Bloomberg Tries to Profiteer Politically From Fort Hood Shooting

While most of us were gorging ourselves on outsized portions of turkey, ham, and pie on Thanksgiving, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean were making the final edits on a joint editorial being readied for publication. Last Friday, that editorial -- ominously titled "Enabling the Next Fort Hood?" -- ran in the Washington Post.

Bloomberg and Kean mention Major Nidal Hasan's rampage and then transition to the Little Rock military recruiting station shooting carried out by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim convert. It seemed as if Bloomberg and Kean were about to blame Islamic extremists for these attacks -- but that would have been both far too logical and far too brave.

Instead, they used these attacks against American soldiers by militant Muslims to attack a series of laws first passed in 2003. These laws kept confidential law enforcement data and the private information of American citizens from being obtained by the public.

I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. They write:

A full investigation will reveal whether other red flags should have resulted in preventive action, but here is one thing we already know: A federal law repeatedly supported by Congress interfered with the FBI's ability to find out about Hasan's purchase of a handgun. Knowledge of that purchase might -- and should -- have triggered great scrutiny. And it could have saved lives.

During the Clinton administration, the FBI had access to records of gun background checks for up to 180 days. But in 2003, Congress began requiring that the records be destroyed within 24 hours. This requirement, one of the many restrictions on gun data sponsored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), meant that Hasan's investigators were blocked from searching records to determine whether he or other terrorist suspects had purchased guns. When Hasan walked out of Guns Galore in Killeen, Tex., the FBI had only 24 hours to recognize and flag the record -- and then it was gone, forever.

Contrary to what Bloomberg and Kean claim, law enforcement has never been without access to gun trace data.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) keeps records of all gun trace data, which typically includes the name of the law enforcement agency submitting the request, the site from where the firearm was recovered, the name of the commercial dealer that sold the firearm, and the name of the original buyer. All any law enforcement agency needs to do is contact the ATF, and they will run a gun trace.

I have personal knowledge of this. I've been part of the process myself, digging through boxes to locate a specific Form 4473 for ATF agents.

The ATF and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) both support the Tiahrt amendment (as the laws are collectively known) as a matter of record, with the FOP declaring:

The FOP has supported this language since the original version was first enacted several years ago because of our concern for the safety of law enforcement officers and the integrity of law enforcement investigations. For example, the disclosure of trace requests can inadvertently reveal the names of undercover officers or informants, endangering their safety. It may also tip off the target of an investigation, as appears to be the case in New York City.

Yes, you read that correctly.