Firearms Industry Responds to Mayor Bloomberg's Latest Anti-Gun Efforts
April 13, 2007
Sadly but not surprisingly, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has once again distorted the facts surrounding an important piece of legislation designed to protect law enforcement. The Tiahrt Amendment, while restricting access of firearms tracing data to the general public, does not, as Mayor Bloomberg contends, restrict law enforcement from either accessing or sharing the sensitive information.
The best argument for restricting public access of firearms tracing data is Mayor Bloomberg's own conduct. Last spring the mayor had the New York City police department inappropriately obtain trace data for use in preparing a civil lawsuit. He turned the data over to private investigators who conducted so-called sting operations of out-of-state federally licensed firearms dealers. He did so without the knowledge of either ATF or his own police department. As a result, he interfered with as many as 18 ongoing criminal investigations, jeopardizing the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses and others.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated the mayor and his private detectives and admonished him in a strongly worded letter to his criminal justice coordinator. The DOJ warned the mayor that he would face "potential legal liabilities" if he did not stop his clandestine investigations immediately because such actions "jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations." The response by Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, stating that the city would not necessarily end these stings, was a stunning admission of Mayor Bloomberg's true motives.
Protecting the integrity of criminal investigations and the lives of law enforcement officers and witnesses is precisely why the DOJ, ATF and law enforcement groups, such as the national Fraternal Order of Police, support restricting public access to this trace data.
When it authorized further restrictions on the access and use of gun trace data, Congress correctly understood that this information was a crime-fighting tool intended solely for use by law enforcement and that, in the wrong hands, it could be recklessly misused. Mayor Bloomberg's misguided crusade underscores Congress' wisdom in imposing these restrictions, which must be reauthorized.
Lawrence G. Keane
Senior Vice President
and General Counsel
The National Shooting Sports Foundation
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association of the firearms industry.