At violent crime scenes, police recover thousands of guns every year, many of them having been trafficked illegally. A new bill proposed by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin urges police to trace those weapons with federal resources to help put a stop to gun violence.
To target gun traffickers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives set up a national database that tracks where the guns have been.
"The ATF has made it free and easy for all local police departments and sheriff's offices to trace guns," Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday. "Let me repeat that: free and easy."
The database could be a huge tool in stopping the flow of illegal guns in the country, Durbin said. The problem is less than half of law enforcement agencies actually report the guns to the ATF's database.
"How in the world can anybody argue with ignorance as one of the key elements in solving crime," Durbin said. "That's what we're talking about here."
Durbin is hoping to reverse that trend by introducing the Crime Gun Tracing Act. If passed, it would create strong incentives for police departments to report all the guns they recover at violent crime scenes into the database.
"For those local agencies that need a push to start tracing their crime guns, here's what it comes down to. Don't ask us for federal funds if you aren't doing what you need to do when it comes to tracing these guns."
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart fully supports the idea.
"How can we begin to find out where the guns are coming from if you don't trace them," Dart said.
If Durbin's proposal passes, law enforcement agencies would not be eligible for any federal grants unless they work to trace 100 percent of the guns they recover at violent crime scenes.