July 31, 2006

New York City strikes landmark gun sales deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City has reached a landmark
deal with two of 15 gun dealers it sued over illegal sales that
will allow authorities to conduct undercover surveillance on
the companies and videotape sales.

The city filed the suit against the 15 gun dealers from
five states in U.S. federal court in May after it launched an
undercover sting operation that found dealers allowed convicted
felons to buy guns through surrogates.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that A-1 Jewelry and
Pawn, Inc. of Augusta, Georgia, and AAA Gun & Pawn Brokers of
Hephzibah, Georgia, had agreed to the deal that also creates a
penalty structure with fines up to $5,000.

He said New York City will appoint a "Special Master" to
ensure that each dealer is in full compliance with all laws
regulating the sales and purchase of firearms.

"The landmark agreement reached today sends a message that
the reckless sale of firearms will not be tolerated," Bloomberg
said in a statement.

"With increased monitoring and accountability, we'll make
sure that these guns don't end up on New York City streets.
These two gun dealers have stepped up and done the right thing
to ensure that their guns don't fall into criminal hands."

The other dealers named in the lawsuit are from Ohio,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Officials said they
were targeted because of the large number of guns traced back
to them following crimes committed in New York City.

Bloomberg has chastised lawmakers for not tightening
gun-control laws, and has blamed the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for not enforcing
existing laws.

The suit asks the U.S. federal court to halt illegal gun
sales by the dealers, appoint a special officer to monitor the
dealers and require them to submit to mandatory training.

Federal law bans gun dealers from selling when they suspect
the gun is not for the person purporting to be the buyer.

In 2004, 92 percent of guns used in New York City came from
out of state.