Don't Buy Claims About Tiahrt Gun Amendment
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Don't Buy Claims About Tiahrt Gun
by Chuck Canterbury, National President of
the Fraternal Order of Police
Some of America's mayors, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New
York City and Thomas M. Menino of Boston, would like you to believe
that their Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition is about fighting
illegal firearms in their cities and across the country.
The principal goal of this coalition is the repeal of language
that has repeatedly been passed into law for the past several years
that prevents information on gun traces collected by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from being given to
mayors pursuing civil litigation suits against firearm dealers and
manufacturers. The mayors would have you believe that law
enforcement supports giving them the information on gun traces
because many of their employees--namely police chiefs, who often
serve at the pleasure of the mayor--have publicly backed their
But the officers in the field who are actually working illegal
gun cases know that releasing sensitive information about pending
cases can jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or even
place the lives of undercover officers in danger. That is why the
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has always supported language
protecting firearm trace data, now known as the Tiahrt Amendment.
For the men and women in uniform who are fighting illegal guns, it
is a matter of officer safety and good police work.
In media reports last year, law enforcement sources
cited that as many as four cases were compromised and an additional
14 were put at risk by private in In media reports last
year, law enforcement sources cited that as many as four cases were
compromised and an additional 14 were put at risk by private
investigators employed by New York City who acted on the basis of
ATF itself has repeatedly gone to court to fight the release of
its data, because the release can have a negative effect on its
efforts to investigate illegal gun trafficking and threaten the
safety of officers and witnesses.
In media reports last year, law enforcement sources cited that
as many as four cases were compromised and an additional 14 were
put at risk by private investigators employed by New York City who
acted on the basis of trace data. In this case, the investigators
conducted "sting" operations in support of the city's civil suit
against several gun stores that had been identified through firearm
trace data. As a result, several gun trafficking suspects under
investigation by law enforcement changed their behavior to avoid
scrutiny and criminal indictment. This is exactly the type of
interference that caused the FOP to originally support language
restricting the use of the data to law enforcement entities
only--not cities engaged in lawsuits.
Bad actors trafficking in illegal guns should be arrested,
prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. If these mayors really want to
make a contribution to the investigation and apprehension of those
who illegally traffic in--and criminally misuse--firearms, they
should use their political clout to secure additional funding for
ATF, instead of trying to develop a shadow enforcement program.
Firearm trace data is collected by ATF for public safety, not
for civil litigation.
We urge members of Congress to continue to support the Tiahrt
Amendment. Let's send the bad guys to jail, not civil court.
-- published in the Wichita
Eagle on April 24, 2007