By Heidi Przybyla – May 8, 2013 12:58 PM ET
Photographer: Darren McCollester/Getty Images
The investigation of the Boston bombings is the latest example of how the firearms lobby has helped weaken U.S. laws governing the collection and distribution of information vital to tracking weapons and spotting gun trafficking.
In the April 15 Boston bombing, a manhunt for the killers that lasted days could have taken just hours if the explosives fragments littering the scene had contained taggants, law enforcement veterans say. Authorities may never be able to track the gun used to kill a transit police officer because its external identification number was worn down.
Police racing to solve the Boston Marathon bombing were prevented from using existing technology to identify the source of the black powder in the explosives that killed three and injured more than 260. They’ve also been unable to trace the gun used to kill a police officer.
In both cases an urgent investigation — where more lives could have been in danger — was hindered because of a decades-long campaign by the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress to prevent the collection of data about guns and ammunition, former law enforcement officials say.