FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG HAILS SIGNIFICANT COURT VICTORY FOR NEW YORK CITY IN FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS ON OUR STREETS
District Court Allows City Case To Proceed Using ATF Gun Trace Database Already In Its Possession Despite Congressional Attempts to Restrict
Database to be Used by City to Establish Gun Manufacturers' and Distributor's Culpability In Creating a Public Nuisance Based Upon Inadequate Marketing Practices and Supervision of Retail Gun Dealers
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hailed an important victory for New York City in its fight to get illegal guns off its streets, despite recent attempts in Congress to block these efforts. This afternoon, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that recent congressional funding legislation restricting the use of gun trace data, also known as the "Tiahrt Amendment," does not apply to data already in the City's possession. The decision removes a potential impediment to the City's public nuisance lawsuit against gun manufacturers and distributors.
"The court's ruling that we can use this gun trace data as evidence is great news for every police officer, parent and child that walks our streets and will help our case against irresponsible gun manufacturers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This important data demonstrates that gun manufacturers and distributors can determine which of their retail dealers are selling the guns that wind up being used in crime on the City's streets. It's only common sense that this data should be admitted as evidence and we're pleased that the Federal Court has agreed. This is an important step forward in our fight to get illegal guns off our streets. It's particularly great news just two days after mayors from around the country joined us in launching a new national effort against illegal guns."
"We are very pleased that the District Court carefully examined the language of the federal legislation in question to determine that the statute was not intended to apply to information that has long been in the hands of the City," said Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in The City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 00 CV 3641 (E.D.N.Y.) (Senior District Judge Jack B. Weinstein), held that recent congressional funding legislation restricting the use of gun trace data does not apply to data already in the City's possession. The decision removes a potential impediment to the City's public nuisance lawsuit against gun manufacturers and distributors.
At the behest of the gun industry lobby, Congress has recently passed a series of appropriations amendments - with no debate or public hearings - designed to restrict the availability of gun trace data. This data provides one link between gun manufacturer and distributor sales practices to the widespread availability of illegal guns on the City's streets. The present decision by the District Court states that the restrictions in the statute do not prevent the City from introducing into evidence gun trace data lawfully obtained by the City before the statute's enactment. Judge Weinstein noted, "[h]ere, the proverbial cat is already out of ATF's bag, and requires no further feeding or government care. It would make no sense to distort the terms of a federal budgetary measure in order to wrestle the cat back in."
Earlier, in December 2005, Judge Weinstein held that a different federal statute, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ("CAA"), requiring the dismissal of certain gun lawsuits, did not apply to the City's case. That decision is pending on appeal before the Second Circuit, and is not expected to be argued before that court until later this summer. The City fully expects that defendants will appeal from the current decision.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Kate O'Brien Ahlers (Law)