Washington, D.C., March 6, 2024 – The newly announced Congressional appropriations package is poised to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from reporting lawfully prohibited individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and significantly reduce the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) funding. Brady, the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization, released the following statement.

Kris Brown, President of Brady, said:

“The proposed budget cut to ATF is an affront to the progress being made to free America from gun violence, the number one killer of America’s kids, by narrowing the agency’s capacity for gun industry oversight and accountability. This uniquely American crisis cannot be solved if the primary enforcement agency tasked with pursuing gun traffickers and problematic gun dealers has its hands tied because it is underfunded. ATF is already operating on a bare-bones budget. There is only one ATF inspector for every 142 federally licensed firearm dealers, allowing thousands of gun dealers to go over a decade without a single compliance inspection. These inspections are critical – they are the principal way ATF can ensure adherence to the law and educate FFLs on best practices; discover missing firearms inventory; and identify potential straw purchasers, traffickers, and other prohibited individuals that access firearms. This staffing shortage has deadly consequences, and we cannot afford the ATF to be stripped down even further.

“Brady’s report on dealers who are on notice from ATF for supplying crime guns and fueling gun violence in their communities – and in the communities where these guns are trafficked to – illustrates how the current skeleton crew operating at the bureau is not enough to tamp down gun trafficking and other crime. In a country where there are more gun dealers than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined, we deserve a robust force honed in on oversight to ensure that problematic dealers are held accountable.

“What may be more alarming is the horrifically dangerous Kennedy Amendment, which undercuts the Brady Background Check System. This egregious amendment was voted on just hours before the horrifying mass shooting in Lewiston, with support from all Senate Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 2 Independents. If signed into law, it could prevent the VA from reporting individuals prohibited from possessing guns to NICS, making it virtually impossible to prevent veterans and other VA beneficiaries, many of whom are at great risk of dangerous behavior, from purchasing and possessing new firearms, a critical tool in reducing suicide risk.

“Already, an estimated 12 veterans die each day by firearm suicide. With the Kennedy Amendment stripping away the VA’s ability to report these at-risk individuals, there is no telling how many more of our nation’s veterans will die by gun violence because of renewed access to lethal means.

“It is worth noting that we at Brady are grateful for the parts of this package that will combat gun violence as a result of efforts of Congressional gun violence prevention champions. Namely, the Undetectable Firearms Act (UFA) was renewed for another 7 years. It will prevent the proliferation of firearms that can skirt through metal detectors at airports, concert venues, or sporting events. Congressional leadership also removed numerous harmful policy riders that would have blocked funding for President Biden’s executive orders and other life-saving initiatives and provided funding for community violence intervention programs, that are proven effective in combatting the gun violence epidemic.

“President Biden has made tremendous strides in bringing us closer to a future free from gun violence, but this appropriations bill risks walking some of this progress back. We are outraged and hope lawmakers will grasp why these dangerous proposals should be struck from this bill immediately.”

Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands


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