The federal government will not file criminal charges against any of the 15 out-of-state gun dealers accused by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a federal lawsuit of selling guns illegally, the New York Daily News reports. In a stern rebuke to the city’s crusade against illegal guns, the feds warned the Bloomberg administration that it could face “potential legal liabilities” if it continues to conduct sting operations that fall within the jurisdiction of federal agents. The city followed up its initial case with a suit against 12 more dealers.
The city sent private investigators to gun dealers and secretly videotaped them making what Bloomberg called illegal “straw purchases.” In such cases, an individual talks with a store clerk about purchasing a gun, but then gets another person to fill out the required federal forms and undergo the mandatory background check. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and various U.S. attorneys’ offices determined the city’s findings against the 15 dealers “do not rise to a level that would support a criminal prosecution.” Michael Battle of the Justice Department’s executive office for United States Attorneys scolded New York City for engaging in sting operations involving persons “without proper law enforcement authority,” saying that the city could “unintentionally interrupt or jeopardize” criminal probes.