Language tucked away in the voluminous stopgap spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the year clashes with the Obama administration's efforts to trace guns used in crimes in the wake of the December shooting rampage in Connecticut, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado said that the House hasn't even begun to debate gun safety after last year's Newtown, Conn., school shootings, and is now passing bills that would block the funding for serious analyses on gun violence.
The bill, a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year, specifies in a legislative rider that gun-tracing data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crime," language long supported by the gun-rights lobby.
"In this bill there is substantive legislation, which I believe is out of order in an appropriations bill, which deals with tracing guns used in crimes, and the prohibition to use any information that might be gained from guns used in crimes, in any kind of study to figure out where these are coming from," Mr. Perlmutter said.
The language, which continues a provision already in the law, outlines specifically that law enforcement agencies can request firearm traces, but states that "not all firearms used in crime are traced and not all firearms traced are used in crime." The firearms selected also "should not be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals, or any subset of that universe."
President Obama, in a presidential memorandum issued in January, wrote that the systematic tracing and analysis of guns are crucial elements in combating gun violence, writing that firearms tracing is particularly valuable in investigating firearms trafficking networks.
"If federal law enforcement agencies do not conscientiously trace every firearm taken into custody, they may not only be depriving themselves of critical information in specific cases, but may also be depriving all federal, state, and local agencies of the value of complete information for aggregate analyses," Mr. Obama's memorandum read.
Mr. Obama's memo directed federal law enforcement agencies to trace weapons recovered during the course of a criminal investigation "at the earliest time practicable."
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