Michael Bloomberg: NYC Probe in Ariz. Shows Illegal Gun Sales

(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)
Mayor: NYC Probe In Ariz. Shows Illegal Gun Sales
(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

(CBS/WCBS/AP) Mayor Michael Bloomberg says undercover investigators working for New York City were illegally allowed to buy semi-automatic pistols at an Arizona gun show.

Bloomberg says that the sale not long after the mass shooting in Tucson exposes a "dangerous gap" in federal gun laws.

According to Bloomberg, investigators told two sellers they could probably not pass a background check for two semi-automatic pistols. He says that revelation should have prevented the sale.

"You would hope that with the memory of the Tucson shooting still so painfully fresh, anyone working in a gun show, especially in the state of Arizona, would think twice before selling a firearm to anyone who even hinted or joked about not being able to pass a background check," Bloomberg said.

According to CBS affiliate WCBS, the investigators visited Phoenix on Jan. 23, a couple of weeks after the rampage in Tucson killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

"Just 15 days after the Tucson shootings our undercover investigator found sellers willing to break the law and endanger their fellow citizens just to make a quick buck," Bloomberg said.

Not everyone was sold on the undercover probe.

"Let me get this straight: From New York City, they are going to send people to Arizona to look into this?" said Ariz. state Sen. Ron Gould, a Republican. "They might take a look a little closer to home if they are concerned about guns getting in their state."

The operators of the Phoenix gun show where the investigators made their buys issued a statement Monday saying all exhibitors at its shows are required to follow state and federal gun laws.

"Mayor Bloomberg and his `task force' have no legal authority in the state of Arizona, or in any other place in America except New York City," said the statement from the Crossroads of the WestGun Shows. "These forays into America's heartland committing blatant acts to entrap otherwise innocent gun owners is an unlawful scheme that is created by Bloomberg's task force."

While many sellers at gun shows are not required under federal law to perform background checks, it is illegal for them to sell a weapon if they have reason to believe the buyer wouldn't be able to pass such a check, Mayor Bloomberg said.