Sat Dec 22, 2012, 07:09 AM
xchrom (100,275 posts)
Why Does the NRA Fear the Truth About Gun Violence?
A week after the gun massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association is speaking out. As well it should. If only the NRA believed in the right to free speech as fervently as it believes in the right to bear arms.
Faced with government-funded research that contradicts NRA claims on gun safety, the gun lobby moved to defund the research and silence the researchers. When news reporters tried to learn which gun shops repeatedly supply violent criminals with firearms, the NRA lobbied to have gun-trace data exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. When advocates of transparency in campaign finance proposed the Disclose Act in Congress to require disclosure of top donors to political advertising campaigns, the NRA once again marched to the beat of its own 100-round drum: The organization obtained an exemption to keep its information secret.
The list goes on. The NRA-backed Tiahrt Amendment requires the Justice Department to destroy records after gun-purchase background checks, making it harder to identify and catch straw buyers who work for criminals. As part of its war on information, the gun lobby has blocked efforts to put sales records into an integrated database, making the data more difficult for law enforcement officers to retrieve and organize, and complicating efforts to analyze gun trafficking patterns. After visiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Tracing Center in West Virginia, which is the nation’s sole facility tracing guns used in crimes, Washington Post reporter James Grimaldi described the place as “something like out of the movie ‘Brazil,’ where you could literally see boxes and boxes of documents that pile up.”
You might think, as we do, that the gun lobby’s aversion to information, and its success in securing congressional support for secrecy, poses a threat to public health and law enforcement (not to mention democracy). There is surely a case to be made to that effect. Yet it’s harder to document that argument thanks to the successful suppression of information.
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