Gun Laws & Legislation

More of the Same From Chicago

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Gear

Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation

Chicago politicians have a long and consistent history of opposing the Second Amendment. Their rigid anti-gun ideology ultimately resulted in the historic Supreme Court case, McDonald v. Chicago, which overturned Chicago’s handgun ban. But local pols have not surrendered their anti-gun crusade.

And in order to further that agenda, according to a recent Chicago Sun-Times article, Chicago now has violated federal law.

The article explains that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) gave firearm trace information to the University of Chicago (U of C) Crime Lab to “analyze” and publish a report for the Department. The report concluded guns recovered from Chicago crimes were purchased outside of the city limits.

We don’t know how much the taxpayers of Chicago paid for this “report,” but it’s clear they didn’t get their money’s worth. It’s not rocket science behind the report findings, as there are no firearm retailers within Chicago city limits. And given the anti-gun pedigree of the U of C Crime Lab, the legitimacy of the study itself in in serious question.

The executive director of the U of C Crime Lab, Roseanna Ander, has a long history of anti-gun advocacy. Ander’s served as co-chair of Mayor Emanuel’s Public Safety Transition Committee, head of the Joyce Foundation’s Gun Violence program, and as a Soros Justice Fellow in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. In fact, Chicago based Joyce Foundation is the leading funder of anti-gun advocacy groups in the country, with its largest beneficiary being the anti-gun Violence Policy Center.

This “study” was based in firearm trace data. When a firearm is confiscated at a crime scene or criminal arrest, a police department may forward information to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) to determine who made and sold the firearm. Agencies may also trace guns for reasons that have nothing to do with a criminal incident. BATF then sends back the information to the reporting agency so they can use it in a criminal case, if warranted.

Release of this data for anything other than a bona fide criminal investigation is prohibited by federal law, for very good reasons. The data used for this study should not have been released by CPD for a “published study” under current law. Doing so is a violation of the Tiahrt amendment—which was passed to protect the safety and privacy of law-abiding gun owners, police officers, witnesses, and gun dealers—by prohibiting agencies from releasing this information to non-law enforcement entities.

In fact, the pandemic of frivolous lawsuits against gun manufactures in the 1990’s stirred the need for such a law to protect privacy. It’s no surprise that Chicago was one of the cities to file such a suit, and their claims also involved trace data then, even though BATF itself has long maintained that trace data can’t be used to draw meaningful conclusions. Tiahrt was passed in response to these abuses. So in that sense, Chicago brought the privacy protections on trace data down upon itself.

Of course, Chicago politicians and bureaucrats have a long and extensive record of circumventing their citizens’ Second Amendment Rights, so this abuse is part of a pattern. Garry McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago PD learned the ropes under Mike Bloomberg in New York City. In Chicago, he called federal gun laws government-sponsored racism.

McCarthy is not alone. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long harbored deep anti-gun beliefs, and was once identified as “our guy in the White House” by the Brady Campaign. He worked for Mayor Daly, served in the Clinton White House, sponsored anti-gun legislation in Congress, worked for the Obama Administration, and since becoming Mayor has pushed for more restrictions on law-abiding citizens in Illinois.

These attacks by anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats must stop. They must be held accountable for violating federal law. This release of trace data is not an isolated incident. Further transgressions can be corrected if Congress decides to add penalties to the prohibition against release of trace data.

Stand up against those who ignore the law to push their anti-gun agenda. Register to vote today, and make a change in November.

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