Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sensible gun control

An immediate, common-sense, and effective step that we could take to stem gun violence is to simply let the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) do its job.

The Washington Post reports
Amid an intense debate over gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Connecticut, the federal agency at the heart of firearms regulation in America is so beleaguered and under-resourced that it has not had a confirmed director in six years.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a division of the Justice Department, is supposed to regulate the nation’s gun industry. But many within ATF say it is the industry that dominates the agency.

The gun lobby, concerned about government regulation of firearms ownership, has taken steps to limit the resources available to ATF and to prevent the agency from having a strong leader, according to former and current ATF officials.

For decades, the National Rifle Association has lobbied successfully to block all attempts to computerize records of gun sales, arguing against any kind of national registry of firearms ownership. And despite the growth of the gun industry and the nation’s population, ATF has fewer agents today than it did nearly four decades ago: fewer than 2,500.
A capable and qualified nominee to head the ATF has languished for two years. It's long past time for the gun lobby's accomplices in the Senate to allow this nomination to come to a vote.