(CNSNews.com) - The federal government confirms it is investigating New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's sting operation against gun dealers in five states.
Five months ago, The Second Amendment Foundation called on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate Bloomberg for obstruction of justice relating to Bloomberg's "rogue" operation.
SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said he has just received a letter from W. Larry Ford of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirming that the agency "is investigating the matter in order to determine if violations of federal firearms laws occurred."
Ford, the director of ATF's public and governmental affairs, did not offer details on what he called "an open investigation."
"We're delighted that ATF is taking this matter seriously," Gottlieb said.
"Mayor Bloomberg dispatched private investigators to several states, where they apparently made straw gun purchases in an effort to file civil lawsuits against gun dealers. The mayor refused to turn over alleged evidence obtained during this vigilante operation to ATF or other proper authorities, and instead exploited the affair to advance his own political agenda."
The Second Amendment Foundation says neither state nor federal statutes give the mayor of New York -- or any other city -- the authority to launch such a "rogue investigation," especially one that extends beyond his jurisdiction.
"Our letter to Attorney General Gonzales raised serious questions, and I am now assured that the ATF is looking for some serious answers. Mayor Bloomberg should step forward and provide those answers without delay, Gottlieb said.
"In the end, we understand that a final decision whether to prosecute Bloomberg and others involved in last year's illicit sting is up to the Justice Department," Gottlieb added.
"But right now, it appears that ATF is doing its job in a slow, deliberate and painstaking manner."
Last year, Bloomberg's office hired private investigators who wore hidden cameras while trying to make "straw purchases" from federally licensed gun dealers in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. The goal was to prove that out-of-state stores contribute to crime in New York City.
In May 2006, Bloomberg announced that the city was filing a civil lawsuit in federal court against 15 gun dealers who allegedly allowed such purchases to take place.
Around the same time, Mayor Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino formed a "Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition," a bipartisan group of mayors who are trying to get illegal guns off the streets.
See Earlier Stories:
Bloomberg 'Stonewalling' ATF on Gun 'Sting' Videos (30 Aug. 2006)
Mayors' Summit on Illegal Arms Draws Fire From Gun Rights Group (Jan. 24, 2007)
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