Treasury Makes Case for Gun Show Clampdown
|Reuters - Wednesday - 21 June
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new Treasury Department report added
ammunition on Wednesday to the Clinton administration's long-stalled effort to
get Congress to clamp down on illegal trafficking of firearms at gun shows.
In the report sent to the White House, Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms said that of the 1,500 firearms trafficking investigations from July
1996 and December 1998, 14 percent stemmed from trafficking at gun shows.
As part of a broader effort, the Clinton administration has been pushing
unsuccessfully for background checks on all buyers at the popular gun shows,
before they receive weapons.
Despite a spate of deadly shooting incidents nationwide, lawmakers have
rejected the tougher anti-gun measures for more than a year, siding with
industry lobbyists and the National Rifle Association, which claims such efforts
would infringe on gun owners' rights.
The report said about 26,000 firearms were illegally ''diverted'' from legal
sales channels at gun shows and turned up later in crimes ranging from
killings to robberies.
Gun shows were ``a special case,'' it said, because licensed dealers as
well as unlicensed dealers can sell guns at them but there is no legal
obligation on the unlicensed dealers to conduct background checks.
After the report was issued, President Clinton again urged lawmakers to act.
``I urge the Congress to close the deadly gun show loophole once and for all
and pass other stalled common sense gun measures without delay,'' Clinton
said in a statement.
In a letter accompanying the report to the White House, Treasury Secretary
Lawrence Summers cited law enforcement successes in convicting criminals
who were located through the gun trafficking investigations.
He said more than 1,700 people were prosecuted for gun-law offenses in the
1996-1998 period, of whom more than 1,000 were found guilty and sentenced
in federal, state and local courts.
``We are cracking down on gun traffickers and making it harder and harder for
criminals to obtain guns illegally,'' Summers said.
But, he added, ``We must do more to close every trafficking channel, starting
with closing the gun-show loophole and stiffening penalties for firearms dealers
and large-scale traffickers.''