Opinion Columns & Blogs

Rep. Todd Tiahrt: Mayors wrong about Tiahrt amendment

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg knows a lot, and what he knows has helped bring him success on many levels. But when it comes to federal firearm laws and the Second Amendment, Bloomberg is either uninformed or intentionally deceptive.

In recent weeks, Bloomberg and his organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have used victims of the Fort Hood massacre as political tools to seek repeal of a law known as the Tiahrt amendment. This law protects the privacy rights of legal firearm owners and ensures undercover agents and their investigations are not compromised.

Bloomberg's inability to overturn the Tiahrt amendment has led to a series of brash accusations, wild theories and deceitful self-financed smear campaigns.

Bloomberg has brazenly charged that investigators were "blocked" from searching alleged terror suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan's records — and that maintaining records beyond the 24 hours permitted by the Tiahrt amendment "could have saved lives." One of his solutions to prevent another Fort Hood tragedy: repeal the Tiahrt amendment.

There's just one problem with Bloomberg's so-called solution — the FBI already has 90 days to maintain and investigate firearm sale records related to suspects on the FBI's terrorist watch list. Not only are the FBI and counterterrorism agents notified when a suspect tries to purchase a firearm, but they can and do place holds on transactions to allow further review by field agents.

If Hasan was on the FBI's terrorist watch list, the agency would have had direct knowledge about his firearm purchase. If Hasan was not on the FBI watch list, that raises ample questions as to why not. But it should not lead us to dangerously conclude that owning or purchasing a firearm makes you suspect for committing an act of terrorism.

The FBI is not restricted by the Tiahrt amendment in its ability to monitor actions of suspects being watched for terrorist activity. The recent attacks on the Tiahrt amendment and use of American deaths to achieve a solution that already exists are a disgrace on the mayors' reputations as public servants.

For all Bloomberg's pretenses about wanting to fight crime and stop illegal guns, maybe he should stop listening to his front organization and start paying attention to the one organization that really understands this issue — the Fraternal Order of Police. As the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, the FOP supports the Tiahrt amendment. That's because, contrary to what Mayors Against Illegal Guns asserts, the Tiahrt amendment does not affect background-check outcomes, does not affect who is permitted to own a firearm, and does not restrict local law enforcement officials or the FBI from accessing all available firearm data for criminal investigations.

What is clear from the political smears is that gun-control advocates are willing to ignore the truth if it helps them achieve their objectives of establishing a national firearm registry and, ultimately, being able to sue firearm owners and manufacturers for crimes committed by criminals and terrorists.