2006-06-01 / From The Mayor...

From The Mayor's Desk ...

Innovative Strategy to Rid Our Streets of Illegal Guns Today, even though New York is the safest big city in the nation, there are still far too many illegal guns on our streets. Nearly all of them arrive from out of state - and most are sold by a smal

Innovative Strategy to Rid Our Streets of Illegal Guns Today, even though New York is the safest big city in the nation, there are still far too many illegal guns on our streets. Nearly all of them arrive from out of state - and most are sold by a small group of rogue gun dealers who refuse to obey federal laws. At the beginning of this year, we announced that we would take our fight against illegal guns across state lines - and last week, we did just that. We filed suit in Federal court against 15 gun dealers after our undercover investigators caught them - on hidden cameras - breaking the federal laws regulating gun sales. The 15 dealers are in five states: Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We targeted them for a very good reason: their guns have ended up in the hands of New York City criminals far too often. In fact, between 1994 and 2001, more than 500 guns from these dealers were used in crimes in our city, including 20 murders or attempted murders. Most dealers carefully follow the law - and we have no quarrel with them. But there is a small group of bad apples who routinely ignore Federal regulations aimed at preventing black market gun traffickers. These traffickers buy guns in states that have lax laws and sell them on the streets of cities like New York - often profiting more than $1,000 per handgun. One of the stores that sold illegally to our undercover investigators was 'Cole's Gun Shop,' in South Boston, Virginia. We have traced many guns used in crimes in New York City back to Cole's, including one that was found, loaded, in the possession of a 15-year old.

Another gun sold at Cole's was confiscated from a student at Tottenville High School - luckily, before anyone was harmed.

It's appalling that irresponsible gun dealers are profiting from the sale of weapons that are used to kill innocent people, including police officers. But what has been going on in Congress is no less shocking.

Since 2002, Congress has been passing laws that restrict our ability to hold irresponsible gun dealers accountable by limiting our access to federal "trace data." That's the data that tells us where a gun recovered from a crime scene was bought. It's one of the best tools we have for determining which dealers are selling to gun traffickers, and our lawsuit would not have been possible without it. But now, some in Congress want to further restrict our use of this valuable resource.

Imagine - prohibiting law enforcement agencies from using information they need to do their jobs! It's outrageous, and that's why last Tuesday, one day after we filed our lawsuit, I joined Senator Chuck Schumer in Washington to support a bill he is introducing that would ensure cities and states have the ability to use this all-important trace data in order to hold irresponsible gun dealers accountable. This has nothing to do with ideology or the 2 nd Amendment. This is about law enforcement - making sure that dealers are following Federal laws.

In our fight to take illegal guns off our streets, we are using every tool at our disposal. We have developed a three-pronged strategy - stronger law enforcement, tougher legislation, and innovative litigation. It's not an easy fight, but we can not afford to back down - and we won't.

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