(CNSNews.com) - The National Rifle Association plans to sue the Obama administration over its new gun-reporting requirement in four states bordering Mexico.
On Monday, the Justice Department said it would require firearms dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to report multiple sales of certain semi-automatic rifles to the same person within a five-day period. The goal is to stop the illegal flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, said Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
The new reporting requirement applies to semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and calibers greater than .22. Such weapons, Cole said, "are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficiking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border."
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox called the reporting requirement "a blatant effort by the Obama administration and ATF to divert focus of Congress and the general public from their gross incompetence in the Fast and Furious scandal."
As CNSNews.com has reported, a House committee is investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for its botched gun-tracking operation in which the ATF -- evidently with the approval of Justice Department higher-ups -- allowed straw purchasers in the U.S. to send guns to Mexican criminals. Two of the guns sold as part of Operation Fast and Furious ended up at the Arizona crime scene where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was murdered in December.
Although ATF's goal was to track the guns, Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, said tracking devices were put on guns in only two instances.
Most of the tracking involved "a few hours of following the first car," Issa told Fox News. "In one case, he said, the ATF did track the guns with a GPS device "quite a ways into Mexico, but of course, they didn't inform the Mexican officials, and they didn't have a team on the other side of the border" to follow the signal, which "simply disappeared."
The NRA said the Justice Department's "scheme" will "unjustly burden law-abiding retailers in border states." Cox said the move will not affect drug cartels -- which are not deterred by paperwork violations -- and it won't prevent violence along the border.
"ATF and the Administration lack the statutory authority to do this, and the NRA will file suit as soon as ATF sends the first demand letters," Cox said in a statement posted on the NRA's Web site.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called the Justice Department's new reporting requirement "the height of hypocrisy," given that the administration "knowingly and intentionally allowed guns to be trafficked into Mexico."
"Limiting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens is not going to solve the problem," the Associated Press quoted Smith as saying.