NEW YORK – Two out of state gun dealers sued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for allegedly selling firearms illegally have agreed to a settlement that puts their sales and inventory under the microscope of a special monitor, city officials said Monday.
The two shops in Georgia were among approximately 45 out-of-state dealers targeted in a sting operation this spring because officials say they have supplied hundreds of weapons used in New York City crimes over the years.
The Bloomberg administration sent private investigators wearing hidden cameras to attempt "straw purchases," where one person fills out the legal forms and makes the purchase for another. The ruse is illegal and often used by convicted felons and others who cannot own firearms.
The majority of dealers refused the sale, but the 15 that allegedly allowed it were named in the federal lawsuit filed in May. Two shops — which had allegedly sold firearms linked to assaults, shootings, narcotics offenses and at least one killing in New York City — agreed to a settlement, with terms that include a special master closely eyeing their practices.
According to the settlement, the two dealers — A-1 Jewelry and Pawn and AAA Gun & Pawn Brokers — will be supervised for three years, but the clock will restart if there are any violations. For its part in the agreement, the city dropped its pursuit of monetary damages as well as its attempt to halt sales. They must also pay the city penalties if they allow illegal purchases.
The dealers did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Bloomberg has made gun control a top priority for his second term. His administration's unusual sting operation outside state lines appears to sidestep the law signed by President George W. Bush last year that gives gun makers and dealers protection from civil suits, except in cases where they violate the law.
City officials said they hope the other 13 dealers named in the suit will join the first two and agree to be monitored.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr recently filed a $400 million (euro313.3 million) lawsuit against Bloomberg, claiming the sting operation that led to the suit was "careless, willful and clearly illegal" and that a dealer was defamed in the process.
Bloomberg has dismissed Barr's suit as a "publicity stunt."