Newsday
December 5, 2005

Schumer: Tracking guns should be easier

BY BRYAN VIRASAMI STAFF WRITER

Tracing and gathering data on stolen guns -- like the handgun used in the shooting of NYPD Officer Dillon Stewart -- should be easier and more public, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

Schumer also said the rest of the country should have a law, as New York does, requiring stolen guns to be reported to authorities and be available on a national database.

At a Manhattan news conference, Schumer (D-N.Y.), said a current law approved as an amendment to a spending bill that restricts the sharing of gun tracing data should be rolled back.

"The fundamental problem is almost every gun used in a crime does not come from New York, so without a national database we can't do very much," Schumer said. "In New York, if a gun is stolen or if a gun is used in a crime, they have very good records but many, 90 percent of the guns, come from out of state."

He said police can only "trace certain guns after a crime is committed" and called for traces on all reported stolen guns.

A spokesman at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which oversees national gun data and which was the target of the law Schumer mentioned, said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the law. But he did say that law-enforcement agencies cannot access data outside their jurisdictions unless there is a obvious link.

It is widely known that certain states, including Ohio and Florida, are major suppliers of guns that are eventually bought and sold illegally in the city.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his radio address Sunday to call for tougher laws in the wake of Stewart's death. He said national and state laws need to be toughened.

"Until Congress gets serious about shutting down the flow of illegal guns, it is only a matter of time before another tragedy occurs," Bloomberg said.

Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, appeared with the senator at his Manhattan office to show support for the repeal.

Schumer said he would also like ATF to get more funds to expand the number of "rogue gun dealers" they investigate, expand the number of times they can visit gun dealers to check inventories and increase penalties for gun traffickers.