Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Criminal's Best Friend

Erica Goode and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times report that neither President Obama nor his immediate predecessor has been able to get a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs confirmed in six years.  Additionally

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.

As children would have put it decades ago, you have three guesses who is behind forcing a critical law enforcement to employ 1970s technology... and the first two guesses don't count.   Goode/Stolberg explain

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.

Apparently, though, it's never too late to warn liberals don't touch our guns.   The Second Amendment project director at the right-wing, pseudo-libertarian Independence Institute maintains “We don’t have an automated database of everybody who’s had an abortion or of anyone who owns controversial books."

Having an automated database of everyone who has undergone an abortion would be slightly odd when he have no such record of everyone who has undergone an abortion- nor of anyone who has had a colonoscopy, CAT scan, or tracheotomy.  We do, however, have one of individuals waiting for organ transplants because it facilitates the preservation of life.  

There is only one reason we don't have that database for people who possess a weapon whose purpose is to kill. (And, yes, if kept for personal protection the owner needs to be willing to use it if necessary.)  It would allow us to preserve life and would discomfort  the Criminal Enabler Cartel, less accurately known as the National Rifle Association.

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