Congressional Record: March 27, 2006 (Senate)
Page S2422-S2423                      


      By Mr. MENENDEZ:
  S. 2460. A bill to permit access to certain information in the 
Firearms Trace System database; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, today, I am introducing new legislation 
to address the critical issue of access to information about guns 
traced to crimes. This bill would repeal restrictions on the release of 
crime gun trace data from the Federal Government to State and local 
  It goes without saying that the more we understand a problem and its

[[Page S2423]]

sources, the more proficient we will be in our attempt to create a 
solution that works. That is especially true when talking about guns 
that are used to commit crimes. One study has shown that 1.2 percent of 
gun dealers sell 57 percent of guns later traced to criminal 
  The State that I have the honor of representing in the Senate, New 
Jersey, has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet 
hundreds, if not thousands, of off-limit customers, such as those under 
age or those who do not have a license, wind up with such weapons each 
month. And the overwhelming majority of guns used to commit crimes in 
our State's cities were originally sold in compliance with the law in 
other States.
  In fact, a large majority of the guns used to commit crimes in Jersey 
City, Newark, and Camden traveled up the East Coast along I-95, which 
has been called the ``Iron Pipeline.'' This is truly a paradox that has 
not only frustrated law enforcement agents, but elected officials too.
  That is why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives's 
Crime Gun Trace Reports (CGTRs) were created to provide information to 
three different audiences: Federal, State, and local law enforcement 
agencies; federal Firearm Licensees (FFL); and the public, Congress, 
and State and local authorities.
  According to the reports released in July 2002, 85 percent of the 
traced guns used to commit crimes in Jersey City and Newark, and 77 
percent of those used in Camden, were originally purchased outside of 
New Jersey. And more than 67 percent of crime guns recovered in Jersey 
City were originally purchased more than 250 miles away.
  This is exactly the type of information that assists law enforcement 
officials in placing local crime guns in a regional and national 
strategic enforcement context and would allow Federal, State, and local 
elected officials to develop national, regional, and local strategic 
responses to gun crime.
  Unfortunately, every year for the past few years Republicans in the 
House have slipped a provision into law to prohibit the release of this 
information to anyone other than ``. . . a Federal, State, or local law 
enforcement agency or a prosecutor solely in a criminal investigation 
or prosecution.'' This amendment effectively prohibits information from 
reaching Congress, and State and local authorities, and the public.
  This even limits how Federal, State and local law enforcement 
agencies can use these Crime Gun Trace Reports. It only allows law 
enforcement agencies to use these reports to investigate a crime that 
has already been committed.
  So, it only allows law enforcement officials to retroactively punish 
crime, rather than proactively preventing it from happening in the 
first place.
  That is why I am introducing legislation to make this gun crime data 
public again. It will not only help law enforcement prosecute gun 
crimes, but will also increase public awareness about where these guns 
  Until now, the restrictions have been imposed through the annual 
appropriations process, which means they end at the end of each fiscal 
year, or September 30. However, the House Judiciary Committee will hold 
a hearing tomorrow on legislation that would write these restrictions 
into law permanently.
  Why is this information being concealed from the American people? It 
certainly contains no classified or sensitive national security 
material. The taxpayers have paid for information to be collected and 
the reports to be prepared, so why do they not deserve access to the 
information? And why is it illegal for Federal, State and local 
policymakers and law enforcement officials to use these reports in the 
way they were envisioned: to better understand and combat the scourge 
of gun violence that plagues our cities?
  Denying police access to this information about crime gun traces 
helps no one but the bad guys. Our families' safety should never take a 
backseat to the demands of radical interest groups seeking only to 
further their own narrow agenda. Congress needs to pass my 
legislation--instead we need to stand up for our families. I urge my 
colleagues to join me in this important effort.
  I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the 
  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                S. 2460

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       (a) In General.--The Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and 
     Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (Public Law 109-
     108; 119 Stat. 2295) is amended in title I, under the heading 
     ``Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives'', by 
     striking ``Provided further, That no funds appropriated under 
     this or any other Act with respect to any fiscal year may be 
     used to disclose part or all of the contents of the Firearms 
     Trace System database'' and all that follows through 
     ``section 921(a)(10) of such title):''.
       (b) Access to Information.--The Attorney General shall 
     provide public access to the Crime Gun Trace Report (both 
     nationally and for individual cities) from the Youth Crime 
     Gun Interdiction Initiative, which is generated using 
     information in the Firearms Trace System database maintained 
     by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.