- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More than 120 of the nation’s mayors urged Congress yesterday to allow federal and local law enforcement to share gun database tracking information in an effort to curtail the illegal sale of firearms.

City executives said they have run out of options to keep guns off their streets. Gun-buyback programs and stings on vendors who violate laws haven’t solved the problem, they said.

Mayors Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Thomas M. Merino of Boston, who in April formed a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have crafted a policy agenda for Congress.

They are attempting to avoid serious conflicts with pro-gun groups, sportsmen and advocates of the Second Amendment, which protects Americans’ right to bear arms.

“Gun owners support common-sense policies to keep illegal guns off our streets. This is not a Second Amendment issue; this is a crime issue,” Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday during a coalition meeting in Washington. “The fact is, respecting the rights of gun owners while cracking down on illegal guns are completely compatible goals.”

The mayors are asking lawmakers to allow the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to share gun registry information with city and state police forces. Conservative Republicans who oppose additional laws restricting gun purchases and ownership call the idea an undue intrusion on privacy rights.

An appropriations bill that passed in 2003 included an earmark amendment submitted by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Kansas Republican, that limited the type of gun-tracing information that the ATF could share with police.

Some Republicans now are joining Democrats to support removal of that policy.

The mayors yesterday also announced the creation of a congressional task force that will study gun violence and recommend solutions to curb illegal gun sales.

The committee will include Reps. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat; John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat; Peter T. King, New York Republican; and Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican.

“Death by illegal guns doesn’t show any racial, partisan, political or religious grounds. It is a national problem that has to be addressed,” Mr. King said.

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