- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2007

Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday traded shots about the legal hoops the Big Apple must jump through before sticking its nose in the commonwealth’s gun-control business.

The rift between the Republicans started after New York City officials sued 27 gun dealers, including six in Virginia, for selling guns to undercover agents through illegal “straw purchases” in which one person legally fills out a form and buys a gun for someone else.

Last month, Mr. McDonnell sent Mr. Bloomberg a letter warning him that as of July 1 a new Virginia law would outlaw New York from sending undercover agents into the state to illegally purchase guns.

The feud flared again yesterday when Mr. McDonnell’s office issued a press release thanking Mr. Bloomberg’s office for “a distinct change … for now agreeing to recognize and abide by Virginia law in future law-enforcement actions.”

Mr. McDonnell’s office cited a news report in which Mr. Bloomberg’s office said Virginia State Police would now be notified of stings targeting illegal gun sales.

“I appreciate that the mayor has pressing public safety concerns in New York City, and I will be delighted to work with New York officials to help address legitimate criminal justice matters,” Mr. McDonnell said.

However, the response from Mr. Bloomberg’s office seemed to say Mr. McDonnell was jumping the gun.

“We will not for one second back away from our tough law-enforcement efforts against illegal guns, which have made New York the safest big city in the country,” Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post told The Washington Times.

“We caught gun dealers on video tape flagrantly violating the law,” Mr. Post said. “We wish that the attorney general would put as much time into enforcing the laws already on the books as he does on issuing press releases and engaging in needless turf battles.”

Meanwhile, the Virginia Civil Defense League has been raising money to help local gun dealers pay the mounting legal fees from the lawsuits.

On Thursday night, the league will hold a “Bloomberg Gun GiveAway” at the Mason Government Center in Annandale.

Through March 31, customers who shelled out $100 or more at specific Virginia gun shops received a raffle ticket that could win them anything from a $1,000 Webber gas grill to a 9 mm handgun.

The league Web site says attendees also will be able to “enjoy cake, chips, dip and soft drinks as we draw the winning tickets.”

More than 2,500 tickets were sold, representing more than $250,000 in sales.

The drawing was originally scheduled for April 16, but was postponed after Seung-hui Cho, 23, gunned down 32 students and faculty and then fatally shot himself on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.

As for Mr. Bloomberg, who has said the group comprises “sick people,” he cannot participate.

The official contest rules, in a swipe at the mayor, make Mr. Bloomberg and his immediate family members ineligible for the drawing.

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