With the shootings in
a high school in Colorado, a brokerage house in Atlanta and a
Jewish community center in Los Angeles, federal gun control has
become an important national issue. So when TRAC put up a new
web site showing that ATF enforcement had dropped by more than
a third during the Clinton years, reporters Eric Lichtblau and
Matt Lait saw the news potential. With TRAC's ATF web site as
their source for authoritative government data, Lichtblau in Washington
and Lait in Los Angeles pressed federal and local officials for
their explanations of why the ATF weapons effort was sharply down.
Their article led the Times on Sunday, August 29, 1999. Other
papers, like the Washington Post, also ran articles on the controversial
ATF slump. In his state of the union message five months later,
President Clinton called for a substantially enlarged federal
weapons program to reduce the trade in illegal weapons.