A law enforcement-friendly amendment attached to a spending bill and sponsored by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee with a definitive 19-10 vote victory. Similar language was approved by a House subcommittee.
"This is a great victory for law enforcement and a sound defeat for those seeking to misuse firearms tracing data— jeopardizing the lives of law enforcement officers—in order to file civil lawsuits against members of the firearms industry," says National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence G. Keane. "The Shelby amendment is about securing investigations and protecting lives."
The Shelby amendment prohibits local politicians and the general public from accessing confidential firearms tracing data, while enabling law enforcement at all levels to retain full access and the authority to share the information with colleagues.
Citing the threats to law enforcement officers, witnesses, and others, Congress, ATF, and law enforcement groups including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association have been adamant supporters of securing firearms tracing data.
Earth Times reports that with regard to the amendment, a recent op-ed piece to the Wichita Eagle quotes FOP President Chuck Canterbury as saying "the officers in the field who are actually working illegal gun cases know that releasing sensitive information about pending cases can jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or even place the lives of undercover officers in danger. That is why the Fraternal Order of Police has always supported language protecting firearms trace data."