Florida Sen. Bill Nelson wants to create a gun-tracing database

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PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Federal law prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from creating an electronic, accessible database of gun records – but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he has a fix for that.

That’s why he’s filed a bill called the Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act, which would give ATF up to three years to create a database that would include all records in its possession on the sale, importation, production or shipment of firearms.

Under the current system, agents can't simply search a gun’s serial number to check its ownership. To do so, first they have to contact the manufacturer, then the wholesalers. and finally the licensed dealer at which the weapon was bought. And if a gun shop has gone out of business, well, those agents are simply out of luck – they have to flip through paper records kept at the ATF’s National Tracing Center in West Virginia to figure out the gun's trajectory.



Parkland activist and shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez has voiced her support for the bill, calling it "super important" on Twitter.

But don’t expect the National Rifle Association to roll over easy on legislation of this nature – or anything involving stricter gun laws. It should go without saying that the NRA remains convinced (as in foaming at the mouth) that gun owners shouldn’t be required to register with the government to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.

Making matters even more complicated, Florida law says that it’s a felony offense to create a list of gun owners. Government agencies risk up to a $5 million fine from the state for doing so.

The Florida Legislature has previously concluded a list of gun owners could be “an instrument for profiling, harassing or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right.”

And by that the Legislature means: This is the best excuse we can come up with to not hold ourselves, and gun owners in Florida, responsible.

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