January 23, 2024
NSSF Moves to Intervene in Case to Prevent Law Enforcement Trace Data From Unlawful Public Disclosure
WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, the Firearm Industry Trade Association, filed a Motion to Intervene with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to protect law enforcement sensitive crime gun trace data that the City of Baltimore, Md., is attempting to force the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to reveal, despite federal law barring the release of trace data outside of law enforcement.
The City of Baltimore is attempting to expose crime gun trace data that is specifically protected from public disclosure by Congress for over 20 years because releasing this law enforcement sensitive data would jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations, putting the lives of law enforcement, witnesses, cooperating firearm retailers and others at risk. This is why Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), ATF and law enforcement, including the nation’s largest police organization, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), all agree on the importance of protecting this sensitive data. Access to gun crime trace data is – and should only be – available to law enforcement in connection with a bona-fide criminal investigation. The Baltimore Police Department has full access to the data for its jurisdiction. No law enforcement agency has ever been denied access to trace data.
“This is a transparent attempt by gun control advocates at the City of Baltimore and their lawyers from the Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety to gain access to the data to use it to smear licensed firearm retailers and manufacturers by suggesting they are responsible for crimes committed by others misusing lawfully sold firearms,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s Senior Vice President & General Counsel. “The danger of releasing trace data is not hypothetical. This information is guarded because it is often incomplete and is used by law enforcement in active criminal investigations. Disclosing it would endanger the lives of our police. Additionally, the misuse of trace data is an attempt by gun control advocates in the city’s government as a substitute for actual evidence of wrongdoing by members of the industry.”
ATF trace data was misused by gun control groups in litigation against industry members as a substitute for actual evidence of wrongdoing, even though ATF has repeatedly said, including in their 1999 Crime Gun Trace Analysis Reports, “The appearance of [a licensed dealer] or a first unlicensed purchaser of record in association with a crime gun or in association with multiple crime guns in no way suggests that either the federal firearms licensed dealer (FFL) or the first purchaser has committed criminal acts. Rather, such information may provide a starting point for further and more detailed investigation.”
NSSF will not stand idly by while gun control advocates like Everytown and their bought-and-paid for antigun politicians seek to circumvent the rule of law in their failing crusade to shutter the firearm industry that makes the exercise of the Second Amendment possible.
The City of Baltimore filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with ATF to disclose records of the top 10 retailers of firearms that were sold and subsequently recovered at Baltimore crime scenes between 2018-2022, as well as the time-to-crime from when those firearms were sold and recovered by police. Baltimore officials also sought information about firearms recovered in the same time period with any connection to homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, suicide and attempted suicide. The third and fourth requests seek data tables or spreadsheets that were used to compile two charts published in the report produced by ATF on Baltimore crime involving firearms.
Public disclosure of this information would violate federal law, specifically the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits disclosure of the ATF firearm trace information.
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.
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