BELLEVUE, WA – Five months after the Second Amendment Foundation called on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for obstruction of justice relating to Bloomberg’s rogue “sting” operation against gun retailers in five states, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has confirmed in a letter that an investigation is underway.

SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb said today that a letter he received from W. Larry Ford, Assistant ATF Director for Public and Governmental Affairs, confirms that the agency “is investigating the matter in order to determine if violations of federal firearms laws occurred.” Ford could not offer details in his letter, explaining to Gottlieb that the agency cannot comment on “an open investigation.”

“We’re delighted that ATF is taking this matter seriously,” Gottlieb said. “Mayor Bloomberg dispatched private investigators to several states, where they apparently made straw gun purchases in an effort to file civil lawsuits against gun dealers. The mayor refused to turn over alleged evidence obtained during this vigilante operation to ATF or other proper authorities, and instead exploited the affair to advance his own political agenda.

“Nowhere in state or federal statute does the mayor of New York or any other municipality have the authority to launch such a rogue investigation, especially one that extends beyond his jurisdiction,” Gottlieb said. “Our letter to Attorney General Gonzales raised serious questions, and I am now assured that the ATF is looking for some serious answers. Mayor Bloomberg should step forward and provide those answers without delay.

“Instead,” Gottlieb observed, “Bloomberg has beguiled scores of his colleagues to join this anti-gun enterprise. This is an area of serious criminal investigation in which municipal mayors have absolutely no business interjecting themselves, especially for a political sound bite.

“In the end,” Gottlieb said, “we understand that a final decision whether to prosecute Bloomberg and others involved in last year’s illicit sting is up to the Justice Department. But right now, it appears that ATF is doing its job in a slow, deliberate and painstaking manner. I’ll repeat what I said last year: Simply because Bloomberg is a billionaire does not put him above the law. There’s no room in America for his kind of political thuggery.”

The US Department of Justice letter is available here