ATFE sets record straight
Bloomberg and his "mayors" have been claiming that the present ATFE budget rider somehow restricts ATFE from releasing trace data to local police (in fact, they're upset because it restricts releasing the data for purposes of their filing of civil suits against gunmakers, but they claim it impairs law enforcement use. Here's one example: "Dozens of mayors from around the country gathered Tuesday to urge the new Democratic Congress to fight crime by allowing wider tracking of illegal guns." Here's another: "When handguns with bullets that can pierce body armor showed up on the streets of New Jersey, Sen. Frank Lautenberg asked federal regulators to share data that could help local police figure out where the weapons were coming from. That information, the New Jersey Democrat was told, is off-limits....Insisting that gun trace data is an essential crimefighting tool for cities, Bloomberg used his own funds as seed money, formed Mayors Against Illegal Guns and made repealing Tiahrt's amendment its number one issue this year."
ATF director Michael Sullivan has released an Op-Ed setting the record straight:
"During the past several weeks, numerous questions and articles have arisen in the media, regarding the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to share firearms trace data among members of the law-enforcement community. With the recent tragic events surrounding the senseless criminal use of firearms; I felt the need to clarify this important issue.
Our agency routinely shares trace data with state and local law-enforcement agencies in support of investigations within their respective jurisdictions. Once a requesting agency receives law-enforcement-sensitive trace data from ATF, it becomes the agency's data to disseminate and share with other law-enforcement entities as it deems appropriate.
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."
[Hat tip to SAF email alerts]