Mixed Bag on Crime Funding as Action Continues
Congress Continues Moving Backwards on Gun Safety
By Ed Somers
July 24, 2006
While there is still no COPS hiring funding in either the House or Senate appropriations bills, some modest increases are being proposed for the block grant program.
The House and Senate bills would each provide increases in core funding under the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants – for a total of $465 million in the Senate, and $445 million in the House. While this is a major improvement over the $322 million provided last year and zero requested by the Administration, it is still far below the $1 billion contained in the program when it was merged and created several years ago.
More money is provided in each bill for Methamphetamine Hot Spots (most of which is earmarked), and the House bill would provide $40 million like last year for anti-gang programs.
At serious risk is the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. While the House has approved $405 million as last year, the Senate bill contains only $100 million, with the Administration recommending elimination.
The House has completed action on its appropriations bill (H.R. 5672, Report 109-520), and the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version (Report 109-280), which is awaiting floor action.
House Repeals Trigger Locks
Prior to final floor passage, the House voted 230-191 in favor of an amendment barring the expenditure of federal funds to enforce a new law requiring trigger locks to be included with new handguns that are sold. The amendment was offered by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (CO), and would repeal the mandatory trigger lock provision, which was included in a bill President Bush signed just last fall shielding gun makers from lawsuits. So far, the Senate bill does not contain a similar repeal.
In addition, both the House and Senate appropriations bills would continue to inhibit the ability of law enforcement to limit illegal gun activity. The amendments:
- Limit the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to share firearms tracing data;
- Prohibit ATF from finalizing a rule to require firearms dealers to conduct physical inventories;
- Prohibit ATF from denying or revoking a dealers’ license due to lack of business activity; and
- Reduce the time that approved gun sales records can be saved from 90 days to no more than 24 hours.
In addition, legislation has been moving in the House to make these provisions permanent.
The Conference of Mayors adopted policy during its 74th Annual Meeting in June strongly opposing these provisions.