Holder Acts on Gun-Data Sharing and Collection; Unilateral Moves Limited

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Byline: David Sherfinski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Not waiting for Congress to act, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is moving on gun control, submitting three measures Monday to increase data sharing and data collection on firearms and potential gun purchasers - and illustrating the limitations President Obama's administration has to act unilaterally on the issue.

The first of Mr. Holder's proposals would expand access to information on gun permits to Indian tribal law enforcement agencies; the second would allow local law enforcement to access the FBI's national criminal database to conduct background checks on people they're transferring weapons to; and the third would authorize the FBI to maintain records on denied firearms transactions in a separate database for longer than 10 years.

All three were published Monday in the Federal Register for comment.

These proposed changes are intended to promote public safety, to enhance the efficiency of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) operations, and to resolve difficulties created by unforeseen processing conflicts within the system, Mr. Holder wrote.

Under the Brady Act of 1993, background checks are required for any gun transfer from a federal firearms licensee to any unlicensed person. But access to NICS for background checks unrelated to those outlined in the law currently is limited to providing information in connection with a firearm- or explosives-related license or responding to an inquiry from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said after a meeting Monday with Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Mr. Holder that such measures are important low-hanging fruit even thought they may not get the attention of more contentious proposals such as on so-called assault weapons or limits on high-capacity magazines.

Let's get meaningful legislation on the books that's going to actually make a difference, even things like universal background checks, which may seem simple on the surface but are something that would be of help, he told CNN. …