An outrageous remark by a former official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is “nothing short of slanderous,” said leaders of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA).

Gerald Nunziato, former head of ATF’s National Tracing Center and now a partner in Crime Gun Solutions, an anti-gun consulting firm, told the Houston Chronicle Sunday, “If it wasn’t for criminals, there wouldn’t be a gun industry in this country.”

CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb fired back: “If it wasn’t for remarks like Nunziato’s, perhaps law-abiding American gun owners would not consider ATF an adversarial agency when it comes to Second Amendment rights. His comment is nothing short of slanderous. I guess in his opinion, we’re all criminals.”

Nunziato was in charge of the ATF’s National Tracing Center from late 1991 through the end of 1998 under the Clinton Administration. He opposed the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2004, and as far back as 2002, he was claiming to Bill Moyers in a PBS program called “Gun Land” that “Terrorists could come to this country and obtain firearms so easy … We sell anything in this country. It’s very easy to obtain weapons here from gun shows, pawn shops, straw purchases, relatives, through newspaper ads.”

“Gerald Nunziato appears intent on spreading anti-gun hysteria with such remarks,” said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron. “It’s no wonder why he is frequently quoted by anti gun rights extremists like Senators Dianne Feinstein and Frank Lautenberg, and the zealots at the Brady Campaign. It’s disappointing that the Houston Chronicle published his remarks as though they were factual, when it is easily proven otherwise.”

“Nunziato has admitted under oath,” Gottlieb recalled, “in the California case against Arcadia Machine and Tool, Inc. that just because guns sold by specific dealers were eventually involved in crimes there could be no conclusive claim of wrongdoing without supporting data.

“We sincerely hope that Nunziato’s statements do not reflect the philosophy of the ATF today,” Gottlieb concluded. “This kind of anti-gun bigotry has no place in an agency that deals with firearms manufacturers, distributors, retailers and American gun owners on a daily basis.”