(CNSNews.com) - The acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says he expects the White House to approve an ATF proposal to impose an emergency regulation requiring U.S. gun dealers along the southwestern border to report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles.
Ken Melson, ATF’s acting director, said during a Dec. 20 Webcast, “We took this step as a way to help gain actionable law enforcement intelligence, which we believe will help reduce criminal firearms trafficking along the Southwest border.”
Pro-gun rights groups oppose the ATF proposal.
On Dec. 17, the ATF announced through the Federal Register its intent to require the reporting of multiple sales of certain long guns by licensed firearms dealers in four
An ATF spokesperson told CNSNews.com that the reporting requirement will apply to all licensed firearms dealers -- approximately 8,500 of them -- in
Under the proposal, the ATF would require dealers to report to authorities when they sell within five consecutive business days two or more semi-automatic rifles greater than .22 caliber and with detachable ammunition magazines.
“Before we can actually issue the Demand Letter [to firearms dealers] we must receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget for purposes of the paperwork reduction act,” said Melson. “We expect to receive that approval in early January 2011.”
The White House press office did not return CNSNews.com’s requests for comment.
The ATF director said the initiative will be implemented “as a pilot project for a period of one year,” although the Federal Register announcement states that approval of the proposal is valid for a trial period of about 6 months.
The Federal Register posting says that emergency approval would last 180 days (or 6 months) for a comment and review period. After that time, the ATF can request to end the requirement or ask that it be extended for a longer period of time.
Second Amendment groups say no
“We oppose this,” Rachel Parsons, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association (NRA), told CNSNews.com. “We support legitimate proposals to curb gun crime. This will do absolutely nothing to address the problem in
“We think this is bargaining away our Second Amendment and our freedom, and this is a
“The Second Amendment is not the cause of border, drug-related violence,” added the
Melson said that the requirement “to report the specified multiple long gun sales” is meant “to identify criminal firearms traffickers, not to prevent the full and free exercise of our Second Amendment rights, or to encumber the [gun dealers] with burdensome paperwork.”
“These reports will give ATF real-time leads for the investigation of gun trafficking,” said Melson. “ATF’s experience in these source states proves that multiple purchases of the described rifles are strong indicators of firearms trafficking to
“By obtaining information about these multiple sales, ATF increases the likelihood of uncovering and disrupting trafficking schemes before the firearms make their way into
Nevertheless, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, told The Washington Post on Dec. 17, "This administration does not have the guts to build a wall [along the border], but they do have the audacity to blame and register gun owners for
He went on to say that
However, the NRA noted in a Dec. 17 press release, “The legality of requiring sales reports on any long guns is also in doubt. When the Congress specifically imposed multiple sales reporting on handguns only, it implicitly stated its intention that the same requirement not apply to sales of long guns.”
The Gun Owners of America also pointed out that the ATF’s move to pass the proposal by “regulatory fiat” circumvents Congress’ authority.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), suggested a similar initiative last year.