Bloomberg: Obama Should ‘Go Around Congress’ to Appoint ATF Director

By Melanie Arter | January 14, 2013 | 9:07pm EST

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York (AP Photo)

( – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday urged President Barack Obama to make a recess appointment for the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as one of several steps that Obama can take to on gun control “without congressional approval at any time he chooses with just the stroke of a pen.”

“The president can make a recess appointment to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms. The ATF as it’s called hasn’t had a director for six years. Can you imagine how much outrage there’d be if we’d been without a Homeland Security Secretary for six years?” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg delivered opening remarks at a summit by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for Gun Policy and Research. He is the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

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“This is as much a public safety threat as it would be if there weren’t a secretary for Homeland Security, and if Congress keeps blocking the ATF appointees, all the president has to do is make a recess appointment. It is relatively easy, and it has been done many times to go around Congress,” Bloomberg added.

“You can’t have an agency without somebody running it that’s gonna do the job that it was created for,” he said.

“But there are other steps that President Obama can take without congressional approval at any time he chooses with just the stroke of a pen. Vice President Biden understands this, and we hope his recommendations [on gun control] will include at least these four steps that we’ve urged him to do,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor urged Obama to order federal agencies to submit relevant data to the National Gun Background Check Database, “because every missing record is a potential murder in the making.”

Bloomberg called on the president to direct the Justice Department to “make it a priority of prosecuting convicted criminals who provide false personal information during gun purchase background checks.”

During 2010, the last year that data was collected, only 44 such cases were prosecuted out of 76,000 that the Justice Department referred to the FBI, Bloomberg claimed.

“These are felony cases involving criminals trying to buy guns, and yet our federal government is prosecuting less than one-tenth of one percent of them. It is shameful, and it has to end, and the president can do it by just picking up the phone and saying to his Justice Department, ‘This is your job. Go do it, or I’ll get somebody that will,’” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg also called on Obama to stop supporting the Tiahrt order, which the mayor said, "keeps the public in the dark about who are the gun traffickers and how they operate."

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