VPC Submits Comments
on Ashcroft Background Check Proposal�Urges FBI to Reject Ashcroft's Dangerous
WASHINGTON, DC�Yesterday, the Violence Policy Center (VPC), a national
non-profit educational organization working to stop gun death and injury
in America, joined by Legal Community Against Violence and Physicians
for Social Responsibility, submitted
formal comments to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opposing
Attorney General John Ashcroft's proposed rule which would dramatically
impair the Brady Law's National Instant Criminal Background Check System
(NICS) by requiring virtually immediate destruction of the vast majority
of records in the system. The retention of these records for a reasonable
period of time is necessary to protect the privacy and security of the
system. Without a reasonable retention period, there is no way to identify
felons who defraud the background check system by using fake identification,
domestic abusers who force their partners to buy guns for them, or bad-apple
dealers who run background checks on neighbors or others who are not buying
In its comments, the VPC points out that the proposed rule is the "fruit
of a poisonous tree" because it is a byproduct of an an illegal suspension
by Ashcroft of a final rule, developed during the Clinton Administration.
The Clinton rule would have allowed law enforcement to retain records
of approved gun sales for audit purposes for 90 days. The proposal to
require near-immediate destruction emerged after Ashcroft postponed the
implementation of the 90-day rule, considered cutting the time to 45 days,
and then, at the last minute, cut the time for retention down to a maximum
of 24 hours. Just three days before Ashcroft announced his proposal, the
U.S. Supreme Court rejected once and for all the National Rifle Association's
legal challenge to the FBI's authority to retain records for audit purposes.
Paradoxically, the Ashcroft Justice Department actually argued for such
a ruling before in the Supreme Court.
"For Attorney General Ashcroft to advocate the near-immediate destruction
of all records of approved gun sales just three days after the U.S. Supreme
Court told him that the audit log was perfectly legal is proof positive
that the NRA is calling the shots at the Justice Department," said Mathew
Nosanchuk, VPC litigation director and legislative counsel. "What the
NRA could not get from the courts, Attorney General Ashcroft has handed
the gun lobby on a silver platter."
The VPC comments on Attorney General Ashcroft's proposal are available
the leading source of ongoing information on Ashcroft, his pro-gun activities
and gun-lobby ties, as well as his enforcement of current gun laws. The
site can also be reached through the VPC's main web site at www.vpc.org.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, September 5, 2001
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105