“New Jersey stepped up, said we have this data, we get it from ATF and we’re going do the work to gather, visualize and then publicize this,” David Chipman, a former ATF agent and the senior policy adviser at Giffords, the organization named for gun-attack victim and former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The data release comes amid a national conversation surrounding gun control in the aftermath of fatal shootings at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and as Democrats push for tighter gun laws while the Republican-led Congress has not passed any such measures.
In New Jersey, Murphy and the Democrat-led Legislature are pushing a package of six gun control bills.
The speed of the state’s release of ATF data stands out particularly because the most current information the bureau has publicized is from 2016.
ATF Special Agent Joshua Jackson said the bureau won’t comment on how a state could publicize data faster than the agency itself. He also said the bureau doesn’t track state initiatives in response to questions about whether New Jersey was the first to publish the data this quickly.
Chipman and Kyleanne Hunter, the Brady Campaign’s vice president for programs, said they believe ATF does not prioritize near-real-time release of data.
“It hasn’t been a priority, even less so in this administration,” Hunter said of President Donald Trump.
Speedy data reporting by ATF is also a political lightning rod. That’s because the ATF’s release of data is governed by an appropriations provision that prohibits it from releasing information from its firearms trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation.