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Page 1 News & Morning in America
Dec. 17. 2001

Senator Charles Schumer has introduced a bill requiring the Department of Justice to keep personal data on law-abiding gun buyers, and to offer the information for unlimited use by state and local agencies

Senator Charles Schumer says he wants the Department of Justice to keep personal data on law-abiding gun buyers from the National Instant Check System, and to offer the information for unlimited use by state and local agencies.

National Rifle Association Executive Vice Wayne LaPierre called the move "gun owner registration, plain and simple."

Mr. Schumer introduced the "Use NICS in Terrorist Investigations Act" after Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to allow the FBI access to NICS records of lawful gun purchases.

Senator Schumer introduced the bill one day after Mr. Ashcroft explained that he was obeying the law, which, Mr. Ashcroft said "indicates that the only permissible use for the National Instant Check System is to audit the maintenance of that system. The Department of Justice is committed to following the law."

Mr. Ashcroft also reminded the senators that NICS records from any illegal attempt to purchase a weapon, whether by a convicted felon, a terrorist, an illegal alien, or a person with a history of mental illness, are maintained indefinitely, and completely available to police.

But Senator Schumer, along with Senator Edward Kennedy and five other co-sponsors, dismissed Mr. Ashcroft's explanation and offered the bill in response.

The NRA said "Anti-gun extremists have been attempting for weeks to invoke the specter of terrorists acquiring firearms as justification for their attempts to end traditional American gun shows, and to establish a registry of law-abiding gun purchasers."

Mr. LaPierre said "This will be the basis of a national firearms-owner computer registry that would profile decent honest citizens, violate their privacy, and provide a locator to assist Kennedy's and Schumer's vision of ultimately banning private ownership of firearms. You have to think about what a Janet Reno would do with this power."

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