NRA, Mayors Agree on Gun Change

David Sutherland

The National Rifle Association and big-city mayors have rarely agreed on gun laws. But they’ve found something they may both support: the Obama administration’s call for full law-enforcement access to data from traces of guns used in crimes.

The rare, and somewhat vague, consensus between the NRA and the mayors appears likely to increase the chances that Congress will pass the reform

The administration is proposing a partial rollback of a 2003 amendment named for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.). Under the changes, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be able to share gun-tracing information with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors would be privy to the information.

Supporters say the change would help law enforcement target the source of guns used in crimes and would help prevent illegal drug trafficking.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other mayors support the change, arguing that removing the limitation on local police departments’ ability to access the information will make cities safer.

Christopher Cox, an NRA spokesman, stopped shy of endorsing the reform but did not oppose it: “While we do not believe any change is necessary, we appreciate the President’s decision to support law enforcement and not gun control activists.”

At the same time, gun control advocates complain that Obama is not keeping a more extensive promise he made during the presidential campaign.

“We are profoundly disappointed that President Obama has failed to follow through with his promises for openness by affirming much of the so-called Tiahrt Amendments,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Congress should delete the proposed language and do what the Obama-Biden ticket called for last year when their campaign said they ‘would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment.’”

But the White House said the president’s approach is common sense.

“There’s no doubt that the broad and unique consensus that we have reached in favor of rolling back these restrictions that have hampered the efforts of police officers across the nation will help move this provision through Congress,” said White House spokesman Ben LaBolt.

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