One major newspaper calls the Tiahrt Amendment the Senate's "most pernicious gift to the gun lobby."The Courier Times was spot-on, absolutely right here. Unfortunately, Specter chickened out, though he had a lot of company.
The description is right on target for a measure that restricts the access of local law enforcement agencies to vital gun-crime data.
Scheduled to come up for a renewal vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee today, the amendment is the darling of the weapons industry and a favorite of the National Rifle Association.
Kansas Republican Todd Tiahrt introduced the rider to the annual Department of Justice appropriations bill in 2003, arguing that restrictions were necessary to protect the gun industry from nuisance lawsuits by cities such as Philadelphia and New York.
Among its other provisions, the amendment says police and other investigators cannot request information on whether a gun owner has bought other firearms that have been used in a crime.
Several Pennsylvania police chiefs or public safety directors have joined hundreds of their colleagues across the country in criticizing this misguided effort and seeking its repeal.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives maintains a database that could help law enforcement agencies develop effective strategies against gun trafficking and illegal guns.
In a letter, the crime fighters argue persuasively that limiting the bureau's ability to disclose this data ties their hands while protecting corrupt gun dealers.
In the post-9/11 era, when sharing information is an imperative and not a luxury, the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment takes on special urgency. We urge Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, a key player in this issue, to stand against the gun lobby and for law enforcement.
(And by the way, to point out what an idiot Tiahrt is, to say nothing of being an NRA shill, here is a link to a post describing his opposition to an HIV needle-exchange program, fighting it on the grounds that, in his opinion, it encourages drug use. I have a feeling, though, that if I dug a bit deeper, I'd probably find that Tiahrt votes in lockstep with the wingnuts regarding their agenda on everything.)
And on top of that, a great big raspberry goes out to Kansas TV station KWCH which refused to air an ad paid for by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg opposing Tiahrt's amendment that would run in Tiahrt's district, as noted in the Gun Guys post above (all peas in the same unholy pod, apparently).
The Senate Appropriations Committee, as noted here, passed the so-called Shelby Amendment by Dem-turncoat-turned-Repug Richard Shelby that ended up reinstating the Tiahrt Amendment into the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill after it was removed by Dem senator Barbara Mikulski (I guess that sort of slight of hand is how people wearing business attire manage to act like criminals while convincing some people that they're "solid citizens").
And in addition to the usual Repug suspects, the following Dems covered themselves with this muck by supporting Tiahrt-Shelby: Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE).
As the Courier Times so correctly stated, sharing gun-crime data is vital if we're going to defend ourselves against threats of terrorism, to say nothing of trying to save our cities (and to find out about the huge amount of opposition to the Tiahrt Amendment that they noted, click here; the Philadelphia Inquirer is noticeably absent on the list of newspapers running anti-Tiahrt editorials, by the way). Still, though, our politicians caved in fear of the NRA, worrying about attack gun ads from this bunch as well as a loss of campaign funds.
And as far as PA goes, I think the only thing we can say is, "Heckuva job, Arlen."
Update 7/2: Here's more from the New York Times.
Update 7/17: Fair is fair, and I should have pointed out earlier that the Inquirer did write an editorial opposing the Tiahrt Amendment here (registration may be required).