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Brady Center pushes for more gun data

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- A Washington-based gun violence watchdog group is calling for the release of additional federal gun trace data.

On Monday the Justice Department's Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released federal gun trace data despite the controversial congressional restrictions on public disclosure of such data. Since 2004 ATF has restricted disclosure of gun trace data because of the Tiahrt Amendment. ATF acting Director Michael J. Sullivan has implied that the recent release of gun trace data is because of law enforcement leaders and others confusion about the intent of the Tiahrt Amendment.

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Now after the limited release, the non-profit Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for additional information on crime guns.

"The policy on gun trace data disclosure has become even more difficult to comprehend," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement. "After years of refusing to release this information by hiding behind the Tiahrt Amendment, the administration has now released carefully selected gun trace data despite the specific language in the law. … The strong opposition to the Tiahrt restrictions from law enforcement and the nation's mayors appears to have led to this change in interpretation."

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Since the Tiahrt Amendment enactment it has been opposed by more than 200 police chiefs and more than 240 mayors from more than 40 states, among other officials.

"If, as the acting director implies, the presumed restrictions have been a terrible misunderstanding, then nothing should bar the agency from releasing more aggregate information, similar to that released earlier this week, that we have requested today," Helmke said.

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