More than 50 mayors of both parties, including Buffalo's Byron W. Brown, joined forces Tuesday to try to end behind-the-scenes congressional efforts that have made illegal guns more difficult to trace.
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, holding its first summit, called on Congress to stop putting the so-called "Tiahrt Amendment" into spending bills. The amendment -- named for its sponsor, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan. -- limits federal law enforcement's ability to release traced data on guns to local law enforcement.
"That's the main thing we're pushing for," Brown said. "It really makes it difficult to trace weapons."
Brown stood among many of the nation's most prominent mayors, including Michael Bloomberg of New York and Thomas Menino of Boston, at a news conference announcing the coalition.
Two prominent members of the New York congressional delegation Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, a Democrat, and Republican Rep. Peter King also took part in the event, signaling that the Tiahrt Amendment may face a tougher time in the new Democratic-controlled Congress than it faced under Republicans.
Every year since 2003, the amendment has been attached to a must-pass spending bill.
The amendment bars the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing traced data, which includes information about when, where and who purchased firearms. It also prevents localities from using trace data to revoke gun-sales licenses or take any other civil or administrative actions against gun dealers.
"Any congressman who votes for any spending bill, including the Tiahrt Amendment, is voting to put guns in the hands of criminals," Bloomberg said.
None of the mayors at the news conference mentioned federal legislation other than the Tiahrt Amendment. Most notably, not one word was spoken about the federal assault weapons ban, which the Democratic Congress passed in 1993 and the Republican Congress allowed to expire a decade later.
Mayors are interested in renewing the ban, but the Tiahrt Amendment is a higher priority, Brown said.