Congresswoman To Introduce ‘Very Narrow’ Gun Control Bill This Week

Badger Guns has a bad reputation. Before selling the weapon that eventually shot two police officers in the face, the Milwaukee firearm dealer had racked up 130 federal gun regulation violations in nearly two years. Coincidentally or not, the store has one of the worst records in the country of selling guns that are later used in crimes.
But Badger Guns — with its myriad violations and crime gun sales — is also a rarity. According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, nine out of ten firearms used in crimes can be traced back to just 5 percent of American gun dealers. The Brady Center deems these dealers “bad apples,” and accuses them of “willfully ignor[ing] telltale signs of illegal gun purchases.”
Now, one congresswoman is hoping that targeting “bad apple” dealers across the country can prove a bipartisan endeavor. On Wednesday, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) will introduce the Gun Dealer Accountability Act, which seeks to give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) more authority to inspect dealers with a history of selling weapons eventually used in crimes. “This is very narrow — it is not, ‘Let’s repeal the Second Amendment,’” Moore told ThinkProgress. “This would only provide some flexibility for [federal regulators] to be able to examine a store where a large number of crime guns are sold.”
Moore asserts that her bill is both narrow enough and timely enough to work. It’s timely, she says, because of Badger Guns’ recent conviction, and the recent mass shooting on an Oregon college campus. And it’s narrow because it only targets two specific classes of firearm dealers: Those that have already been found by a court to have knowingly or negligently participated in an illegal gun sale, and those that have sold more than 10 crime guns in two years.
“Every time we talk with our friends across the aisle, they say the same thing — no one wants to see an illegal gun on our streets,” said Eric Harris, Moore’s communications director. “This is a way we can prevent that.”
The Gun Dealer Accountability Act would give the ATF authority to put these dealers on probation. That “probation” would allow the ATF to inspect that dealer more than once a year. Moore argues this is necessary because right now, the ATF can only conduct spot inspections on gun dealers once every year, no matter how many violations they’ve racked up or how many crime guns they’ve sold.
“Right now, the ATF’s hands are tied,” Moore said, adding that under her bill “[inspections] wouldn’t be required, but it would give them the authority to do it.”
In addition to inspections, Moore’s bill would require gun stores on probation to temporarily conduct physical inventory of their firearms. She notes that, under the Tiahrt Amendment of 2003, the ATF was prohibited from requiring gun dealers to submit inventories. She finds this particularly egregious.
“It is amazing to me that gun shops are not required to [submit] inventory of the guns they have. That’s ridiculous,” she said. “We keep inventory of Barbie dolls, to make sure employees don’t steal them! It’s crazy.”
Of course, Moore acknowledges that gun stores can be fooled into illegal gun sales by particularly savvy people. That’s why the threshold for probation is 10 crime guns per two years, and probation is optional. But something has to be changed, Moore said, because with the ATF lacking authority to perform inspections and current federal law that makes it nearly impossible to sue gun stores, “bad apple” dealers are not being held accountable.
“These are not respectable businesses when people are murdered on a daily basis with these illegal guns,” she said. “These are not guns people are using for deer hunting season, to get some good venison for the Thanksgiving. These are not Bernie Sanders’ gun stores up in Vermont. This is not Sarah Palin shooting the moose for her stew.”
But Moore also admitted that she has not yet received any support from Republicans or even moderate Democrats. When the bill drops on Wednesday, she hopes that will change. If it doesn’t — and with a perpetually gridlocked Congress wary of anything even remotely resembling gun control, it likely won’t — she knows who she will blame.
“The influence of the [National Rifle Association] is just really a factor here,” she said, suggesting that the influential pro-gun lobbying organization would discourage members from supporting what they may see as a form a gun control. “They don’t want the NRA dropping $5 million worth of commercials on them during their next election.”
A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association did not return ThinkProgress’ request for comment.

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest
Scroll to Top