WASHINGTON, D.C. — "Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence" has written Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, protesting an amendment to the federal budget that would undermine the ability to monitor bulk sales of assault rifles. The March 1 letter asserts that the Boren Amendment (no. 566), which passed the House of Representatives, would impede the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) to crack down on the increasing illegal trafficking of long guns and assault weapons along the U.S. southwest border.
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence is a diverse coalition of 26 national denominations and organizations to confront America's gun violence epidemic. The coalition's goal is to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire. The new coalition announced its formation soon after the tragic shootings in Tucson on Jan. 8, and condemned the continuing violence where 32 persons are murdered by guns every day in the United States.
"As members of the faith community, we are keenly aware of the consequences of gun violence in our communities and within our families," wrote Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society and chair of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. "All too often the weapons used to commit these deadly acts of violence are obtained through illegal means. Therefore, it is imperative that law enforcement has the ability to detect and interdict illegal gun trafficking patterns."
According to the letter, which was copied to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Boren provision would make it impossible to implement a rule proposed by ATF in December to help federal law enforcement investigate and curb gun trafficking along the southwest border. ATF's rule requires licensed gun dealers in southwest border states to report bulk sales of certain semi-automatic rifles.
Boren's amendment would gut ATF's authority to track bulk sales of semi-automatic rifles. Denying ATF advance warning of these suspicious sales will make it harder to detect and disrupt illegal gun trafficking, according to Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
"As members of the faith community, who spend too much of our time burying mothers, fathers, and children killed by guns, we are deeply concerned about the dangers that illegal gun trafficking poses to the safety of our communities and our families," the letter states.
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence emphasizes in its letter that Congress should support ATF's carefully drawn proposal to expedite investigations, rather than using an appropriations rider to shut it down.