Dems press ATF to update decades-old gun violence data
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House Democrats are calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to update a report it last published nearly two decades ago about gun violence to help inform public policy on the issue.

The request, in the form of a letter to ATF Director Thomas Brandon, comes after Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor this summer to bring attention to what they see as congressional inaction in response to mass shootings.

The ATF last published a report titled “Following the Gun,” which reviewed how criminals obtain firearms, in 2000. The lawmakers said that a new report with more recent statistics would provide the public with more understanding of how gun violence occurs in America.

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The lawmakers noted to Brandon that congressional offices and research organizations “continue to regularly cite possibly outdated statistics from the report.”

“Updated research and reports will aid policymakers as we continue to confront this crisis we are facing as a nation,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who spearheaded the letter, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Quigley's district represents parts of Chicago, which has seen hundreds of gun deaths so far this year.

Democrats have pushed to eliminate a budget provision that has effectively frozen most government research into gun violence for nearly two decades.

The provision, first enacted in 1996 under pressure from gun rights groups, prohibits the use of federal funds “to advocate or promote gun control.” The statute has resulted in a chilling effect on government research into gun violence, even though it is not an outright ban on producing data related to the effects of firearms.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee blocked a Democratic effort in July to allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun-related deaths.

House GOP leaders have been considering formally reprimanding Democrats for commandeering the floor in June in violation of the chamber’s rules. 

A resolution to rebuke Democrats for their rule-breaking never came to the House floor while the chamber was in session last month, despite suggestions from GOP leaders that they were thinking about a formal floor vote.

Instead, it’s possible that Republicans, assuming they keep control of the House after the elections, could make changes to the official rules for the next Congress that starts in January to prevent anything like the sit-in from happening again.