The Violence Policy Center has voiced its angst over the failure of the House last week to pass a measure that would have overruled Attorney General John Ashcroft’s recent order forbidding the FBI from keeping instant background check information on gun buyers longer than 24 hours. As most every anti-gun group does when pro-gun supporters score a political victory, the VPC brainiacs predicted Ashcroft’s decision would lead to streets filled with chaos and blood.

Prior to Ashcroft’s order, the former Clinton administration had finalized a rule requiring the FBI to keep such information for 90 days, as per regulations contained in the original Brady Law.

In the wake of Ashcroft’s ruling, the VPC’s chief lawyer said in a statement that, by forbidding the FBI to hold onto instant background check records for three months, the attorney general “will put guns into the hands of criminals, wife beaters, and the mentally disturbed – guaranteed.”

“Today’s defeat of the 90-day amendment is a win for criminals and corrupt gun dealers and a huge loss for the safety and privacy of the American people,” said VPC Litigation Director and Legislative Counsel Mathew Nosanchuk.


According to a March 19 report issued by the General Accounting Office, undercover GAO agents – using fake identifications – were able to purchase any weapons they wanted from a number of lawful gun dealers in five states – Virginia, West Virginia (where the FBI’s NICS system is located), Montana, New Mexico and Arizona.

The study was requested by noted anti-gun fanatic Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and he specifically asked the GAO to try to purchase those weapons from dealers in states that used the FBI’s NICS system to screen all firearms buyers. At the time, obviously, the FBI was still retaining those records for 90 days.

In every instance, dealers “conformed to the Brady Act’s minimum requirements, relying on an instant background check” to screen all required weapons purchases (antique guns made over 100 years ago are not subject to the NICS requirement), the GAO said in a letter to Waxman.

Remember, the GAO study was completed in March; the VPC’s comments were made just last week. I find it impossible to believe that the VPC was not aware of the GAO’s findings, though it’s likely that VPC officials – if pressed – would deny any knowledge of it because it flies in the face of what the group said last week.

The fact is the gun-buying, Second Amendment-supporting crowd was right years ago when they predicted – correctly – that the NICS system would do everything to help the federal government collect information on gun owners and buyers, but do little or nothing to stop determined (read: the most dangerous) of criminals from buying guns.

Still, organizations like the VPC refuse to acknowledge this reality.

“The retained records are used to audit the background check system to make sure it works and is not being misused,” says the VPC. “The audit log serves an important law enforcement function and is the key tool in preventing fraud and abuse of NICS.”

Obviously not.

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