A BuzzFlash Editorial
July 10, 2002
Istook Goes Down Cheap For The NRA
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Representative Ernest Istook Jr. (R-OK) owes the National Rifle Association something for the $26,850 in contributions he's received since being elected in 1994 (Center for Responsive Politics). Now the National Rifle Association wants their big payback.
Istook sits on the House Appropriations Committee, which is currently debating the Fiscal Year 2003 Treasury-Postal Appropriation. Rather than debate the price of stamps, Mr. Istook decided to implement language in the appropriation bill that would block the Department of Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) from releasing information in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request relating to "the tracing of a firearm." Doesn't this Oklahoma Congressman have better things to do? Here's the story.
The City of Chicago filed a FOIA with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, seeking records maintained by ATF regarding multiple sales of firearms and firearms traced in crimes. The City of Chicago requested the information from ATF to demonstrate that although Chicago has restrictive gun control laws, gun manufacturers and distributors have willingly turned their heads when confronted with the fact that large numbers of their products (guns) are used in crimes. The City of Chicago issued the FOIA request as part of the city's public nuisance lawsuit against the gun industry. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with the City of Chicago and ordered ATF to release the records.
Enter Mr. Istook, who thinks no one is watching his blatant attempt to limit accountability of the gun industry and, in essence, overturn a U.S. Appeals Circuit Court decision. To Mr. Istook and the gun lobby who pulls his strings, if you don't like the rules or federal court decisions, then just change or override them to the gun lobby's advantage. If Rep. Istook succeeds, then cities and individuals will be denied access to records regarding where and how crime guns are distributed throughout the U.S.
Rep. Istook is trying to protect the gun lobby by not allowing the release of information that might show the dark side of the gun industry. The gun industry has created a secondary market for itself, completely unregulated, and ripe for guns to be used in crimes. The release of ATF records and databases could reveal that truth. Profit over people is the gun industry's motto.
The very purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to prevent our government from hiding important and relevant information. Arbitrary limits on FOIA requests should be carefully and publicly scrutinized. In this case, the gun lobby wants to limit any information that could prove to be damning or humiliating.
Representative Istook clearly has his priorities lined up with his campaign fund in trying to undercut the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that permits the release of ATF records.
Once again, an NRA-backed elected official chooses the gun lobby over law enforcement and the health and safety of American children and families.
The moral of the story is that "money talks." But Representative Istook already knows that.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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