American Bar Association
Commission on Domestic Violence
Special Committee on Gun Violence
Young Lawyers Division
Criminal Justice Section
Adopted by the House of Delegates
August 9-10, 2004
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association supports stronger federal, state, local and territorial efforts to implement and enforce existing gun laws at all levels of government.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Congress and the Administration to support full implementation and enforcement of existing federal gun laws by:
1. providing adequate federal investigative and prosecutorial resources targeted not only to prosecuting crimes committed with guns, but also for other rarely prosecuted major federal gun crimes including illegal gun trafficking, illegal sales by firearm dealers, illegal sales to minors, stolen firearms offenses and false statements made by prospective buyers with respect to eligibility to purchase firearms;
2. fully implementing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) through federal interagency cooperation regarding making records available to NICS; through federal funding to assist states, territories and Indian Tribal governments in establishing or upgrading technology for determining firearm purchaser eligibility; and through grants to states to improve the automation and transmittal to Federal and State record repositories of felony criminal history dispositions, records relevant to determining whether a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, court orders, and mental health adjudications or commitments; and
3. enacting legislation to require retention of gun sales background check records for 90 days and to authorize sharing of federal data regarding the point of sale of guns traced to crime with state and other law enforcement entities.
This report and its recommendations support legislation and administrative action to more fully implement and enforce critical federal laws already “on the books” and to repeal a recently adopted federal amendment that unreasonably restricts short-term retention and auditing of firearms purchaser background check records.
More federal prosecutorial and investigative resources are needed to be devoted to enforcement of laws dealing with illegal trafficking in firearms, corrupt dealer practices, and illegal sales to minors, among other now rarely prosecuted federal crimes. Through legislative action and administrative steps, the National Instant Check System (NICS) should be fully implemented within a period of the next several years by requiring federal agencies and departments to submit relevant data they administer regarding persons disqualified to the Attorney General for NICS, by supporting state efforts to automate background records of persons prohibited under existing law from possessing or purchasing firearms, including felony, domestic violence misdemeanor offenses, and mental health-related adjudications. Last, a recently enacted legislative amendment that requires destruction of NICS background records within 24 hours and that would preclude sharing of NICS records and crime trace data with state and local police, which was the longtime practice until adoption of an amendment in January 2004, should be repealed These modest steps would help to bring about a significantly more reliable background check system to prevent sales of firearms to persons disqualified under current federal law from possessing or purchasing firearms and would focus federal enforcement resources more carefully on illegal trafficking in firearms in addition to common crimes involving possession of firearms while in commission of crime.
Over a period of decades the ABA House of Delegates has considered and approved a range of policy recommendations aimed at preventing and reducing gun violence, including those couched in criminal law, in non-criminal regulatory policy, tort law and in public education and public health strategies. Several recommendations adopted by the House have direct relevancy to these proposed recommendations.
The ABA House of Delegates first addressed regulation of firearms in 1965, following the recommendations of a task force created in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Among its principal recommendations was a system of regulating sales of guns through licensing of dealers, prohibiting sales to felons, fugitives, persons under indictment, adjudicated mental incompetents and minors. The ABA was one of the leaders among national organizations in advocating for federal reforms in what became the 1968 Gun Control Act. In 1975, the House of Delegates approved a comprehensive set of recommendations, supporting amendments to federal law to, among other things, require background checks of prospective purchasers of firearms to prevent sales to persons prohibited from purchase, in order to provide an enforcement mechanism for the 1968 Gun Control Act prohibitions. The 1975 recommendation also put the ABA on record supporting severe, but not mandatory, penalties for offenses involving firearms. In 1994, the House of Delegates approved another comprehensive recommendation regarding a range of steps to prevent and reduce gun violence. It included two provisions related to the current submission: (1) to expand the list of persons disqualified under the 1968 Gun Control Act to include persons convicted of violent misdemeanors, spousal abuse or subject to a protective order, and (2) to require federally licensed firearm dealers to cooperate with criminal investigations and to report all gun thefts to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and to local police. The background report noted that the agency charged with the most critical federal role in enforcing the 1968 Act, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, had been chronically denied the personnel and financial resources over a period of decades to adequately perform this role.
Summary of Federal Law
The National Firearms Act of 1934 was the first significant federal gun control legislation enacted in the United States. It was passed largely in response to the misuse of firearms associated with organized crime, and, as a result, focused on a few specific firearms such as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns, requiring these guns to be registered and imposing a transfer tax on their sale.
In 1968 Congress passed what remains today the primary federal gun control law and most subsequent federal gun laws have been enacted as amendments to it. The Gun Control Act of 1968, 922 U.S.C. §922 et seq, established a comprehensive scheme regulating the manufacture, sale, transfer and possession of firearms and ammunition. It invested the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) with authority relating to the possession, sale and transfer of firearms to and from individuals. It requires firearm dealers and manufacturers to be licensed, delineates nine classes of individuals who are prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms in interstate commerce and limits the importation of guns deemed not suitable for sporting purposes.
In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which amended the 1968 Gun Control Act to forbid the federal government from establishing a national firearm registration system, and to limit the ability of ATF to inspect the premises of licensed gun dealers. It also contained a provision that severely restricts the possession or transfer of fully automatic machine guns not lawfully owned before its effective date in 1986.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was enacted in 1993, providing for a 5-day waiting period for background checks for handgun purchases until November 1998, when its waiting period was replaced by a national instant check system. In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was enacted. Included in the massive Act were provisions limiting the purchase or possession of handguns or ammunition suitable only for handguns by persons under the age of 18, regardless of the source of sale or transfer. The 1994 Act also included the ABA-supported provision to ban from the civilian market the manufacture, sale or possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons, and a related provision to ban new manufacture of large capacity feeding devices capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. It contained a third ABA-supported provision, the Protective Order Gun Ban, amending the 1968 Act to add persons “subject to a court order restraining them from domestic violence” to the categories of persons prohibited under the Act from purchasing or possessing firearms.
In 1996, Congress passed an amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act adding a category of prohibited purchasers or possessors of firearms for persons convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”
In 1999, Congress considered several amendments to the 1968 Act shortly after the horrific school shootings in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999. Amendments to close a loophole in the 1968 Act which permits sales of firearms at gun shows without the performance of a background check, to require child safety locks, and to prohibit the importation of high capacity feeding devices passed the Senate, but a House bill was defeated and the legislation stalled.
Since the mid-1990’s – and particularly since the 1999 post-Littleton debate – the notion of “enforcing the gun laws on the books” has dominated the national debate over how to address the nation’s disproportionately high rates of gun crimes and homicides.
Federal Priorities in Prosecuting Gun Crimes.
Both the Clinton and Bush Administrations have emphasized tougher enforcement of federal gun laws as priorities for addressing gun violence. In 1999, President Clinton issued a directive to the Departments of Justice and Treasury, ordering them to commit more resources to investigating and prosecuting firearms violations. Presidential candidate George W. Bush criticized the Clinton Administration for failing to enforce the law. In May 2001 President Bush unveiled his “Project Safe Neighborhoods” initiative to invest $901 million in increased enforcement efforts and pledged that his Administration would enforce the gun laws that exist on the books.
A study released in May 2003 conducted by the non-profit Americans for Gun Safety (AGS) studying data from the U.S. Department of Justice obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, found that during both the Clinton and Bush Administrations only modest gains were achieved in federal gun crime prosecutions, despite increased federal funding. The AGS study found a vast enforcement gap between the level of federal gun crimes and the number of federal prosecutions. Over the years 2000-2002, prosecutors filed 25,002 federal gun crime cases. During the same period, more than 330,000 guns used in violent crime showed indications of black market trafficking; more than 420,000 guns were stolen; 450,000 individuals lied on the federal background check form used to determine eligibility to purchase a gun; 93,000 gun crimes were committed by persons under the age of 18; and thousands of guns with obliterated serial numbers were recovered by law enforcement. With over a million crimes where it is likely a federal crime was committed over the three- year period, the 25,002 prosecutions represent a ratio of about 2 federal prosecutions for every 100 federal gun crimes.
The AGS study found further that increases in federal prosecutions focused almost exclusively on the two most common areas of gun crime, while twenty of twenty-two major federal gun statutes went virtually unenforced. Of 25,002 federal firearms cases over three years, 85% of the prosecutions were for violations of just two federal statutes: the illegal possession of a firearm by a felon or other prohibited buyer, and the possession of a firearm while in the commission of a violent or drug-related federal crime. Only two percent of prosecutions were for crimes associated with illegal gun trafficking and less than one percent were for illegal sales of guns to minors. The AGS study noted that the narrow focus of prosecutions by both the Clinton and Bush Administrations on the two statutes was a significant concern in that both illegal possession by felons and commission of crimes while in possession of a gun are almost always prosecuted at the local level, under state laws. Interstate gun trafficking offenses, corrupt gun dealers offenses, lying on the background check form and obliterated serial numbers each require prosecution under the purview of federal authorities but are rarely being prosecuted. The paucity of prosecutions of these crimes means that the federal government is doing little to break up the vast black market of illegal firearms. AGS found that the Bush Administration had made little or no progress in closing the enforcement gap for twenty of the twenty-two major federal gun laws.
The rise of crime gun tracing (tracing guns used in crime to an original point of sale), through the creation and rapid expansion of the federal Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative and related state crime gun tracing efforts, in the 1990’s created new methods of identifying the sources of firearms to criminals and made clear the size of the problem of the national black market in firearms. A November 2000 report issued by ATF, Crime Gun Trace Reports (1999), found that illegal diversion of guns to a criminal market through multiple sales, straw purchasers and corrupt practices by some gun dealers, is a significant aspect of gun crime nationwide. Guns less than three years old were involved in about a third of all crime gun traces, and the median age for all traced crime guns was 5.7 years. Twenty-two percent of handguns used in crime were traced to multiple sales. Handguns with obliterated serial numbers were found 2.3 times more likely that those without obliterated serial numbers to have been acquired in multiple sales. Crime gun tracing data makes clear that illegal trafficking supplies between a quarter to a third of guns used in crime in our nation. Our enforcement priorities, strategies and resources should reflect this reality.
Implementation of the National Instant Check System.
Under the 1968 Gun Control Act, individuals are prohibited from possessing a firearm if he or she:
(a) is under indictment or has been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year;
(b) is a fugitive from justice;
(c) is an unlawful user or an addict of any controlled substance;
(d) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
(e) is subject to a court order restraining them from domestic violence;
(f) has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor;
(g) has been dishonorably discharged from the military;
(h) is an illegal alien; or
(i) renounced U.S. Citizenship.
There was no federal enforcement mechanism to check backgrounds prior to the sale of firearms until the enactment of the Brady Act in 1993, with its provision for an instant check system becoming effective in 1998. Approximately 632,000 individuals were prohibited from purchasing a firearm for failing a background check between November 30, 1998 (the date the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) began operating) and August 31, 2003. From November 30, 1998, through August 31, 2003, over 41,000,000 Brady background checks were processed through NICS.
While most Brady background checks are processed through NICS in seconds, many are delayed because the FBI does not have automated access to complete information from the States concerning persons prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under state or federal law. Approximately 23,000,000 criminal records are either not automated or not accessible by NICS and another 15,000,000 criminal records that are automated and accessible are missing critical data, such as arrest dispositions.
The primary obstacle to achieving a reliable NICS system is the failure to-date of states to computerize information relating to criminal history, criminal disposition, mental illness, restraining orders, and misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence. Twenty states have failed to automate all of their felony criminal conviction records. Only about 45 percent of the criminal history records in the Interstate Identification Index, maintained by the FBI and used by the NICS, have disposition information included.
A 2002 study by the Americans for Gun Safety, Broken Records: How America’s Faulty Background Check System Allows Criminal to Get Guns, found that while the NICS system worked efficiently with the data it has been supplied by the states, that data represents only about 60 percent of the criminal records which should be part of the NICS system. Most states have done a haphazard and ineffective job of automating criminal and other records. This means that the NICS check will not reliably stop convicted criminals, batterers or those under court orders from getting firearms through ordinary, everyday purchases. States need to dramatically improve and automate the records necessary to prevent convicted felons, batterer and other disqualified purchasers from obtaining firearms.
Forty states do not automate or make accessible disqualifying mental health records to NICS. Only ten states have provided such data to NICS. Of these, eight have provided only a small fraction of full potential records, one state has provided a moderate number and only one state has provided close to complete records. The General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that background check information is lacking from as many as 2.6 million individuals involuntarily hospitalized throughout the United States (GAO Report: Gun Control: Options for Improving the National Instant Check System, March 2000). The entire NICS system contains only around 90,000 records of those disqualified under the mental health provision of the law. The result is that, at present, it is almost impossible to prevent a mentally unstable person from purchasing a firearm.
Eight states and four territories do not automate or make accessible domestic violence restraining orders to NICS. Fourteen states do not automate or make accessible domestic violence misdemeanor convictions records to NICS.
Legislation has been introduced in the 108th Congress that would provide funding and other incentives to states to quickly address most of the NICS problem areas. Identical bills known as the NICS Improvement Act were introduced on October 2, 2003, in the House as H.R.3237 by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and in the Senate as S.1706 by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).
The NICS Improvement Act would direct federal departments and agencies, including specifically the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to cooperate in providing relevant records regarding persons within one of the categories described in subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code (disqualified from possessing or purchasing a firearm), on a quarterly basis to the Attorney General for inclusion in the NICS. All departments, including DHS, would be required to supply relevant data records they administer and regularly purge such records of out-of-date and incorrect data.
The proposed act would provide substantial federal funding for states, with up to five percent reserved for Indian tribal governments, to upgrade technology and complete automation of ninety percent of all its relevant records within three years related to felony offenses, misdemeanor domestic violence offenses, active court orders and court records related to those adjudicated mentally incompetent or subject to involuntary hospitalization. States that do not meet these goal could obtain waivers for an additional two years, but after this period of time, states would face a financial penalty: the loss of a portion of funding for National Criminal History Improvement Grants under the Crime Identification Technology Act of 1988 (42 U.S.C. 14601).
The NICS Improvement Act would push states to make progress on the chronically unfulfilled 1968 Gun Control Act prohibition on sale to and possession by persons who have been adjudicated mentally incompetent or are subject to an order requiring involuntary hospitalization. It would provide states new incentives to automate such disposition data. The mental health disposition data would receive new privacy protections. The proposed act directs the Attorney General to work with states and local law enforcement and the mental health community to establish regulations and protocols for protecting the privacy of information provided to the system. It should be noted that the data provided to the NICS system related to mental health disposition records is the equivalent of a checked “yes” or “no” box as to the existence of the disqualifying status. No other information is provided to the system. Some privacy advocates have been concerned that more information is at issue and that mental health “treatment records” might be involved, but this is not the case. If a background check results in a denial, and an individual appeals the denial, then confirmation of the dispositional orders contained in court records will typically be required beyond what is contained in the NICS automated data base.
Automation of records related to misdemeanor domestic violence offenses has to overcome the obstacle posed by differences in terms and language used by various states and their courts for domestic violence offense, among other problems. The NICS Improvement Act would direct the states to include in misdemeanor domestic violence conviction records information specifically describing the offense and the specific section or subsection of the offense for which the defendant has been convicted and the relationship of the defendant to the victim in each case. It would similarly direct states to provide sufficient information regarding restraining or protection orders to determine if they are “final” and therefore disqualify the subject from possessing or purchasing a firearm.
The impact of reliable records in this area would be significant. Annually, an estimated 1,131,999 victims of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking obtain protective orders against their attackers. Approximately 60 percent (646,809) of these orders areMore than 600 women are murdered and thousands more injured or menaced each year by domestic abusers with A gun in a home with previous domestic violence assaults increases the risk of murder to the survivor by 20 Nearly one- third of all women murdered in the United States in 2000 were killed by their current or former intimate partners, and guns were used in almost two-thirds of those The achievement of reliable and substantially complete automated records of persons subject to final protective orders and of persons convicted of domestic violence misdemeanor offenses would prevent sales of firearms to thousands of prohibited persons and convicted batterers and save many lives.
The Attorney General would be required to report annually to Congress on the status of the NICS system and regarding progress on these specific problem areas with state records.
This NICS Improvement Act legislation has been endorsed by a wide range of organizations including those at opposite ends of the political spectrum on gun issues, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Rifle Association. It likewise has the support of leading advocates for gun control as well as leaders supporting gun rights in Congress. But it has not moved forward to approval in either chamber and is unlikely to do so without leadership from the President and his Administration. By adopting this recommendation, the ABA can add its voice to support this moderate, achievable step to more fully implement current law, and specifically to help achieve a reliable background check that will stop those for whom it is currently illegal from purchasing firearms.
NICS Record Retention and Use in Investigating Gun Trafficking Crimes
In 2001, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft proposed a new policy requiring that Brady background records on gun sales, then maintained for 90 days, be destroyed within 24 hours. He did so despite a federal appeals court ruling that it is legal for the department to maintain those records of six months in order to audit the background check system. The Attorney General’s recommendation cited “privacy interests” of gun buyers, but ignored a recommendation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the retention period be extended to one year, and a report issued by the General Accounting Office concluding that a 24-hour policy would prevent investigation of most illegal trafficking crimes. An amendment to enact the Ashcroft proposal, among other changes to policy related to use and retention of background check information, was added to a House appropriations bill in 2003 and then tacked-on to a broad federal funding bill that was signed into law on January 23, 2004, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L.108- 199). Known as the Tiahrt Amendment, after its House sponsor, Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), the new policy as enacted into law requires destruction of background check data within 24 hours and restricts the use and collection of gun records used commonly by law enforcement authorities to investigate illegal gun trafficking.
Since its enactment in 1993, the Brady Act has prevented more than one million prohibited purchasers from obtaining guns. Under previous policies, records were kept by the F.B.I for a period of months before destruction to ensure proper auditing of the National Instant Check System (NICS) and to ensure that if any criminals, terrorists or other prohibited purchasers were incorrectly allowed to purchase guns, the mistakes could be corrected.
As enacted into law earlier this year, the provision blocks the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from requiring gun dealers to take regular inventories of their firearms and would work to shield corrupt gun dealers from public scrutiny by preventing release of crime gun traces and multiple sale data. Requiring that these records be destroyed within 24 hours, as mandated in the legislative rider attached to the omnibus appropriations bill, now effectively prevents DOJ scrutiny of NICS errors and allows more criminals and other prohibited purchasers to obtain guns.
The snipers who terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in the fall of 2002 obtained the assault rifle used in their attacks from a Tacoma, Washington gun store that later claimed to have no record of selling the gun and was one of more than 238 firearms “missing” from its inventory in the previous three years. Large missing inventories representing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in value are usually warning signs to law enforcement authorities of corrupt sales practices, for the overwhelming majority of legitimate gun dealers maintain regular business records and carefully monitor their sales and inventory.
In August 2000, ATF issued a proposed rule to require licensed dealers to perform annual physical inventories. The rationale for the proposed rule was spelled out succinctly in an ATF report, Commerce in Firearms in the United States, at page 28:
“..records of ATF inspections confirm that inventory errors [at federally licensed firearms dealers] are occurring at a high rate… Errors in inventory records are a serious problem because a firearm missing from inventory cannot be traced.”
The amendment passed in January 2004 also contains language that blocks the proposed ATF rule regarding annual dealer and further restricts scrutiny of gun dealer practiced tied to crime by prohibiting ATF from releasing trace or multiple sale data to the public or even to fellow law enforcement agencies in the states or localities. ATF indicated in its 2000 Report that its analysis of crime gun traces and multiple sales reports has yielded a series of “gun trafficking indicators” that most often are found linked to particular corrupt firearm dealers, including: multiple crime guns traced to an FFL (federal firearms licensee) or first retail purchaser; significant or frequently reported firearms thefts or losses by an FFL; frequent multiple sales of handguns by an FFL or multiple purchases of firearms by a non-licensee, combined with crime gun traces; short time-to-crime for crime guns traced to an FFL or first time retail purchaser; and incomplete trace results, due to an unresponsive FFL or other causes.
The national law enforcement community, including, most notably, representatives of professionals most directly involved in fighting illegal gun trafficking, opposed these changes in law. The FBI Agents Association, representing 9,000 current and over 2,000 retired FBI agents nationwide, took the rare step of publicly opposing the amendment, maintaining that 90-day retention period for data related to firearms sales and approval. The FBI Agents Association noted in a letter published in the Congressional Record opposing the provision to require the destruction of background records checks 24 hours after a gun purchase: “The more the retention period is reduced, the more difficult it would become to use the paperwork to investigate or prosecute crimes related to the use of sales of the firearms in question. Any such efforts can only complicate the already difficult task of law enforcement and jeopardize public safety.”
The FBI Agents Association further maintained that the then current 90-day period “strikes the proper balance between civil liberties and crime control,” noting that no privacy problems of any kind had arisen under the 90-day retention rule, to their knowledge.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) also opposed the amendment requiring destruction of Brady background check records within 24 hours. In a letter originally submitted to the FBI published in the Congressional Record on December 9, 2003, the IACP noted that in March 1999, the Department of Justice issued a proposed rule to shorten the retention period from 180 to 90 days. They concluded that 90 days was the “shortest practicable period of time for retaining records of allowed transfers that would permit the performance of basic security audits” of the NIC system. The FBI had stated that it require at least 90 days to audit the record in order to assure the accuracy and legitimacy of background checks performed by FFLs. The audits allow the FBI to search for patterns of fraud and abuse by both gun dealers and purchasers. The audits are used by the FBI to identify instances in which the NICS system is used for unauthorized purchases such as gun dealers having background checks on persons other than gun buyers and to determine if gun buyers used false identification in order to thwart the background check system. To run those audits, the FBI needs both approved and denied purchases.
A 2002 study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) concluded that 97 percent (228 out of 235) of studied firearms-retrievals initiated for wrongly approved sales under the 90-day retention policy could not have been initiated under the proposed next-day destruction policy. The GAO study further reached the obvious conclusion that next-day record destruction policy does not serve public safety interests.
The Tiahrt Amendment provisions enacted as a “legislative rider” to the omnibus appropriations Act this January will hamstring the ability of federal, state and local law enforcement to investigate many types of gun crimes without serving a demonstrably compelling competing interest. The assertion of privacy interest concerns is purely rhetorical and serves a narrow political interest rather than the public interest. The rationale for records retention and its use in investigating a range of serious crimes is on the other hand clear and compelling. The Tiahrt Amendment should be repealed, appropriate hearing and due legislative process, as soon as possible
Enforcing the laws on the books: Rhetoric versus reality
A rare area of common ground between intractable political foes on firearms issues has been found in recent years on the goal of full implementation and enforcement of federal gun laws. This is a salutary development and should be supported by the Association, among others. But action by policy makers in Congress must match words for these goals to be accomplished. In the current Congress, legislation to reauthorize the ABA- supported, 1994-enacted ban on assault weapons is languishing as the September 2004 expiration date for the ban approaches. Many of the same elected officials who extol the virtues of enforcing the “laws on the books” have voiced support for reauthorizing the ban but will do nothing to support needed action by Congress, despite their pledges to do so. If it expires as is now likely, “killing machine” guns like the Tech-9 assault pistol, Uzi and AK-47 knockoffs will be legally sold, and within a short time make their way back into the national black market of firearms into the hands of youth gangs and criminals. The ABA is on record urging Congress and the Administration to reauthorize this law on the books. In the areas addressed by this recommendation – federal gun crime prosecution initiatives, implementation of the National Instant Check System, and policy regarding retention of gun sale records useful in combating gun trafficking – stronger leadership is needed now in Congress and in the Executive Branch to help us move toward matching enforcement rhetoric to reality, to prevent and reduce gun violence, and to save lives.
William S. Harwood, Chair
Special Committee on Gun Violence
Laura Stein, Chair
Commission on Domestic Violence August 2004