July 17, 2007 By News Report
Photo: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg
The bi-partisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns last Tuesday stood on Capitol Hill with law enforcement officials and members of Congress to urge the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment. The event came on the eve of a vote in the House Appropriations Committee. The mayors oppose the Tiahrt Amendment, named after Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt who has sponsored it, because of how it restricts the access of cities and law enforcement to gun trace data, an essential crime fighting tool. The removal of the Tiahrt Amendment is the top legislative priority of the over 225-member Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who led last week's event.
The Tiahrt Amendment, a version of which has been inserted into the Department of Justice appropriations bill each year since Fiscal Year 2003, places broad restrictions on the use of gun trace data, which gives investigators information on where a gun was purchased and who it was sold to. The Tiahrt Amendment also prevents local governments and police from accessing federal gun trace data from areas outside their immediate geographic jurisdiction; prevents cities from using trace data in state and local civil enforcement actions, including gun license revocations; and prevents the ATF from publishing reports that use gun trace data to analyze nationwide gun trafficking patterns.
"The Tiahrt Amendment is the most anti-cop, soft-on-crime law Congress has passed in years," said Mayor Bloomberg. "It prevents our police officers from tracking the illegal gun trade - and locking up those who engage in it. Imagine if Congress put the same constraints on police when investigating illegal drug sales -- no one would stand for it. The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on a bill that currently includes the Tiahrt Amendment. If the bill is passed, it would be an insult to thousands of police officers who face the threat of illegal guns."
"Mayors from across the country, who are on the front lines of public safety, are saying enough is enough," said Menino. "It is time Washington stopped ignoring the violence caused by illegal guns every day. We need to stop protecting rogue gun dealers and start protecting our police by removing the Tiahrt Amendment and the restrictions it imposes on law enforcement."
The Mayors' campaign to remove the Tiahrt Amendment enjoys wide support from law enforcement. Thirty-four national, state and regional law enforcement organizations have come out against the Tiahrt Amendment - including the National Sheriffs' Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and the Texas Association of Chiefs of Police. Further, 28 newspaper editorial boards are on the record opposing the Tiahrt Amendment, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Indianapolis Star, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune and the Wichita Eagle - the hometown paper of Representative Tiahrt. Also, 212 law enforcement executives have come out against the Tiahrt Amendment on behalf of their jurisdictions.
"The police in Chicago and every other city are working day and night to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, and they need help -- not hindrance -- from their senators and representatives in Washington, D.C.," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. "I can't believe that anyone who's in favor of law and order would want to tie the hands of our police when it comes to tracing the guns used in crimes. Instead of protecting the gun lobby, Congress should be protecting the people of this nation from the gun violence that claims the lives of 30,000 of their constituents each year."