The anti-gun violence group headed by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is taking the Trump administration to court, alleging the administration’s official talking points are coming from gun lobbyists.
The lawsuit filed Thursday by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence claimed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not turn over copies of communications between ATF officials and gun lobbyists made in the days after the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“The policy choices made by the Trump administration, as well as its public response to prominent instances of gun violence, mirrors closely, if not exactly, the views and communications strategies preferred and employed by the Washington gun lobby,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“It appears that the administration is coordinating with, or taking direction from, the Washington gun lobby in responding to mass shootings,” the lawsuit continued. “Plaintiff brings this action to determine whether, and to what extent, this apparent coordination has been accomplished through communications with officials at the ATF.”
In its Oct. 10 records requests, which were made under the Freedom of Information Act, the law center requested ATF correspondence that included words such as “NRA,” “rifle association,” and websites and names associated with gun lobbyists, such as National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.
The requests also covered communications that “refer or relate to the development of the White House talking points on the Las Vegas mass shooting,” as well as all communications and calendar invites related to Ronald Turk, the associate deputy director of the ATF.
A white paper circulated by Turk on Jan. 20 to other ATF officials suggested relaxing gun regulations involving silencers, sales at gun shows, armor-piercing ammunition, licensing for selling machine guns, and importing assault weapons, among others.
The law center claimed the white paper’s suggestions were “heavily favored and pushed for” by gun lobbyists. The law center requested copies of emails dealing with Turk’s memos, including “all iterations and versions of the Turk Memo,” as well as correspondence regarding carry reciprocity, gun silencers, bump stocks, and assault weapon exports.
The ATF acknowledged receiving the records requests, but did not provide any of the requested information, the lawsuit claimed. The law center is asking a federal judge to order the ATF to find and turn over the requested records.
Then-Congresswoman Giffords was seriously wounded in the Jan. 8, 2011, mass shooting on Tucson’s northwest side that left six people dead and 13 wounded during a meet-and-greet event. Since then, she has become a nationwide activist against gun violence.
The ATF could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday.