Access Restrictions on the Release of Gun Sales Data

Posted to Data Sharing  |  Nathan Yau

I just found this in my draft folder from a while back. It's kind of old news, but I think it's still worth mentioning.

Gun control advocates failed to gain local government and law enforcement agencies' access to gun sales data.

The House Appropriations Committee defeated two attempts by gun control advocates to strip four-year-old restrictions on the use of information from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracing gun sales. The votes were a victory for the National Rifle Association and came despite the Democratic takeover of Congress in January.

One side argues that gun sales data will help law enforcement agencies track gun dealers who sell guns illegally. The other side argues that there's privacy at stake, and there's a chance that police officers' identities could be inferred. A big victory for gun rights advocates, or so the the article might suggest.

My opinion -- even if gun sales data were given to law enforcement, how could anyone guarantee data integrity? I think it's fair to say that dealers selling guns illegally aren't going to provide accurate reports. Sell a gun under the table with cash, don't report it, and the data doesn't reveal much. Am I missing something here?

4 Comments

  • Aron Pilhofer October 24, 2007 at 6:39 am

    Yes, you’re missing a lot. This data used to be available not only to local governments, but also to the news media. It was used to report on things like — surplus guns sold by police departments used in crimes, gun dealers selling to felons, etc. I guess I believe these kinds of stories were important.

  • Oh, yeah, for sure. Those stories ARE important, but I guess I’m just a bit skeptical about how accurate that type of data is going to be.

    Surplus guns sold by police departments…I think I’d trust that data, but data that relies on gun dealers to fill out paperwork… how reliable is that data and how much under the table stuff is going on? I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just seen one too many crime dramas.

  • Noticed a story in the news today about the surge in gun sales recently. I imagine gun advocates are afraid of more Democrat control. Not to mention these difficult economic times will bring more and more crime.

    I was searching the internet to see if I could find statistics on gun sales over time. I would be interested to see if gun sales always go up at around election time.

    In my cynicism, I wonder what the relationship is between the motivations for the NRA to scare Americans about losing their guns whenever a Democrat might win; and the money flowing from the gun lobby, gun manufacturers and sellers.

    Any idea of where I can find statistics on gun sales over a time period of say decades?

  • Noticed a story in the news today about the surge in gun sales recently. I imagine gun advocates are afraid of more Democrat control. Not to mention these difficult economic times will bring more and more crime.

    I was searching the internet to see if I could find statistics on gun sales over time. I would be interested to see if gun sales always go up at around election time.

    In my cynicism, I wonder what the relationship is between the motivations for the NRA to scare Americans about losing their guns whenever a Democrat might win; and the money flowing from the gun lobby, gun manufacturers and sellers.

    Any idea of where I can find statistics on gun sales over a time period of say decades?

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