by Frank Miniter
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made a habit of blaming Second Amendment freedom outside of Chicago for gang warfare in the city, but Emanuel’s office ignored our interview requests to explain how this could be so. The Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), however, not only agreed to answer questions, but was very candid. Some of their answers even expose Emanuel’s anti-gun spin.
Thomas Ahern, public information officer for the Chicago Field Division, began by explaining that ATF’s special agents focus their investigations on armed violent offenders, career criminals, gun traffickers and gangs. The ATF also assists local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Basically, when a gun is found or seized from a criminal, the Chicago Police Department or other law enforcement agency asks the ATF to help trace the gun.
To accomplish this, the ATF has a criminal gun database system called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). A police department sends them a gun’s make, model and serial number and possibly a spent casing and bullet from the gun. This information is entered in the database to see if the ATF can find matches with other crimes. ATF agents will also follow a guns’ trail to see where it was originally sold and who bought it. The ballistic information attained from the spent casings and bullets are also entered into the digital database so agents can search for matches and better assist with possible prosecutions.
This is where police work runs into political spin. Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel and many other anti-gun politicians and activists blame the licensed firearm dealers around the city of Chicago, and even those as far away as Mississippi, for supplying guns to criminals in Chicago.
As the ATF’s agents are the ones who work with gun dealers—Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs)—to make sure those gun dealers are complying with federal law, I asked if the ATF has evidence that indicates gun stores around Chicago are supplying gangs with guns. Ahern replied, “In our experience, licensed gun dealers are not the problem.”