March 25, 2010

Bloomberg to Obama: Get Going on Taking Guns Away

( report from a national coalition of mayors urges President Obama to adopt dozens of gun registration and confiscation measures, including the creation of a federal interstate firearms trafficking unit.

After months of waiting in vain for gun control supporters in Congress to take aggressive action against semi-automatic firearms, gun shows and NRA-supported restrictions on the abuse of instant background check records and firearm trace information, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging President Obama to make 40 changes to federal gun law interpretation and enforcement on his own-without congressional approval.

Bloomberg conveyed his recommendations to the president through the euphemistically named anti-gun coalition he heads, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the NRA reports.

Titled "A Blueprint for Federal Action" and released only in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the 51-page Bloomberg battle plan takes another cue from the military in calling for its mission to be carried out jointly by seven federal departments and agencies: the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security, the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The first six agencies are wholly under President Obama's command, while the CPSC is an independent agency headed by commissioners nominated by the president.

The "Blueprint for Federal Action," a copy of which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, presents 40 recommendations that would dramatically curtail firearms freedoms.

The proposed changes could be accomplished within existing laws through agency reforms, regulatory moves and better funding, the report said. The strategies grew out of academic and government research, an analysis of firearms prosecutions and talks with government and law enforcement officials.

"The mayor's coalition created this document for policy discussion," said Jason Post, a spokesman for Bloomberg's office. There were no plans for public release of the document, which was distributed to key members of Obama's administration and agencies affected by the recommendations.

The 51-page document suggests a handful of strategies that would tighten ATF oversight of thousands of gun shows held annually. The study noted that a 2007 inspector general's probe concluded the "ATF does not have a formal gun show enforcement program."

ATF agents at gun shows should "develop undercover integrity tests" to determine whether felons or out-of-state residents are making illegal purchases.

The report also calls for a better approach to crime gun tracing, the process that tracks a seized weapon back to its first retail sale. The ATF lacks the structure or resources to "fully realize its power," the report says, and information is not regularly shared with field offices, and state and local law enforcement.

To this end, the study wants ATF to be funded to create a new "Office of Tactical Trace Analysis," which would replace the current crime gun analysis branch.