Baltimore’s mayor is suing the ATF to see where the guns used in crimes come from

Just last summer, amid the sweltering July heat in Baltimore, Krystal Gonzalez was startled by her husband’s unusual screams. “Aaliyah got shot!” he shouted, shaking Gonzalez.

Gonzalez rushed to the scene of a mass shooting, where her daughter Aaliyah lay under a white sheet. ‘You do not know. I need her. Oh my god, I need her,” Gonzalez begged police, her heart wrenching at the sight of her daughter’s lifeless form. Aaliyah, just 18 and a recent college graduate, was one of two people killed in the Brooklyn Day shooting, which injured 28 others on July 2.

Five people, including three youths, have been arrested, but justice eludes Gonzalez and the family of 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi, the other victim. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott complained about the influx of firearms, likely trafficked across state lines and ravaging his city. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that most guns recovered from crimes in Maryland come from elsewhere. Yet officials like Mayor Scott do not have access to vital ATF firearms trail data because of the Tiahrt Amendment.

Scott and the Baltimore City Council have taken matters into their own hands. They’re suing the ATF. Their argument is that local lawmakers cannot stop the flow of guns without knowledge of their origins. Without this crucial data, their efforts to identify trends and hold illegal dealers accountable are virtually impossible. “Baltimore has no gun stores, yet 84% of reported homicides since 2007 were gun related,” claims Mayor Scott, highlighting the city’s plight. In response, Baltimore is suing the ATF to gain access to crucial firearms data, a move supported by more than 60 congressional Democrats.

President Joe Biden has vowed to tackle gun violence by repealing restrictions like Tiahrt, but has yet to take action. Gun rights groups argue against releasing data, citing risks to research and retailers. However, experts like Alex Piquero emphasize the importance of such information, allowing targeted law enforcement efforts to effectively combat firearms-related crime.