July 7, 2007
VIA FACSIMILE and U.S. MAIL
(212) 788 – 2460
Hon. Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor of the City of New York
New York, NY 10007
Re: Resignation from Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
Upon careful review of your statements and actions, listening to the concerns of many of my constituents and receiving communications from and speaking with officials at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearm industry's trade association, I hereby, effective immediately, resign my membership in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition (MAIG).
I joined your coalition because of its purported purpose to combat the criminal acquisition and misuse of guns, which is a goal shared by all Americans. Regrettably, it has become abundantly clear to me that you are using this coalition of mayors to advance a hidden agenda of bringing lawsuits against members of the firearms industry and spreading anti-gun propaganda.
It is simply unconscionable that this coalition, under your leadership, would call for a repeal of the Shelby /Tiahrt amendment that helps to safeguard criminal investigations and the lives of law enforcement officers, witnesses and others by restricting access to firearms trace data solely to law enforcement. How anyone, least of all a public official, could be willing to sacrifice such a law enforcement lifeline in order to gain an edge in suing an industry they have political differences with is repugnant to me. The fact that your campaign against this protective language consisted of overheated rhetoric, deception and falsehoods is disturbing. In a recent editorial entitled "Setting the Record Straight," ATF Acting Director Sullivan repudiated your long-held mantra that the current legislation forbids law enforcement from sharing trace data. In clearing up this mistruth, Acting Director Sullivan stated, "Let me be clear: neither the congressional language nor ATF rules prohibit the sharing of trace data with law enforcement conducting criminal investigations, or place any restrictions on the sharing of trace data with other jurisdictions once it is in the hands of state or local law enforcement."
According to ATF and the Department of Justice, your actions in having civilian private investigators conduct clandestine sting operations against federally licensed firearms dealers, without the knowledge of ATF or your own police department, actually interfered with ongoing criminal investigations, putting the lives of law enforcement officers and others at risk. The Department of Justice warned you to refrain from these actions because such efforts could "interrupt or jeopardize ongoing investigations." In response, your Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler stated that the operations would not necessarily stop. I do not want the blood of a police officer on my hands so that you can advance your anti-gun litigation campaign. I prefer instead to support the Fraternal Order of Police, a group that opposes your coalition's efforts to gain access to gun trace data for use in civil lawsuits. If a federally licensed firearms dealer is engaged in criminal activities it is the job of law enforcement, chiefly ATF – which works closely with state and local law enforcement agencies – to investigate and arrest those that would abuse their license for criminal purposes. Instead of supporting ATF I have learned recently that you and your criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt have repeatedly insulted the Bureau, saying it was "asleep at the switch" and that "ATF does not take its mission seriously." I will not be associated with such inappropriate behavior.
While re-examining my participation in MAIG I learned of several instances, all well documented, in which you actually rebuffed the efforts of the firearms industry – a community that has repeatedly shown its willingness to work with federal, state and local authorities on programs to curb criminal access of guns. This is indeed disconcerting. Perhaps if you had allowed NSSF to address the coalition we would have learned about some of their proven programs. One such program, called Don't Lie for the Other Guy, seems to be a productive and legal way of working with firearms retailers to better educate them about recognizing would-be straw purchasers. The program, done in conjunction with ATF, also has a public relations component that warns residents in targeted areas of the severe penalties associated with straw purchasing firearms.
Mayor Bloomberg, I can only hope that you will see my departure and the recent departure of other mayors from your coalition as a sign that things must change. We are all on the same side when it comes to stopping criminals from getting guns. Where you lose me is in your true quest – to end lawful firearms ownership and destroy a lawful American industry.
Mayor, Oldmans Township, N.J.