Data Shortage on Guns Mean Police Can’t Connect the Dots: Ex-ATF Agent


As Colorado legislators push closer to passing a spate of new gun laws, they have almost no data about who owns firearms in the state or where criminals get their guns, says the Denver Post. Coloradans do not have to register their guns with the government. Background checks required to purchase firearms are destroyed within 24 hours of approval by federal law. A state permit is required to carry a concealed weapon, but Colorado keeps no list of who has one – that’s up to each sheriff. When considering only “crime guns” – the ones used to kill, shoot or threaten in the course of robberies, carjackings or other crimes – there is no state database that shows whether those guns were bought legally, stolen or obtained through so-called “straw purchases” in which a person who can pass a background check buys it for someone who can’t. The shortage of information is fallout from years of battle between advocates of stricter gun laws and those protecting the privacy and rights of gun owners. Laws prohibiting a national database of gun transactions and requiring the destruction of background-check records were part of the 2003 Tiahrt Amendment, named after former congressman Todd Tiahrt and supported by the National Rifle Association. “We have hurt the ability of law enforcement to respond,” said Joseph Vince, a former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who is a law enforcement consultant at Crime Gun Solutions. “We have hurt ourselves.” The data deficiency has hindered law enforcement in “connecting the dots” to prevent and solve crime because “the dots have been taken off the paper,” he said.

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