The federal agency that regulates firearms says the city of Chicago crossed a line by issuing a report providing granular detail about guns used in crimes, including the names of stores that have sold a disproportionate share of those weapons. The Chicago Trace Report, released on Sunday, runs “contrary to federal law,” said Mary Markos of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and constitutes “a prohibited use of the data,” reports The Trace. The law in question is the Tiahrt amendment, passed by Congress in 2003. It prohibits ATF from using any federal funding to disclose trace data — information that helps police identify where a firearm was sold and who bought it — except in aggregate statistical reports. It does not address whether local authorities are also subject to its restrictions.
Adam Collins, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago contested the ATF’s conclusion and suggested the bureau was motivated by the post-election political climate. “This is just classic,” he said. “The Trump administration is arguing it would be better to hide the facts on the deadly effects of gun trafficking than partner on a solution? Well, burying your head in the sand won’t change the truth and it won’t solve the problem.” The ATF has long discouraged law enforcement agencies from releasing trace data. Last year, ATF spokesman Brian Garner said cities like Chicago “can do with the [Trace] data whatever they want.” Markos now says her colleague “misspoke.”