SOURCE: National Shooting Sports Foundation

March 28, 2006 18:27 ET

Statement by NSSF on Mayor Bloomberg's Comments Regarding Traced Gun Data

NEWTOWN, CT -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 28, 2006 -- The firearms industry dismissed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's comments at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing today, saying there are good reasons why Congress does not allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to make available to the public sensitive information about sales records of guns used in crimes.

The firearms industry supports HR 5005, a bill introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that would make permanent a prohibition against sharing traced gun data except for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Although Bloomberg criticized the legislation, a Congressional appropriations committee in 2005 said that releasing the information to the public would only jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations and could endanger law enforcement officers, informants and witnesses.

"Our industry shares the mayor's goal of reducing the criminal misuse of firearms, but we think that is best accomplished by not placing law enforcement in danger by releasing this data outside of law enforcement," said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.

"We do not understand why Mayor Bloomberg supports disclosure of sensitive law enforcement data that places law enforcement at risk, especially when his own police commissioner opposes the disclosure of this data," added Keane.

In a 2002 letter to the U.S. Attorney General, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly expressed the same concerns that Congress did in its 2005 report regarding the release of trace data.

Kelly wrote, "Such a result clearly would be catastrophic for law enforcement, would compromise national security, and would signal the end of the trace program, as law enforcement agencies would no longer be able to rely on the current ability to share critical information confidentially."

Keane made clear that law enforcement agencies are currently able to use the data without the worry of it being made public.

"The act of Congress in no way prevents law enforcement from having access to trace data on recovered firearms for appropriate use in connection with bona fide law enforcement purposes," Keane said. "The firearms industry is proud of its longstanding cooperative relationship with law enforcement. We accept what Congress has said -- that it is genuinely concerned that the disclosure of this information holds the potential of endangering law enforcement officers and witnesses and of jeopardizing ongoing criminal investigations and homeland security."

Bloomberg wants the data not for law enforcement purposes but to launch civil suits against dealers simply because they have sold firearms later recovered by police and traced by ATF. "The mayor wrongly assumed every gun recovered and traced was illegally sold by a dealer. That is simply not true, as ATF has repeatedly cautioned. A trace standing alone is evidence of nothing; it may -- or may not -- be the beginning of a criminal investigation," said Keane.

Keane pointed out that the recently passed Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does not prevent civil suits against dealers that illegally sell firearms.

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Lawrence G. Keane
    Office: (203) 426-1320
    Cell: (203) 526-6773