Brady Center Files Lawsuit Against ATF for Refusing to Release Documents on Bad Apple Gun Dealers, ATF-Authored White Paper
Brady Center and International law firm Covington & Burling LLP announce lawsuit to obtain crucial documents
Washington, D.C. – October 16, 2017. Today, the Brady Center and co-counsel Covington & Burling filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit was filed after the ATF failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information regarding ATF's secret -- but leaked -- memo about reducing regulations on the gun industry as well as documents about gun dealers that, according to ATF inspections, did not comply with their legal obligations to avoid selling guns to dangerous people.
"The ATF has a critical role in monitoring the gun industry and keeping America safe from gun violence. We sought information about its work, and it did not respond, even though it is required to do so under federal law. We certainly hope that ATF is doing its job and the public deserves these documents so we can make sure that the ATF is doing everything it can to stop gun trafficking and other crimes," said Avery Gardiner, Co-President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Brady lawyer Mariel Goetz added, "The Brady Center has worked diligently to follow all procedures to obtain this information. Last week, our organization filed a class action suit on behalf of the attendees of the Las Vegas music festival who suffered through the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Today, we file suit on behalf of all Americans. We all deserve information about our government's efforts to regulate firearms and stop illegal gun trafficking. We need transparency to make sure that the federal government is doing what it should to stop gun violence."
Federal agencies have 20 days to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, but the ATF has failed to respond to FOIA requests filed six months ago by Covington & Burling and the Brady Center. Senior counsel Alan Pemberton of Covington & Burling LLP added, "Many of our lawyers have worked with the Brady Center over the years on a variety of gun safety issues, and this is a continuation of that work."
In March, the Brady Center filed a FOIA request for documents related to a white paper written by the second highest-ranking official of the ATF, Ronald Turk. That white paper laid out recommendations to remove or reduce federal regulations on guns. These proposed rollbacks have long been priorities of the gun lobby and have been supported by the National Rifle Association, which was a major contributor to President's Trump campaign.
In August, Brady filed another FOIA request to support its "Bad Apple Gun Dealer" campaign, seeking to obtain recent records relating to annual inspections of licensed gun dealers that showed serious violations of law. Identifying the dealers that violate federal law and are involved in negligent and illegal behavior is one of the most important ways that Brady holds the gun industry accountable for supplying guns to criminals who terrorize our communities.
Both of these requests are central to the Brady Center's core mission to prevent the 93 deaths and hundreds of injuries due to gun violence every day. Mariel Goetz and Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Kevin Barnett, Alan Pemberton, and Nooree Lee of Covington & Burling, LLP are leading this case.
ABOUT THE BRADY CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE:
For more than 25 years, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has represented victims of gun violence litigation cases across the country. As a result, the Brady Center has obtained or helped obtain more than $80 million in verdicts and settlements against gun companies on behalf of victims. A 501(c)(3) organization, the Brady Center is located at 840 First Street, NE, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20002 https://www.bradycampaign.org/legal-action-project