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Readers React: How pro-NRA laws made it more difficult for the FBI to act on a tip about Nikolas Cruz

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., hold signs appealing to Florida legislators to pass gun-control laws.
(Cristobal Herrera / European Pressphoto Agency)

To the editor: In the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Trump has directed his ire toward the FBI for failing to act on a tip about suspect Nikolas Cruz. (“FBI says it failed to properly investigate January tip on teen accused in deadly Florida school shooting,” Feb. 16)

Recall that current law forbids the federal government from creating any computerized database of gun purchasers. This stems from the 1970s, when President Carter called for the creation of a national gun registry. Carter’s initiative galvanized the National Rifle Assn. to oppose any record-keeping of gun purchases.

This NRA “no electronic database” mantra was enshrined into law with the 1986 passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which forbids the government from creating any electronic database of gun ownership. In 2016, there were more than 25 million gun purchases, and federal law enforcement is forced to look for needles in haystacks when tracing gun purchases.

How about we pass legislation now to authorize the creation of a gun database? Because had there been one, a law enforcement agent getting a hotline tip could have easily checked the database to determine whether a teenager identified as a threat had purchased a gun.

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Julie A. Werner-Simon, Santa Monica

The writer is a former federal prosecutor and was deputy chief of the Organized Crime Task Force from 1990 to 1995.

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To the editor: Our thoughts and prayers go out to members of Congress who have sold their soul to the NRA. May they find their humanity again and start taking action to prevent these mass murders.

Terry Otsuki, San Clemente

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