Bloomberg Tells Tiahrt to Quit Complaining

Michael Bloomberg is keeping up his assault on the federal amendment that he says is an unnecessary restriction that keeps police officers from tracking gun purchasing information that could help them solve crimes.

On his weekly radio address this morning, Bloomberg said of the Tiahrt amendment, which is named after the Kansas Congressman who wrote it, “The only thing it’s designed to do, this amendment, is to keep cops from using this information they need to find where guns are coming from and stop guns in the hands of criminals. It has nothing to do with hunters. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment or anything else. Plain and simple, the only beneficiaries of this amendment called the Tiahrt amendment named after the Wichita congressman, Todd Tiahrt, is that it helps criminals by hurting police officers to do the job…”

Later, referring to ads that his anti-gun advocacy group has on the air, Bloomberg said, “Tiahrt called me and said this is an outrage. You can’t run this in my district. He said how would you feel if they ran ads against you in New York And I said, Todd, I got the PBA, the UFT, the UFA, they’re out there every day.”

“If you can’t stand the criticism maybe you are doing something wrong.”

In reaction, Tiahrt's communication director, Chuck Knapp, told me the congressman’s amendment is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, and repeated a claim Tiahrt has made in the past that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly supported the amendment back in 2002 and 2003.

A spokesman for Kelly denies that he ever supported the Tiahrt amendment, and referred me to the following 2004 letter to the editor in the New York Times:

To the Editor:

I take issue with a statement in a May 21 news article that the police commissioner ''took a position that undercut the argument of the city's civil lawyers'' in New York City's case against gun makers and distributors. In fact, the Police Department supports the lawsuit and has been working with the Law Department on this case since its inception.

The police commissioner's letter in 2002 to Attorney General John Ashcroft, which you mention, addressed a ruling of a federal court in Chicago that would have permitted unrestricted release to the public of the firearms trace database maintained by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. New York City has sought access to that same information under the very different, guarded conditions of a judicial protective order.

Throughout the case, the Police Department and city lawyers have worked together to assure achievement of two goals: requiring gun makers and distributors to adopt responsible marketing and distribution practices, while maintaining the confidentiality of law enforcement information.

STEPHEN L. HAMMERMAN

Deputy Commissioner for Legal

Matters, New York Police Dept.

New York, May 21, 2004