Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin signaled this week he's ready to make another push to pass gun laws in the Senate, but the National Rifle Association immediately put the kibosh on his newest legislation.
Durbin's bill would incentivize law enforcement agencies to enter all of the guns used in crimes to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' National Tracing Center, a database that is used to detect firearms trafficking and illegal gun purchases.
Under current law, prosecutors and police can already put crime guns into the database, but many are not using it as a resource. That, Durbin says, must change. In Durbin's home state of Illinois, for example, police only enter about half of the crime guns into the national database. Nationwide, about one-third of law enforcement agencies enter information into the database.
"The information gleaned from a trace can help generate leads in identifying the person who used the gun to commit a crime and, when all guns in an area are traced, it can help law enforcement identify broader crime gun trends and trafficking patterns," Durbin said. "[This bill] will aid that fight by encouraging law enforcement to trace every single gun used in a violent crime."
Under Durbin's law, federal COPS grant funds would be distributed based off of the percentage of crime guns police officials submit into the database each year. But, pro gun groups like the National Rifle Association say Durbin's bill is a "solution in search of a problem." And in an era when resources are scare, groups argue Durbin should leave law enforcement to decide when a gun needs to be traced and when it doesn't.
"Under current law, and this is the way it has been , any law enforcement agency local, state and federal can have access to any and all trace information they desire in the course of an investigation," says Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association. "What is the problem? Where is the problem? These are funds that could be better used to put more law enforcement officers on the street."
Durbin has a long history of being at odds with the NRA and other gun rights groups. He has an "F" rating from the NRA.
In his most recent effort, Durbin pushed for a bipartisan background check passage in the Senate. The bill struggled to find the votes it needed to overcome a filibuster. Durbin told CNN after it failed that he didn't expect any significant gun packages to pass the Senate this year unless there was a significant "change to political sentiment."