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Ashcroft Gun Plan Draws Fire

Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Attorney General John Ashcroft's idea to throw away all the criminal background check information on gun buyers just one day after their purchase, is suddenly running into a lot of opposition from law enforcement.

This week two groups, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said they simply need more time to check sales records for criminal activity.

"It's an opportunity to double check maybe even triple check or evaluate any glitches in the system," said Sgt. Marc Lawson of the International Brotherhood of Police.

CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports the FBI, too, under former Director Louis Freeh, is on record asking that the records be kept for a minimum of 90 days, which is the current rule. And sources say the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms was never consulted about the change and disagrees with Ashcroft.

Follow The Paper Trail
  • Click here to read a letter from the NRA to John Ashcroft asking for his view on the Second Amendment.

  • Click here to read Ashcroft's response to the NRA.

  • Click here to read a letter from Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General, on the Second Amendment.
  • Still, Ashcroft's proposal is just one of several recent Bush administration initiatives championed by the gun lobby. Earlier this month Under Secretary of State John Bolton opposed a small arms agreement at the U.N. on the grounds it would constrain arms sales by U.S. firms.

    "The United States believes that the responsible use of firearms is a legitimate aspect of national life," said Bolton.

    While earlier, in a letter to the National Rifle Association, Ashcroft eagerly agreed with the NRA's constitutional interpretation of gun ownership rights — a view critics believe will only inspire more challenges to current gun control laws.

    It's all enough to cheer the heart of any gun lobbyist. An NRA vice president had predicted last year that if Bush won the group "would work out of the White House." This kind of early success, however, has to exceed even the NRA's wildest dreams.

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