of the public domain, making it that much harder for law enforcement agencies to solve gun crimes, disrupt gun trafficking schemes, and keep our communities safe,” Menendez said. “In fact, my GOP colleagues have for years inserted the so-called ‘Tiahrt Amendments’ in routine spending bills to ensure that gun records and tracing data never see the light of day, and in many cases require the data to be completely destroyed. It is time we repeal these provisions and give our law enforcement access to critical information that can help make our communities safer from the scourge of gun violence.”
“From Buffalo to Monterey Park, the threat of gun violence looms over all of our communities. And for too long, Republicans in Congress, the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby have stood in the way of meaningful gun reforms that could help bring an end to this horrific violence and ensure public safety,” Lee said. “It’s long past time to remove the Tiahrt restrictions so the FBI and ATF can collect and maintain the data needed to investigate and prevent gun violence. I’m proud to reintroduce the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act and lead this effort with Senator Menendez.”
Since 2003, Republicans have insisted on restricting the ATF and FBI’s ability to collect, preserve, and make public a range of gun records and tracing data by attaching so-called ‘Tiahrt Amendments’ to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) yearly funding bill.
The Menendez-Lee legislation would repeal:
- The prohibition on the ATF from releasing firearm tracing data for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public;
- The prohibition on consolidating or centralizing records that gun dealers are required to maintain;
- The requirement that the FBI destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours;
- The prohibition on the ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement to enforce the federal law requiring dealers report the loss or theft of firearms.
The Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act is supported by several organizations, including Brady, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Newtown Action Alliance, and the Center for American Progress.
“Decades ago, the gun industry and its congressional allies blindfolded the American people to protect the industry’s negligent behavior and profit margins, allowing illegal guns to flow unfettered into our communities,” stated Brady President Kris Brown. “We desperately need to rescind the Tiahrt Amendments, so that researchers, journalists, community leaders, and the American public are able to better understand how crime guns flow into their communities, as well as design and implement solutions that work. Brady is grateful to Sen. Menendez and Rep. Lee for their leadership and for championing this incredibly important bill.”
“Ending America’s gun violence epidemic begins with understanding its causes,” said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud Senator Menendez and Congresswoman Lee for leading the way to repeal the gun lobby-backed restrictions in the law that have chilled the release of life-saving information about the rogue gun dealers that flood our communities with illegal guns.”
“For too long, appropriations riders and restrictions have hampered ATF’s ability to properly enforce our gun laws, combat crime, and address gun violence. With gun deaths at record high levels, it is imperative that Congress ensure ATF is able to effectively regulate the gun industry and enforce gun laws. We thank Senator Menendez and Representative Lee for introducing the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act to allow ATF to better protect public safety,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Giffords Federal Affairs Director.
“Over one million Americans have been shot during the last decade since our neighbor killed 26 children and educators and Sandy Hook Elementary School. Gun deaths have increased to over 48,000 in 2021. For the last 20 years, the NRA-backed Tiahrt Amendment has severely limited the ability of the ATF and the FBI to do their job to keep our families and communities safe from gun violence. We thank Senator Menendez and Congresswoman Lee for reintroducing the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act to help the federal agencies to do their job of regulating the gun industry and enforcing the nation’s gun laws, and improving transparency”, said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis but historically has not been treated as such, leaving researchers without access to basic data to study gun violence and ways to combat the threat. The Tiahrt Amendments require records to be destroyed daily and in turn limits the ability of the FBI and ATF to modernize their data collection and management systems. These restrictions hamper research and interfere with the federal government’s ability to enforce existing gun laws and protect the public,” said Nick Wilson, Senior Director of Gun Violence Prevention at Center for American Progress. “We applaud Senator Menendez and Representative Lee for standing up to the gun lobby and introducing this important bill.”
Joining Sen. Menendez in cosponsoring this bill in the Senate are Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). In the House of Representatives the bill is also cosponsored by Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.-01), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.-05), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.-04), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.-18), Sean Casten (D-Ill.-06), Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.-25), Jason Crow (D-Colo.-06), Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.-At-Large), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.37), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.-26), Adam Smith (D-Wash.-09), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.-10), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.-09), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.-44), Bill Keating (D-Mass.-09), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.-05), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.-12), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.02), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.-07), Andre Carson (D-Ind.-07), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.-03), and Maxwell Frost (D-FL.-10).