Thursday, July 12, 2007

NRA , Bloomberg, Mayors, Anti-Gun Coalition Spar over Protecting Gun Dealers

Bloomberg and others spoke out against the Tiahrt Amendment, a rider on the Justice Department appropriations bill since 2003 that bars police from using ownership traces by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for far-reaching investigations.

Instead, police can use the traces only for a specific criminal investigation. And under a new version of the amendment passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, cops who use the traces for other purposes would now face jail.

The House version of the Tiahrt Amendment is up for a vote this week in the House Appropriations Committee.

The National Rifle Association recently welcomed committee passage of the Senate version, saying sharing information about traces would endanger undercover officers, damage ongoing criminal investigations, and could be used by politicians against firearms dealers.

Bloomberg disagreed. "The Tiahrt Amendment is the most anti-cop, soft-on-crime laws Congress has passed in years," he said. "Can you imagine if Congress put the same constraints on police who investigate drug sales? No one would stand for it. ... The gun lobby has hoodwinked many members of Congress."

The gathering came a day after two New York City police officers were shot during a traffic stop in Brooklyn. While the source of the weapons used in that shooting has not been determined, Bloomberg and others connected the incident with the legislation, saying it was a reminder to him of the tragedies guns can cause.

Sharing gun trace information in wider police investigations can be crucial in establishing gun trafficking patterns, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), a gun control advocate, said individual members of groups like the NRA may oppose the legislation, but lobbyists have succeeded in renewing the amendment each year.

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