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Giuliani, Bloomberg At Odds On Gun Law

In the political shootout over gun laws, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, one presidential candidate and one potential presidential candidate, fire a lot of shots without hitting each other.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor, recently told the National Rifle Association he supports a measure that blocks access to aggregate gun trace data, a law that his successor, Bloomberg, long has targeted for repeal.

Mayor Bloomberg on Monday sidestepped a chance to criticize Giuliani but said the measure, known as the Tiahrt amendment, is "something that is not in the interests of people who want to be safe in this country."

"It's an outrage," he added.

Since last year, Bloomberg has headed his own national antigun campaign, which has made him the NRA's enemy No. 1. The effort includes his unsuccessful attempts to strip the Tiahrt amendment from a federal spending bill.

Bloomberg argues that the measure would make it difficult for local law enforcement agencies, such as the New York Police Department, to trace illegal guns and go after the worst dealers.

The measure's supporters, now including Giuliani, a Republican candidate for president, say it protects the privacy of gun owners as well as the police because that aggregate information could end up in the wrong hands.

Giuliani, an outspoken gun control supporter during his eight years as mayor, said Friday that the Tiahrt amendment is "a sensible provision."

He said law enforcement could still get information, and he pointed out that some authorities are comfortable with it. The National Fraternal Order of Police has said it supports the measure.

Giuliani apparently got up to speed on the details of the amendment overnight. He was asked at a news conference in northern Virginia on Thursday, the day before he addressed the NRA, whether he wanted it stripped from the bill.

He said he didn't know about the measure.

"That's one I'd have to look at. I'm not aware, I'd have to go look at the details of that amendment. I'd have to go look at it and see what it does, what kind of hindrance it creates," Giuliani said Thursday.

During his remarks to the NRA, Giuliani also backed away from a lawsuit he initiated as mayor against the gun industry, which argued that manufacturers and distributors made it too easy for criminals to get guns.

Bloomberg's administration is still arguing the case; city lawyers were in federal court on Friday as Giuliani addressed the NRA.

Giuliani said the lawsuit "has gone in a direction that I probably don't agree with at this point."

He said he backed it years ago because, as mayor, he was taking advantage of any opportunity he had to crack down on crime.

"I was excessive in every way that I could think of in order to reduce crime," Giuliani said.

He said the best way to prevent such crimes is to enforce existing gun laws, not create new ones.

It is a line of reasoning from gun advocates that Bloomberg, who is talked about as a possible candidate for president in 2008, detests.

"You can't have it both ways," the mayor said Monday. "You can't say this should be left to localities and then have a federal law that doesn't give any information."

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