FLASH: Mayor Bloomberg brings gun show "investigators" to Ohio - issues questionable report on guns

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made headlines in recent weeks after several Ohio mayors quit his gun control front group (with many saying they were misled, and others saying they had never agreed to join the first place), has announced the results of an investigation of seven gun shows in Ohio, Tennessee and Nevada.

Bloomberg used New York City tax dollars to fund what amounts to a personal investigation, which he claims proves "just how easy it is for criminals and the mentally ill to walk in and buy guns -- no questions asked."

"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has identified gun shows as the source of more than 30% of all illegally trafficked guns in the country," said Bloomberg today. "Those are the guns most likely to be used in crimes -- and to kill innocent people, including police officers."

Bloomberg's claims, however, do not agree with established facts.

FACT: Mayor Bloomberg's statistic of "30% of crime guns come from gun shows" is a complete fabrication. They carefully refer to it as "ATF estimate." They use this statistic twice in his PDF and multiple times in the news conference. Yet recommendations in Bloomberg's report include "have the ATF keep track of guns that come from gun shows." (page 29) ATF has no basis for that estimate. Here are some hard figures:

Gun Shows Are Not a Source of "Crime Guns"

  • A 2006 FBI study of criminals who attacked law enforcement officers found that within their sample, "None of the [attackers'] rifles, shotguns, or handguns … were obtained from gun shows or related activities." Ninety-seven percent of guns in the study were obtained illegally, and the assailants interviewed had nothing but contempt for gun laws. As one offender put it, "[T]he 8,000 new gun laws would have made absolutely [no difference], whatsoever, about me getting a gun. … I never went into a gun store or to a gun show or to a pawn shop or anyplace else where firearms are legally bought and sold."[1]
  • A Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report on "Firearms Use by Offenders" found that fewer than 1% of U.S. "crime guns" came from gun shows, with repeat offenders even less likely than first-timers to buy guns from any retail source. This 2001 study was based on interviews with 18,000 state prison inmates and is the largest such study ever conducted by the government.[2]
  • Previous federal studies have found few criminals using gun shows. A 2000 BJS study, "Federal Firearms Offenders, 1992-98," found only 1.7% of federal prison inmates obtained their gun from a gun show.[3] Similarly, a 1997 National Institute of Justice study reported less than 2% of criminals' guns come from gun shows.[7]

FACT: Mayor Bloomberg repeatedly refers to "illegal" sales, either for straw purchases or for people who said they couldn't pass background check. If those sales are "illegal," then there are no "loopholes," and what is needed is enforcement, which Bloomberg has made painfully clear is so easy. No new laws are needed.

FACT: ATF trace data for 2008 shows that the states that Bloomberg touts as having closed the "loophole" actually supply the same or more guns to New York crime scenes, showing that the laws don't have impact. In his "Iron Pipeline" talk about the guns from Virginia and Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is listed in his materials as having closed the loophole.

FACT: Mayor Bloomberg is mayor of New York City, and has no authority beyond those borders. What he is doing is committing complicity and conspiracy to illegal sales.

FACT: The legislation proposed by Bloomberg's gun control front group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), has nothing to do with requiring private sales to be screened. What it does have to do with is putting gun shows out of existence. Gun show promoters would be required to register with the Attorney General of the United States, send fingerprints etc. They would be required to send to the AG a list of everyone who would be conducting sales at the show 30 days in advance. It would require the promoter to send the name, address and serial number for each transaction to the AG. Gun Registration. See the legislation here. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.2324:

FACT: The "private sellers" that he complains were not in the casual business but were full time sellers. However, under Clinton the number of Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) was cut in half, largely due to the requirement for a "storefront" in order to be a FFL. Some of these people WERE FFLs. Some of these people WOULD BE FFLs. But the ATF won't license them because of the Clinton requirement for a storefront.

[1] Anthony J. Pinizzotto, et al., Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers 53 (Aug. 2006).
[2] Caroline Wolf Harlow, Firearm Use by Offenders 6 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nov. 2001).
[3] John Scalia, Federal Firearm Offenders, 1992-98 10 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2000).
[4] Pamela K. Lattimore, et al., Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities: Trends, Context and Policy Implications 99 (Dec. 1997).

Media Coverage:

Cincinnati Enquirer - Stings expose 'gun show loophole'

State Rep. Tyrone Yates, D-Walnut Hills, who is chairman of the House criminal justice committee, said he will introduce a bill to close what he called a "loophole" in Ohio law.

He said everyone should have to undergo the same background check.

"So many guns are freely available, particularly from gun shows where there are absolutely no requirements for purchase that it is against the public interest in that there are a lot of transactions by people who would shy away from buying a gun at a gun store if they had to produce good identification," Yates said.

...Sharonville police were not aware of the undercover investigation the release of the 36-page report.

Sharonville Police Chief Michael Schappa said the investigative team never contacted the department.

"It would have been nice to know so we could have assisted and gathered evidence if they were concerned about criminal activity," Schappa said. "If they do have evidence, I hope they plan to turn it over."

Schappa said his department has not had any problems at the Sharonville gun shows.

"People who are uncertain should err on the side of caution rather than trying to quickly make a sale," Schappa said.

Collin Rink, Cincinnati Region Leader for the Buckeye Firearms Association, a group that defends Ohioans' rights to keep and bear arms, said buying and selling guns is no different than any other property and thus buyers should not be subjected to background checks.

He took Bloomberg to task for the investigation.

"I suppose as elected official, he can try to use whatever influence he has, but the influence he has in Ohio is pretty much none," Rink said.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - NYC's Bloomberg blasts gun shows in Ohio, elsewhere

Jim Irvine of the pro-gun Buckeye Firearms Association said Wednesday afternoon that he hadn't read the report yet, but added that it's easy to dismiss Bloomberg as an extremist who "fabricates and distorts the facts" to push a "hack-job, half-truth" anti-gun agenda.

Gun shows are "absolutely a good thing," Irvine said. "What's bad is when people break the law, and those people should be punished."

His organization also cited a 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics report based on interviews with 18,000 state prison inmates. Less than 1 percent said their "crime guns" came from gun shows, the Buckeye Firearms statement said.

Columbus Dispatch - NYC mayor's crusade finds lax gun shows in Ohio

"Obviously (the report) points out a situation that is problematic," said Rep. Ted Celeste, D-Grandview Heights, whose district includes Westland. "The whole issue of having the background checks is to avoid having the guns get in the wrong hands. The gun-show loophole is real, as this points out."

Gun-rights supporters say there is no need for more laws.

"No one condones gun sellers breaking the law," said Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "But the argument that there is a loophole is not correct. If current laws were enforced, there wouldn't be a problem."

Gov. Ted Strickland, who is strongly backed by the NRA, is not calling for a new law.

"The governor believes this is an enforcement issue," Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said. "The laws on the books should be more tightly enforced."

WBNS 10TV (CBS Columbus) - Illegal Gun Sales Investigation Centers On Ohio

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg showed undercover video on Wednesday from a Columbus gun show where the weapons were purchased illegally without a background check.

The show, which took place at Westland Mall, showed a private seller breaking the law. If the gun seller has any reason to believe the buyer cannot pass a background check or has some other mental disability, the transaction should not occur, 10TV's John Fortney reported.

The video also showed a licensed firearms dealing selling to a "straw buyer," a third person who bought for someone who can't pass a background check.

Ken Hanson, the lawyer for the Buckeye Firearms Association, was angry but said the people committing a crime by selling should be prosecuted under existing law.

WLWT (NBC Cincinnati) - Sharonville Gun Show Visited In NYC Gun Probe

Reaction at the report has been mixed in the Tri-State, and is divided along ideological lines.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is part of Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" initiative.

"The constitutions clear, if folks want to go and buy a gun and have it and do their hunting, that's fine. What we're talking about people who get their guns through illegal means," Mallory said.

The Buckeye Firearms Association calls the Bloomberg report questionable, and said additional laws to close the gun show loophole are a waste.

"We have so many levels of checks. We have so many levels of laws. We just don't need any more. Let's enforce the ones we have," association member Collin Rink said.

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