ATF refutes Bloomberg’s lies

I have made no secret of my wish that the BATFE would go away, perhaps to oppress the people of some other country (I hear North Korea could always use more secret policemen). That being the case, I would never have expected to find myself applauding the words of their (acting) director, but that is exactly what I find myself doing in response to this piece.

As anyone following the gun rights vs. gun rights deprivation debate knows, a major priority for Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Coalition of Anti-gun Mayors is blocking the renewal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which helps protect gun trace data. Bloomberg and his sidekicks would have Americans believe that this somehow “handcuffs police” in their efforts to reduce violent crime. BATFE acting director Michael Sullivan refutes that assertion.

Let me be clear: neither the congressional language nor ATF rules prohibit the sharing of trace data with law enforcement conducting criminal investigations, or place any restrictions on the sharing of trace data with other jurisdictions once it is in the hands of state or local law enforcement. In fact, multi-jurisdictional trace data is also utilized by ATF and shared with fellow law-enforcement agencies to identify firearm-trafficking trends and leads. Additionally, nothing prohibits ATF from releasing our own reports that analyze trace-data trends that could be used by law enforcement.

In fact, according to Sullivan, widespread dissemination of this information would constitute a threat to investigations, and to the people involved in them.

ATF considers this information law-enforcement-sensitive because it is often the first investigative lead in a case. We treat it no differently than fingerprint matches and other crime-scene information, since disclosure outside of law enforcement can tip off criminals to the investigation, compromise cases and endanger the lives of undercover officers, witnesses and confidential sources.

So why is Bloomberg so hellbent on spreading this sensitive information hither and yon, possibly at the cost of lives? Because it is this information on which he bases his Junior G-Man “sting operations,” designed to harass gun dealers, and perhaps force them out of business.

I would prefer that gun trace information never be gathered at all, and I firmly believe that the government steps far beyond its Constitutional authority in requiring this information, but if such requirements are here to stay, then the information must at least be kept from those whose only use for it is attacking gun dealers.

In this debate, if in no other, the BATFE is the lesser of evils.

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