WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Law enforcement officials today joined with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to denounce the National Rifle Association's (NRA) campaign to weaken enforcement of federal gun laws. The NRA's attacks on federal law enforcement are profiled in a new Brady Center report, "The NRA: A Criminal's Best Friend," which chronicles decades of NRA assaults on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that have greatly aided criminals seeking to obtain illegal firearms.
Chief Richard Pennington of Atlanta; Commissioner Sylvester Johnson of Philadelphia; Chief Gil Kerlikowski of Seattle; Police Foundation President Hubert Williams; and Jesse Lee, executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives told a National Press Club gathering in Washington that police efforts to crack down on illegal gun trafficking were being directly and sharply undermined by the gun lobby's agenda.
"What the gun lobby is doing in Washington is making it harder for me to do my job in Atlanta," Pennington said. "Instead of handcuffing law enforcement, we should put political handcuffs on the NRA's lobbyists."
"If you look at what has been attempted and done to weaken common-sense measures to prevent gun violence, particularly over the past six years, it is obvious that the gun pushers have way too much influence over federal law enforcement policy," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center. "As a newcomer to Washington, D.C., I'm particularly surprised at how little respect has been given to the concerns of the law enforcement community."
The report exposes the hypocrisy of the NR's refrain that there is no need to "pass new gun laws," just to "enforce our existing laws." "The NRA: A Criminal's Best Friend" shows how the NRA has fought to hamstring and intimidate federal law enforcement. NRA allies in Congress have required ATF to meet extraordinary burdens of proof to prosecute gun traffickers and revoke lawbreaking gun dealers' licenses, imposed severe restrictions on ATF inspectors, and allowed largely unregulated gun show sales to flourish.
The report reveals the NRA's aggressive campaign to undermine the landmark Brady background check law, from its unsuccessful lawsuits to strike down the law to its success under President Bush in mandating the destruction of crucial Brady background check records needed to prevent criminals from buying firearms. It chronicles the NRA's lambasting of federal ATF agents as "fascists" and "street thugs" who "murder law-abiding citizens," as well as the NRA's recent charges of ATF "abuses" in retaliation for successful ATF gun show stings in Richmond, Va., that disrupted widespread gun trafficking at the gun shows.
This year the NRA has intensified its anti-federal law enforcement efforts. It is supporting a package of legislation to make it virtually impossible to revoke the licenses of lawbreaking gun dealers (H.R. 5092), to prohibit the government from revealing the identities of rogue dealers to the public (H.R. 5005), and to repeal the longstanding prohibition on interstate sales of handguns at gun shows (H.R. 1384). The legislation was introduced shortly after NRA Board Member Sandy Abrams had his Baltimore gun shop's license revoked this year for 900 violations of federal gun laws. H.R. 5092 passed the House of Representatives last month despite law enforcement opposition and may come before the Senate in a lame-duck session next month.
"This report reveals the NRA's true colors as the criminal's best friend," said Daniel R. Vice, Brady Center staff attorney. "The NRA's tireless efforts to undermine enforcement of our gun laws has helped criminals and gun traffickers obtain illegal firearms and fueled the recent surge in gun violence."
"The NRA: A Criminal's Best Friend" is the latest in a series of Brady Center reports exposing the role of the gun industry and the gun lobby in aiding criminal access to firearms. All of the reports can be accessed at http://www.bradycenter.org/gunindustrywatch. Gun Industry Watch is a comprehensive research effort of the Brady Center to monitor the gun industry and expose industry practices that endanger innocent lives.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is a national non- profit organization working to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in America, through education, research and legal advocacy. The programs of the Brady Center complement the legislative and grassroots mobilization of its sister organization, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its network of Million Mom March Chapters.
Contact: Peter Hamm of Brady Center, 202-898-0792
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