[Congressional Record: April 9, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S2811]                        

                      FIREARMS INFORMATION USE ACT

  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, it is a privilege to join my colleagues 
in supporting the Firearms Information Use Act to repeal the most 
extreme provisions in the Tiahrt amendment and lift the veil of secrecy 
that currently surrounds the flow of guns in our country. The act will 
give law enforcement agencies the support they need to do their job, 
while protecting information about undercover officers, confidential 
informants, ongoing investigations, and lawful firearms purchasers. It 
is a basic open-government measure that is critical for the public 
safety of communities across America.
  The Tiahrt amendment is an appropriations rider enacted in 2003 that 
restricts public access to information gathered by the Justice 
Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It 
prevents law enforcement organizations from sharing gun trace data with 
each other and from obtaining gun trace data outside their geographic 
jurisdiction. It prohibits such information from being used as evidence 
in State license revocations, civil lawsuits, or any other 
administrative proceedings, unless specifically filed by the Bureau. It 
also prevents the Bureau from publishing reports that use gun trace 
data to analyze the flow of guns at the national level.
  Numerous mayors, law enforcement officers, and researchers have 
spoken out against these restrictions. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a 
bipartisan coalition of over 250 mayors led by Mayor Tom Menino of 
Boston and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, is staunchly 
opposed to the Tiahrt amendment, and one of the coalition's top 
priorities is to have the amendment repealed. The International 
Association of Chiefs of Police recently emphasized that we can reduce 
gun violence in our communities by making gun trace data publicly 
  In a 2006 report, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence documented 
the harmful consequences of the Tiahrt amendment. The Brady Center 
found that the amendment ``had an immediate chilling effect on the 
Bureau's activities,'' that ``academic researchers have already found 
their work stymied,'' and that the amendment has ``crippled'' efforts 
by law enforcement to investigate patterns of gun trafficking on a 
nationwide basis and to identify sources of guns used in crime. The 
report unequivocally concludes that the ``Tiahrt Amendment is a 
transparent attempt by the gun lobby . . . to shield the public, as 
well as government and law enforcement agencies, from the truth about 
guns and crime.''
  In spite of these criticisms, the amendment has been included in the 
Justice Department appropriations bill every year since 2003, and even 
more restrictive versions of it have been proposed in recent months. By 
enacting the Firearms Information Use Act, Congress can restore sanity 
to our policy on gun trace data. Scaling back the Tiahrt amendment will 
give our State and local officials the information they need to halt 
gun trafficking and the reckless dealers who facilitate it. Whatever 
one's views of the second amendment, surely we can all agree that it 
does not confer a right to sell firearms illegally. I urge all of my 
colleagues to support this legislation.