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ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
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MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2013 | 3:45:19 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
The joy is each one of us can look at a list of projects and assign differing priorities according to our experience. I might say for instance, how can archiving email in a currently functional email system or moving it to the cloud trump antiquated gun control given the ever increasing cases. Another challenge is exemplified in states like Kansas which is proposing legislation to shield it from federal gun control legislation it deems illegal. One clause for example eliminates weapons produced and maintained in Kansas from entering the federal tracing system. Do we seriously believe some of those weapons would not make their way to Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska or Aurora Colorado?
Jeffs1110
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Jeffs1110,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2013 | 5:03:12 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
This is part of the equation. Two factors are not mentioned. First, there's legislation prohibiting creating a national firearms registry, so being able to retrieve this data quickly without creating a de facto registry will be a challenge. Second, The only records available at the ATF are from retired or out of business Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) records. If the firearm was purchase or transferred through an active FFL the request has to go to that FFL and retrieved from the FFL's paper or computerized records.
NJ Mike
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NJ Mike,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2013 | 5:58:27 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
"If you're wondering why the ATF doesn't replace its kludge of a system with a state-of-the-art database management system that could locate documents in minutes instead of days, it's because there are laws against it. The agency is restricted by the Firearms Owners Protection Act from creating a national database of gun registrations, sales or owners." - Basically you're saying the reason the ATF isn't creating this modern data base is because it is against the law. If it is against the law, they SHOULDN'T be creating one. If you don't like it, try and change the law.
John Foley
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John Foley,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2013 | 6:39:33 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
ATF's gun tracing capabilities are a function of several factors -- policy, process, technology, funding, willingness to participate. I'm not suggesting that ATF operate outside the law or that the law be changed. Rather, my point is that newer technologies are available that could be used to deliver better/faster results within the law. Technology shouldn't be the point of failure in this important initiative, regardless of where you stand on the policy question.
ANewNickname
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ANewNickname,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2013 | 11:10:14 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
The reason "The influential National Rifle Association gets fidgety at the mere mention of a centralized firearms database" is (justified, IMHO) fear that a central registry would facilitate widespread gun confiscation. I'm not an expert, but I see no reason such a database couldn't be constructed to allow rapid tracing of an individual firearm's history while maintaining anonymity of the owner(s) via an encryption scheme that would allow decoding of ownership information only via a court-ordered search warrant. That would ease (although not completely eliminate) most such fears.
kburgess856
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kburgess856,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 1:29:10 AM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
In 1999 and 2000 UNISYS pitched a database to the ATF to replace the obsolescent software. We were resoundingly rejected, based upon the admission that Congress was no longer adequately supporting the ATF. We thought that odd, as ATF falls under Department of Treasury jurisdiction. Treas. is the umbrella that also covers the IRS & Secret Service, supposedly teflon budgets so we were greatly surprised.
Consequently Unisys dropped that entire contract, and the Bureau chief was converted to a Temporary position...
NRA lobbyists have anything to do with this? You be the judge.
kburgess856
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kburgess856,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 1:34:34 AM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
You are correct except on one minor point, which is a major issue: the laws SHOULD be changed.
The ability to track, as well as form a permanent registry is the only effective way to properly regulate the business of death.
Frankly if we can do it, and ensure insurance and other minimum safety requirements for cars, trains, busses, and airplanes which 'might' be dangerour or even deadly, as a matter of national security & public safety, then we SHOULD be able to do so for weapons whose sole purpose is to injure or kill.
Not only that, but it will provide a wealth of currently lost revenue.

Remember that the 2nd Amendment specifies "A well regulated militia"
kburgess856
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kburgess856,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 1:46:14 AM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
You are correct Phoebe, and frankly no government agency has the money or they're just too lazy to bother trying something dangerous, crazy, and costly like confiscation.

Unless you are an enemy of the State, mentally unstable, or convicted and serving time or on probation for a crime you need not fear confiscation.

Believe me, if 12 million people can reside & work here illegally, no reasonable government will bother law abiding citizens who own firearms.

That will be true, even IF Congress changes laws and government budgeting to allow such a database to even be created.
IkeK
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IkeK,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 3:14:26 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
ATF is already in violation of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, but profess that any system of records begun prior to enactment in 1986 are exempt from the law.... Note that the law does not exempt paper nor microfilm registration records. It specifically prohibits "any system of registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearms transactions or disposition". The ATF Firearms Tracing System is precisely such a registration system prohibited by law.


"No such rule or regulation prescribed [by the Attorney General] after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary's authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation."

Nevertheless, the ATF Firearms Tracing System (FTS) contains hundreds of millions of firearm tracing and registration records, and consists of several databases:

1. Multiple Sale Reports. Over 460,000 (2003) Multiple Sales reports (ATF F 3310.4 - a registration record with specific firearms and owner name and address - increasing by about 140,000 per year). Reported as 4.2 million records in 2010.

2. Suspect Guns. All guns "suspected" of being used for criminal purposes but not recovered by law enforcement. This database includes (ATF's own examples), individuals purchasing large quantities of firearms, and dealers with improper record keeping. May include guns observed by law enforcement in an estate, or at a gun show, or elsewhere. Reported as 34,807 in 2010.

3. Traced Guns. Over 4 million detail records from all traces since inception.This is a registration record which includes the personal information of the first retail purchaser, along with the identity of the selling dealer.

4. Out of Business Records. Data is manually collected from paper Out-of-Business records (or input from computer records) and entered into the trace system by ATF. These are registration records which include name and address, make, model, serial and caliber of the firearm(s), as well as data from the 4473 form - in digital or image format. In March, 2010, ATF reported receiving several hundred million records since 1968.

5. Theft Guns. Firearms reported as stolen to ATF. Contained 330,000 records in 2010. Contains only thefts from licensed dealers and interstate carriers (optional). Does not have an interface to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) theft data base, where the majority of stolen, lost and missing firearms are reported.
John Foley
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John Foley,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 5:47:48 PM
re: ATF's Gun Tracing System Is A Dud
The Firearms Tracing System as it exists isn't much of a system (microfiche is offline storage), which is why I used quote marks around the term in my column. Better to call it the Firearms Tracing Process. I'm not convinced that ATF is outside the scope of the law with its current approach, but I have no doubt there's room for interpretation. Maybe the answer, for those of us who want current federal policy and law properly implemented, is develop better real-time processes that are tech-enabled out on the edges. The records would remain with the gun sellers (federal firearms licensees) until required as part of a criminal investigation, at which point digitization and automation would streamline information sharing. At the same time, microfiche would be upgraded to a newer platform with better search capabilities. As I said in an earlier comment, there should be a better way of doing this while staying within the law.
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