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April 27, 2013

How the NRA Deliberately Helps Criminals Behind the Public's Back--Part 1

By Martha Rosenberg

current gun crime methodology is right out of an old episode of Columbo , Baretta or Miami Vice , before desk computers, thanks to the NRA. Let's get those bad guys.


Based on the Center for American Progress Report

Blindfolded, and with One Hand Tied Behind the Back

First in a Multi-part Series

Did You Know That To Maximize Industry Sales To Criminals the NRA Made Sure These Gun Laws Were on the Books?

While the nation watched NRA-indebted politicians beat down new gun legislation this month, many are unaware of shocking, pro-criminal legislation the NRA has already pushed through. Yes, the NRA doesn't mind regulation as long as it's NRA's regulation. And despite the gun group's rants about "bad guys" and how "criminals won't follow laws," legislation that actually protects illegal gun buyers and sellers is continually passed behind the public's back.

It is hard to believe lawmakers and the gun lobby actually pass laws to prevent government agencies from catching criminals--the stated goal of both groups. But since 1979, there have been laws passed that are to keep the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from doing exactly that.

Exploiting "Must Pass" Spending Bills

The NRA's pro-criminal, anti-ATF legislation is usually tacked on to appropriation bills which are considered "must pass" and get little debate or discussion, says the Center for American Progress in a new report. Maneuvering such riders through via big spending bills is so effective, it is like the "legislation version of catching a ride on the only train out of town," admits Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's lobbying arm.   Because of such riders, when a gun is found at a crime scene, ATF officials have to wade through boxes of yellowing paperwork and microfilm and make phone call after phone call to potential dealers--because they are prevented by law from assembling a computerized gun sales database. Yes, current gun crime methodology is right out of an old episode of Columbo , Baretta or Miami Vice , before desk computers, thanks to the NRA. Let's get those bad guys.

Tiahrt Amendments: Created to Help the Gun Industry

Another appropriations rider that flew under the public radar is a Tiahrt Amendment that says the FBI may only retain records of gun buyers who pass the National Instant Criminal Background Check for 24 hours. The Amendments are named after former Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) who admits that he wrote the laws to help his cronies in the gun industry. I wanted to "make sure I was fulfilling the needs of my friends who are firearms dealers," he said. Straw buyers--people who are legally allowed to buy a firearm and funnel them to criminals--must love this law. They can work every dealer in town and their purchase records dry up after 24 hours. Whee!

Corrupt gun dealers must also love this law. Red flags denoting their straw buyer sales are destroyed in 24 hours and the first "red flag" law enforcement will likely see will be the dealers' guns at crime scenes (which could have been averted). Another Tiahrt Amendment actually prohibits using evidence of a gun dealer's link to such crime guns to revoke his license. Hey, all he did was sell lethal weapons that caused injury and death.

Helping criminals and traffickers one $ale at a time
(Image by Martha Rosenberg)
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Helping criminals and traffickers one $ale at a time by Martha Rosenberg

Following passage of the pro-criminal Tiahrt Amendments, the number of guns sold by one suspect dealer, Badger Guns & Ammo in Milwaukee, that were recovered at crime scenes increased by 203 percent, reports the Center for American Progress. Thank you, NRA.

Maximizing Industry Sales To Criminals

 It's easy to see why the NRA wants pro-criminal laws. Despite its bombast about liberty and patriotism, it is just the gun manufacturers trade group trying to sell product. Illegal sales are still sales--the criminal market represents 25 percent of all gun sales each year and the NRA does everything it can to protect this shadow market. It then doubles and triples legal sales by yelling "the criminals have guns"-- in a mendacious business plan that plays the two sides against each other.

 What is harder to understand is why elected officials would allow gun manufacturers to play such a lucrative and deadly game at their constituents' expense. Would they allow similar laws prohibiting safety data and regulation in the automobile, food or health care industries? END

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Submitters Bio:

Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random House. Rosenberg has appeared on CSPAN and NPR and lectured at medical schools and at the Mid-Manhattan Public Library.