A new federal bill would reduce funding to police departments not tracking confiscated guns.
The Crime Gun Tracing Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), will add incentives for law enforcement to report guns used in crimes to a national database so they can be traced. The goal is to expose larger gun trafficking networks, but Durbin says many agencies don’t take advantage of the free program.
“As of today, almost half – 392 Illinois law enforcement agencies – have signed up,” said Durbin. “That’s a good number, but not good enough.”
His bill would tie participation in the program to how much financial assistance is provided by the federal government.
“The bill will then give a preference in federal grants to police departments to the agencies that traced all the crime guns they recovered,” said Durbin.
Durbin doesn’t believe police departments are abstaining from the program due to Second Amendment concerns, noting that the database is “not a registry of law-abiding gun owners.” He thinks lack of participation comes down to priorities for understaffed agencies.
“They’re thinking to themselves, ‘Is that patrol car, did they finally get the tires fixed on it? Are we going to have someone on patrol tonight?” said Durbin. “It’s some pretty basic things.”
Durbin urged those agencies not to wait until the bill is passed before beginning to use the tracing database.