Just last summer, amidst sweltering July heat in Baltimore, Krystal Gonzalez was startled by her husband’s uncommon screams. “Aaliyah was shot!” he cried out, shaking Gonzalez to her core.

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Gonzalez rushed to the scene of a mass shooting, where her daughter Aaliyah lay covered by a white sheet. “You don’t know. I need her. Oh my god, I need her,” Gonzalez pleaded with the police, her heart-shattering at the sight of her daughter’s lifeless form. Aaliyah, just 18 and freshly graduated, was among two fatalities in the Brooklyn Day celebration shooting that left 28 others wounded on July 2nd.

Five people, including three juveniles, have been arrested, but justice eludes Gonzalez and the family of 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi, the other victim. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott lamented the influx of firearms, likely trafficked across state lines, plaguing his city. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reveal that most guns recovered from Maryland crimes originate elsewhere. Yet, officials like Mayor Scott are barred from accessing vital ATF firearm trace data due to the Tiahrt Amendment.


Scott and the city council of Baltimore have taken matters into their own hands. They are suing the ATF. Their argument is local lawmakers cannot halt the influx of guns without knowledge of their origin. Without this critical data, their efforts to identify trends and hold unlawful dealers accountable are almost impossible. “Baltimore has no gun stores, yet 84% of reported homicides since 2007 were firearm-related,” asserts Mayor Scott, highlighting the city’s plight. In response, Baltimore is suing the ATF to gain access to crucial firearms data, a move backed by over 60 congressional Democrats.

President Joe Biden vowed to address gun violence by repealing restrictions like Tiahrt but has yet to act. Gun rights groups argue against data release, citing risks to investigations and retailers. However, experts like Alex Piquero stress the importance of such information, enabling targeted law enforcement efforts to combat firearm-related crime effectively.