Gun control advocates won a rare victory this past Friday when congressional negotiators removed a provision from the final budget deal that would have made it much harder for the government to regulate firearm sales along the Mexico border.
The amendment, offered by Reps. Dan Boren (D-Ok) and Denny Rehberg (R-MT), would have prevented federal funds from being used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to track bulk sales of long guns in Southwest states. Up until late moments in the negotiations, sources familiar with the discussions say, it remained in the text of the final continuing resolution.
But sometime before the final deal was announced on Friday night, lawmakers stripped the rider from the bill, in the process providing an incredible rare event during the gun policy debates: a win for the control advocates.
The move came after concerned lawmakers and even Mexico Ambassador to the U.S. (many guns sold on the border end up in Mexico) lobbied congressional leadership and the White House to strip the language from the bill.
ATF is already chronically underfunded and has been without a confirmed director since 2006 as a result of inaction by past sessions of Congress, read a statement of congratulations from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a co-chair of the group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. We welcome this sign that leaders in Washington may be ready to step up and help law enforcement save lives
Privately, gun control advocates acknowledge that the simple removal of the Boren amendment represents small and low-hanging fruit among organization objectives. To wildly cheer such a development could give off the impression of that longer-term objectives are hopelessly unreachable.
Yet, as one operative in the gun control community notes,its hard to recall the last time the NRA didnt get a priority, which the Boren amendment was. And the amendment's defenders were notably silent after it was stripped from the CR.
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesperson for the NRA, said that the group did not put out a statement on the rider being stripped. Rehbergs office did not have a statement either. A call to Borens office was not immediately returned.