Get A Grip: Group seeks passage of bill to track guns used in crimes
A press release submitted to the Miner on Thursday revealed some interesting information about gun tracing and about a bill currently under consideration by the Arizona Legislature.
According to information from Americans for Gun Safety, a Washington, D.C.-based gun rights organization, Arizona is a leading source of guns used in crimes.
According to AGS, working in conjunction with Citizens of Arizona to Prevent Gun Violence, there is a thriving illegal black market in guns operating in Arizona.
Of the more than 6,000 guns traced to crimes committed in Arizona in 2000, about 4,600 (75 percent) were originally obtained in the state.
Plus, AGS data shows that Arizona is the nation's twelfth largest supplier of crime guns to out-of-state criminals.
What AGS wants to do is pass legislation requiring law enforcement officials to track all guns used in crimes.
According to CAP Gun Violence Executive Director Gerry Anderson, the bill would do two things.
First it would aid police in solving crimes.
Second, it would provide information that federal law enforcement officials can use to create crime gun-source maps.
The maps can pinpoint areas where a high volume of guns are used in crimes.
The maps, when passed on to local law enforcement, can provide valuable data in controlling crime and illegal gun sales.
Some agencies already trace all guns used in crimes.
But spotty tracing results in spotty information.
If all agencies traced crime guns, a much clearer picture of crime patterns would emerge.
Solving crimes, protecting the public, these don't sound like issues anyone could oppose.
But the National Rifle Association is doing just that.
The NRA is pressuring lawmakers to reject the bill.
Why? Because they say it is a threat to gun rights.
Do they mean the gun rights of criminals? They don't specify.
But they must because the bill has absolutely nothing to do with private gun ownership by non-criminals.
In a "Special alert to Arizona NRA members" posted on the NRA website, the organization claims that tracing crime guns will lead to the licensing and registration of all guns.
That's quite a leap, even for the NRA.
CAP Gun Violence has backing from Arizona law enforcement organizations that are looking for help in stemming the tide of gun trafficking in our state.
These groups recognize that gun tracing would help solve and prevent crime while doing nothing to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.
The AGS data into gun trafficking is based on the limited number of crime gun traces that are currently performed.
It shows that three quarters of Arizona criminals used guns that originated here (that is, the first sale of the gun by a licensed dealer occurred in this state), which is well above the national average.
Data shows that a typical state is the source of about 65 percent of guns used in local crime.
Moreover, in a single year, more than 1,000 guns originally bought in Arizona were recovered in crimes committed in other states, making it the source of more gun trafficking than New York, Nevada and New Mexico combined.
The trace data obtained from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shows that in 2000, Texas, California and Illinois were the leading recipients of Arizona crime guns.
"When so many local crime guns are obtained in-state, and so many out-of-state crimes are committed with Arizona guns, it is a red flag warning that Arizona is a gun trafficking haven," said AGS Policy Director Jim Kessler.
"The purpose of more crime gun tracing is to unlock the underground world of illegal black market guns and make arrests."
The Arizona Police Association, in a letter to lawmakers, writes, "for all the positive things that this bill did to actively seek out the illegal gun trafficker, we were equally supportive of it because it had no adverse impact on the legal gun owner."
The association also, in its letter, pointed out that in Tucson, one of the few areas where all crime guns are traced, just two gun stores were found to have been the source of 790 weapons used in crimes between 1996 and 1988.
The association writes, "If these statistics were developed through the current haphazard and non-mandatory method of gun tracing, just imagine what could be learned and accomplished if a cohesive and coordinated method of gun tracing could be developed."
HB2329 cleared the Senate Rules Committee yesterday and is scheduled for a floor vote next week.
Here's hoping our legislators can see around the twisted logic and strong-arm methods of the NRA and vote in favor of a good bill.