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Ackerman pushes gun law in wake of Ariz. shooting

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) has joined the chorus of lawmakers calling for tighter arms control after a gunman in Arizona shot a U.S. congresswoman in the head and killed six others, including a federal judge and the 9-year-old granddaughter of a former New York Mets manager.

The congressman last week introduced legislation, entitled the Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act, which aims to prevent individuals from buying guns without background checks. He is among a group of lawmakers from throughout the area who are calling for the federal government to better regulate firearm sales, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Garden City) and Peter King (R-Massapequa Park).

A loophole in the law currently allows gun dealers with revoked licenses to sell their firearms to buyers without background checks in unregulated inventory clearance sales, Ackerman said.

“It’s clear that Congress must close troubling loopholes in federal gun control laws that let firearms fall into the hands of convicted felons, fugitives, domestic violence perpetrators and severely emotionally disturbed individuals,” Ackerman said. “Every gun sold should require a background check — period.”

Because of this loophole, Ackerman said gun dealers whose licenses have been revoked for violating federal law may legally convert their stash of firearms and label it a “personal collection,” which allows them to sell the weapons without undergoing background checks because they are no longer considered licensed dealers.

The Bayside lawmaker’s proposed law comes after Jared Lee Loughner, 22, of Arizona allegedly shot and killed six people and wounded 14, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), whom investigators said was allegedly the target of the attack at a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8. Among those who died were federal Judge John M. Roll and 9-year-old Christina Green, the granddaughter of Dallas Green, who managed the Mets from 1993-96.

Bloomberg has thrown his support behind Ackerman’s bill.

“We need common sense, effective policies to close gaps in the background check system and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people,” Bloomberg said. “The fire sales loophole is one of those dangerous gaps. Pharmacists who lose their licenses can’t sell prescription drugs to people without prescriptions, yet gun dealers who lose their licenses can sell off their inventory without even conducting background checks. Along with more than 550 members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, I support Rep. Ackerman’s bill to fix this glaring gap in the federal background check system.”

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, also said he backed Ackerman’s proposal.

“It’s time for Congress to stop this reckless end-run around background checks that makes it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons,” Helmke said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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