Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The NYT on the Washington Post Piece

A great op-ed.

As a new Congress looms, we suggest lawmakers travel to Washington by way of West Virginia and an obscure federal building called the National Tracing Center. There they can see workers laboring through unmanageably high backlogs of handwritten paper records submitted by the nation’s gun dealers. This is Congress’s handiwork — at the behest of the gun lobby and to the detriment of public safety. 

Each year the center receives 300,000 inquiries from police officers trying to track weapons from tens of thousands of gun deaths. But it is prohibited, by law, from collecting gun ownership records through a modern computerized database. Instead, paper prevails in assorted scraps. Workers huddle over desks with tape and magnifying glass, while crime marches on. 

The center’s plight was described in a Washington Post report detailing the insidious roadblocks and lethal damage wrought by bipartisan pandering to the gun lobby. Congress’s failure is also clear in the underfinancing and short staffing at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Beleaguered enforcement agents must monitor 115,000 firearms dealers with 600 agents — the same number as three decades ago.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. Surely those paltry 600 agents are hurting, seing that they administer 80% fewer licenced dealers than ten years ago. One third the number of dealers in 1975.

    Financing and staffing at the ATF isn't declining either, even with large drops of recorded gun violence.

  2. I thought we wanted to go away from computers and back to paper here in TN - at least for voting...