Pair of Ohio editorials ignore law enforcement, parrot Michael Bloomberg

By Chad D. Baus

If I didn't know better, I'd guess that a recent (unsigned) Toledo Blade editorial, entitled "NRA puppets", and another published in the (Hamilton) Journal-News ("Keeping gun data secret is criminal") were written by anti-gun New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself.

While it does appear that Bloomberg has requested that his friends in the media begin an editorial campaign lamenting his recent setbacks in Congress, it is more likely, at least in the case of the Toledo paper, that the typically misleading editorial was penned by Blade editorial board member Dan Simpson, who just a few short months ago proposed a plan to disarm America's law-abiding gun owners.

This time, newspapers are turning their attention to the gun ban lobby's failure to force the public release of confidential firearm trace data for matters completely unrelated to a bona fide criminal investigation. And as per usual, the editorial writers had to ignore essential pieces of information in what could truly be better described as "Bloomberg puppet" pieces.

Click 'Read More' for the details.

For the past year or so, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I) has been the voice of a group of anti-gun politicians and political appointees who want access to BATFE trace information to continue and expand widespread lawsuits against firearm retailers and manufacturers that were outlawed under the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" of 2005. They made every effort to couch their actions under the guise of protecting law enforcement.

The Blade and Journal-News editorials make the same attempt.

First, from the Blade:

    This is a violent culture where criminals have easy access to firearms. Add to that the fear of terrorism returning to these shores, and people have every reason to care about efficient law enforcement.

    Suppose, then, that a law enforcement agency could get only limited information from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives about guns used in crimes. Suppose further that while such an agency could obtain ATF data about guns used in specific local crimes, it would be refused wider-reaching, gun-trace data that could uncover patterns of abuse.

    If this were so, you'd suppose Congress would move swiftly to give police the tools they need to do their jobs and keep Americans safe. You would be wrong. This is what happens now. It has happened since 2003 because of the so-called Tiahrt amendment, named for the foolish congressman, Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, who made it the law.

    Don't suppose for a minute that, because Democrats control Congress, this absurdity will change. Recently, the House Appropriations Committee defeated two attempts to change this obnoxious provision with some Democrats joining Republicans.

And from the Journal-News:

    The amendment greatly restricts federal law enforcement agencies' ability to share information about guns recovered in criminal investigations. Before its passage, federal gun data had been used by researchers at top universities studying violent crime. It also shined an unflattering light on the gun industry.

    ...It called the federal data base a threat to ordinary citizens' privacy and constitutional right to bear arms. The lobbying group also claimed that making the data public somehow undermined the safety of undercover police officers. It even enlisted the aid of a national police organization.

    The reality is that police chiefs across the nation (including in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo) have been lobbying for reversal of the Tiahrt amendment. They dispute every point made by the NRA, and argue that gun data can be released in ways that protect lawful gun owners' privacy, prevent disclosure of sensitive law enforcement information and still render the data useful in reining in rogue gun dealers.

    Local law enforcement agencies may use gun-trace data when related to specific cases under investigation. But they can't share the data with other agencies except in limited circumstances. And they can't look at the bigger picture so they can understand who's selling large quantities of weapons used to commit crimes.

As we read these editorials, the lack of mention of what specific law enforcement agencies are for the release of this data is conspicuous - and intentional. That's because, as detailed in a recent NRA Grassroots Alert covering the preservation of the Tiahrt Amendment, law enforcement agencies have cited concern that giving politicians access to this information would compromise the safety of all their men and women, particularly those involved in undercover work, and severely impact the integrity of on-going criminal investigations. Even New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recognized this problem and wrote a letter of support to then-Attorney General Ashcroft in 2002. Commissioner Kelly pointed out, "The release of trace information under FOIA jeopardizes not only the investigations, but also the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses and others."

It is for these reasons, among others, that gun owners and law enforcement agencies, including the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) joined together to prevent efforts to release this information, and Bloomberg (and his cronies in the Ohio media) are none too happy about it.

Any shred of crediblity these newspapers had left is destroyed by their failure to even acknowledge the position of the FOP (whose members Bloomberg has insulted by referring to them as a "fringe organization"), the DOJ, and the BATFE.

Both editorials have identified their enemy, of course. It's you. And it's me. It's anyone who is a member of the National Rifle Association.

Again, from the Blade's "NRA Puppets":

    Chalk it up to the enduring power of the National Rifle Association and the congressmen who slavishly pay it fealty.

And the Journal-News:

    There is nothing the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm won't say or do to protect manufacturers and dealers of guns recovered at crime scenes. In fact, it hasn't had to say much as red-meat Republicans and weak-kneed Democrats flock to aid its cynical cause.

    ...The House debate last week was a charade. Politicians from both parties eagerly mouthed the NRA's talking points.

    ...It was pathetic. The majority of members used a phoney case to curry favor and avoid attack by the NRA.

Yes, when it comes to the Second Amendment, these anti-gun rights extremists know exactly who the enemy is. Would that they has such "clarity" when it comes to the enemy that seeks to destroy our nation through terrorist attacks.

I predict these won't be the last editorials towing Bloomberg's anti-gun line on the Tiahrt Amendment. It is clear that when the gun ban lobby says "jump", Ohio media outlets are all too willing to ask "how high"?

Following are two letters to the Toledo Blade editor printed in response to "NRA Puppets". Readers who follow this link will also find a letter by a gun owner regarding the recent pro-self-defense conversion of the formerly anti-gun Ohio Rep. Michael DeBose.

July 30, 2007

Guns don’t cause crime

In response to the ridiculous July 19 editorial falsely blaming the National Rifl e Association for the criminal activity in New York City and elsewhere, I have just one thing to say: It’s easier to blame the NRA and guns than to actually do anything about the criminals themselves.

If guns cause crime, flies cause garbage.

Kent Snyder
Westbrook Drive

Tiahrt amendment doesn't hinder law

In The Blade's July 19 editorial, "NRA puppets," it is implied that the National Rifle Association's support of the Tiahrt amendment is irresponsible because it will hamper law enforcement. That is misleading. The amendment does not prevent the release of information on firearms to law enforcement as part of a criminal investigation. What it does is prevent to blanket release of firearm trace data.

What The Blade and people like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would like you to believe is that they need this information to prevent gun violence by going after gun dealers or middlemen that operate illegally. They would like us to trust that they have good intentions. I don't believe that.

Politicians like Mr. Bloomberg are why the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" was needed. This law prevents politicians from suing gun companies into bankruptcy after their guns were used in crimes. Although those lawsuits were almost universally dismissed, they still were expensive to defend. Mr. Bloomberg originally requested trace information in 2004, as part of a lawsuit to "hold gun manufacturers liable."

When the Fraternal Order of Police supported the Tiahrt amendment, Mr. Bloomberg tried to marginalize them as a "fringe organization." I do not as easily dismiss concerns about Mr. Bloomberg's intentions as "wayward fears" like the Blade does.

I want guns kept out the hands of criminals and to punish those who provide them with weapons. However, trace data should not be used by politicians for fishing expeditions. The release of gun-trace data to nonlaw enforcement is irresponsible.

Ty Henry

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