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Bloomberg Crusade Continues -- Opposition Mounts

Friday, June 16, 2006

As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) continues his crusade against law-abiding gun owners, the chorus of those criticizing his approach has grown louder.

On June 5, Bloomberg proposed to the city council a package of gun control measures, that included, among other proposals, measures to limit lawful handgun purchases to one every 90 days and a ban on what the mayor dubs "gun coloration" kits. These proposals are fast on the heels of Bloomberg’s testimony in Congress and media tour in opposition to federal pro-gun legislation that would restrict use of BATFE trace data to bolster politically-motivated lawsuits against firearm dealers.

While rationing the rights of law abiding citizens to purchase only a single handgun every three months is anathema to our constitutionally-protected freedom (imagine a law restricting church attendance or writing a letter to the editor to once every 90 days), it is also ineffective, as evidenced by South Carolina repealing its 30-day gun rationing law.

As for the mayor’s proposal to ban DuraCoat, a.k.a. paint, The Chippewa Herald (June 13) reports that Steve Lauer, who owns the company that produces the gun finishing product, doesn’t even sell the product in New York City, finding only two customers in the Big Apple in his records. The product is often used by search and rescue teams to aid them in retrieving dropped firearms. As Lauer opined, "Our customers are all avid hunters, and law enforcement, not gang bangers. We’re not getting orders from New York City. If all they want to do is change the color, they can do that with a "$1.99 can of spray paint from the hardware store."

Among the mayor’s other publicity stunts was a series of sting operations of out-of-state gun dealers by private investigators. In the June 5 edition of the New York Sun, Wally Nelson, former BATFE deputy assistant director, let the mayor and the Sun’s readers know what he thought about this undertaking. Calling this undercover operation an "embarrassment," Nelson noted that Bloomberg "sent amateurs off to play ‘cops,’ without bothering to coordinate with the [BATFE] or his own police department."

In addition to Nelson’s accusations of amateurism, he noted the danger this stunt posed to law enforcement: "[the sting] has jeopardized over a dozen ongoing criminal investigations, putting law enforcement officers at risk….. The ill-considered use of trace data -- like conducting private investigations -- can be dangerous."

Nelson’s professional recommendation on releasing the sensitive trace data that Bloomberg so eagerly wants to aid his litigation --"These restrictions must remain in place to prevent ATF’s national firearms trace database from being misused in the public domain" Incidentally, this opinion was shared by the mayor’s own Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, who noted similar concerns four years ago when he wrote the U.S. Attorney General that releasing this information "seriously jeopardizes not only the investigations, but also the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses, and others." Also adding its voice to this chorus of opposition is the Fraternal Order of Police, whose National President, Chuck Canterbury, wrote in May of its "strong support" for federal legislation to "prohibit disclosure of firearms trace data by the [BATFE]…to non-law enforcement entities."

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