SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 30, 2013

After gun crime, weapon history takes time to find

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If police chiefs want that, they have to reach out to individual chiefs at other departments and ask.

"It's pretty ridiculous when we have an automated system that will do it for the chiefs," Bouchard said.

Tiahrt said he first proposed limiting access to trace data to make sure the information wasn't available under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. It was an issue of keeping undercover police, informants and innocent gun buyers and sellers out of the public eye, Tiahrt said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Knowing who legally buys guns won't prevent gun violence, the former Republican congressman said.

"We're chasing these wisps of smoke that won't solve the problem," Tiahrt said. "Get to the root cause. Put out the fire. Deal with mental illness. Deal with situational awareness."

Houser said he would prefer the tracing center's operations to be expanded and a center built that would use some technologies to help more easily trace a gun. But until the law changes, his staff will continue removing staples, turning pages right-side-up and taking digital pictures of records.

"Our job is to enforce the laws that are passed to us," Houser said. "What they give us is what we are required to work with."

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