SCHUMER CHALLENGES NRA: AFTER REPEATEDLY STATING “WE MUST ENFORCE THE LAWS ON THE BOOKS” WHEN IT COMES TO GUN VIOLENCE, SENATOR NOW CHALLENGES NRA TO SUPPORT PRESIDENT’S CALL FOR 200 MORE ATF AGENTS; PRESENT LAWS ARE HAMSTRUNG WITH CONTINUED CUTBACK IN ATF AGENTS
Amongst Other Crucial Duties, ATF Agents Help Enforce Gun Background Check System & Shutdown Law-Breaking Gun Dealers Who Skirt The Law; ATF Agents Keep Americans Safe & Are Now In Real Need Of New Agents To Replace Many Who Have Retired
Schumer Says President’s Order To Hire New Agents Hits The Bullseye On What NRA Says They Actually Stand For; Now NRA Must Come Clean To American People With Clear Answer
Schumer To NRA: Opposing ATF Agent Hiring Would Be Shooting Own Stance In The Foot; Help America “Enforce The Gun Laws On The Books.”
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today publicly challenged the National Rifle Association (NRA) to support President Obama’s recent call for an additional 200 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents and investigators to help enforce gun laws. ATF agents help reduce violent gun crimes by helping to enforce the gun background check system and shutdown law-breaking gun dealers who are not abiding by the law. Schumer made the case that if the NRA is really adamant about “enforcing the gun laws on the books,” the organization should be in support of Obama’s call for additional ATF agents who make sure gun laws are being properly followed. Schumer went on to say that the NRA should either announce support for additional ATF agents or explain exactly why this would be against what they stand for. Schumer said that the President’s order to hire new ATF agents actually hits the bullseye on the kinds of things the NRA says they stand for and it makes no sense for them to be against this action of the President’s order.
“The NRA has uttered the phrase, ‘enforce the gun laws on the books,’ so many times that for them to oppose the hiring of sorely needed ATF agents would be like shooting their own stance in the foot,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “If they mean what they say, then it makes no sense for the NRA to oppose additional ATF agents. These brave men and women help make sure our gun laws are being properly followed. In fact, ATF hiring, which allows us to enforce current laws, is one of the quickest, cheapest and fairest ways we can make progress on the NRA's stated policy goal. So, today, I am publicly calling the NRA out. If they really stand for enforcing the laws on the books, they should be in support of the President’s call for additional ATF agents."
On January 4th, President Obama issued new executive actions to help reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. As part of this order, President Obama announced that his FY17 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.
According to the ATF, agents focus investigations on armed violent offenders and career criminals, narco-terrorists, violent gangs, and domestic and international arms traffickers. In addition to aiding the enforcement of Federal requirements for gun purchases, compliance inspections of existing licensees focus on assisting law enforcement to identify and apprehend criminals who illegally purchase firearms. In addition, ATF’s inspections help improve the likelihood that crime gun traces will be successful, since inspectors educate licensees in proper record keeping and business practices. Compliance inspections target licensees likely to divert firearms from legitimate trade to criminal use and dealers with a history of poor compliance.
The ATF reports that during Fiscal Years 2011-2013, attrition within the agency was far greater than the number of hires. The ATF's recent flat budgets inhibited substantial hiring; additionally there has been a significant number of agents who are retiring. Schumer says this limits federal law enforcement's ability to strongly enforce existing laws. Schumer says the issue may worsen in the next four years when nearly one-third of agents will become eligible to retire. Schumer says these agents must be replaced and that continued cutbacks to staff must not occur.
Schumer today made the case that NRA leadership is hypocritical because while they have continued to say that they support enforcing gun laws on the books, they are mute on the President’s call for additional ATF agents that will help enforce these laws. Schumer pointed to a few instances where the NRA has made the case for enforcement of gun laws. Though these are just a few of those instances, the NRA has uttered the phrase of ‘enforce the laws on the books,” countless times.
· On October 27th 2015, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said (in reference to President Obama): “The untold secret in Washington is that he has all the laws he needs to stop the bloodshed now. Under the existing federal gun laws, he could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more.”
· On January 30th, 2013, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said: “In addition, we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws already on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years. Overall in 2011, federal firearms prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent from their peak in the previous administration. That means violent felons, violent gangmembers and drug dealers with guns, and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that is completely and totally unacceptable. And out of more than 76,000 firearms purchases supposedly denied by the federal instant check system, only 62 were referred for prosecution and only 44 were actually prosecuted. Proposing more gun laws while failing to enforce the thousands we already have, it’s not a serious solution for reducing crime.
· In December of 2012, on the heels of the Sandy Hook tragedy, NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre said, “…the government should vigorously enforce laws already on the books.”
Schumer’s test to the NRA challenges them to voice direct support for President Obama’s call for additional ATF agents, a move that would help enforce existing gun laws. Schumer has been a longtime leading advocate for common-sense gun legislation. Schumer authored the 1993 Brady Bill, which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to require background checks before a licensed gun dealer makes a sale. After the tragedy at Virginia Tech, Senator Schumer worked with his colleagues in Congress to pass the National Incident Criminal Background Check System Improvement Act, which improved the system through which states provided the names of people who were adjudicated mentally ill or who had committed violent crimes. Simply put, states report these names to a federal database that licensed gun dealers then check before selling a weapon. The ATF is part of the firewall the check system requires to function properly
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