N.J. Senator Menendez co-launches bill to give ATF, FBI gun tracking power

The legislation seeks to repeal rules prohibiting federal agencies from releasing firearm tracing data to anyone, including the general public.

Sen. Menendez sits at a mahogany bench, speaking into a microphone.

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on US Policy in the Middle East, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

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U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), along with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), introduced legislation this week meant to change the laws surrounding federal gun data.

Menendez is a co-founder of the Senate Gun Violence Prevention Caucus that was formed last month.

Since 2003, Congressional Republicans have restricted both the ATF’s and FBI’s ability to collect, trace, and publish gun records by making amendments to the Department of Justice’s yearly funding bill.

If passed, the bill would repeal the following at the federal level:

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  • The prohibition on the ATF from releasing firearm tracing data for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public;
  • The prohibition on consolidating or centralizing records that gun dealers are required to maintain;
  • The requirement that the FBI destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours;
  • The prohibition on the ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement to enforce the federal law requiring dealers report the loss or theft of firearms.

Senators Menendez and Lee tried passing similar legislation in 2021.

Fellow Democrat and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is one of many senators co-sponsoring the bill.

Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon is a co-sponsor in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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