New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a Congressional panel yesterday that a “god-awful piece of legislation” before the House of Representatives would cripple the city’s ability to combat gun trafficking and “result in the shooting deaths of innocent people,” the New York Times reports. Bloomberg, a Republican, was testifying at the request of Democrats. The mayor has made taking on the gun industry a central theme of his second term. The bill in question would prohibit disclosure of any records from a national gun-trace database in civil lawsuits and allow the records to be released only “in a bona fide criminal investigation or prosecution.” The data, maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, includes the sales history of guns that law enforcement agencies want to trace. Often, those guns were used in crimes.
Bloomberg told the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security that illegal guns were used in 300 of the 540 New York City homicides last year, and that 82 percent of the guns used in crimes in the city were bought outside the state. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fl.), said the firearms bureau already had “a very rigid zero-tolerance policy” toward dealers who violate the terms of their licenses, a view the city disputes. The intent of the gun-trace system “is not to allow civil litigation nor to allow cities to track down unlicensed gun dealers elsewhere, it was to solve crime,” Feeney said. Richard Gardiner, a former lawyer for the National Rifle Association who supports the bill, said the mayor’s logic was flawed because “the vast majority of guns that are traced are not crime guns.”