Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is suing the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for data about where guns used in city crimes originate, the latest move from city leaders to address the proliferation of firearms plaguing Baltimore.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a national nonprofit advocating for gun control, is providing legal assistance for the lawsuit that seeks five years of ATF “trace data,” which shows where a gun police recover was manufactured to where it was sold at retail. That information is regulated by a federal law, known as the Tiahrt Amendment, which only allows it to be shared for law enforcement purposes. Baltimore officials filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the data in September but were rejected.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and seeks to have a judge order the ATF to approve the city’s data request.

Maryland has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, including a law against the straw purchase of firearms, which is when someone who can legally buy a gun does so for someone who cannot. Federal law also prohibits straw purchasing, but enforcement at any level is mixed.

The ATF could produce the data, but the agency does not house it in a readily accessible way and does not have a searchable database of firearms or firearm owners. Instead, according to ATF Baltimore Public Information Officer Amanda Hils, the agency keeps all trace data in nonsearchable formats.

“This ensures ATF is in compliance with federal law that prohibits ATF from maintaining a database while also being able to continue ATF’s mission of addressing violent crime and assisting our law enforcement partners,” Hils said.

— Lee O. Sanderlin in Baltimore wants to know where guns used in crimes come from. It’s suing the ATF to get the data.

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