Gun lobby fights Mexico border rifle sale control

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 3, 2011 5:54pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. gun industry on Wednesday sued to block requirements that weapons dealers along the border with Mexico report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles, escalating the fight with the Obama administration.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) last month ordered more than 8,000 gun dealers in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to report such sales to try to stem the "iron river" of guns flowing to violent Mexican drug cartels.

Starting August 14, dealers are required to report sales of two or more rifles to the same person at one time or during any five business days for semi-automatic weapons greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine.

Two Arizona gun dealers backed by the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States, filed a lawsuit in Washington, as did the National Shooting Sports Foundation which represents the firearms industry.

They argued that the ATF was authorized by the Congress to require reporting such information only for handgun and revolver sales, not for semi-automatic rifles purchases. They also said it would unfairly burden the gun sellers.

"It will not affect drug cartels and it won't prevent violence along our borders," said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. The group is funding the lawsuits on behalf of the Arizona gun dealers.

"It will only divert scarce law enforcement resources from legitimate criminal investigations and squander them on policing law-abiding retailers," Cox said.

The gun dealers and groups asked the courts to block the ATF from imposing the requirements. Failure to comply can result in losing their licenses to sell firearms.

About 8,500 gun dealers would be subject to the reporting requirement. Some 36,000 reports of multiple handgun sales were made from the four border states in fiscal 2010, according to the ATF.

Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters that the regulations were legal and necessary to halt guns going to the drug cartels.

"We will vigorously oppose that lawsuit," Holder said. "We think that the acts that we have taken (are) consistent with the law and that the measures that we are proposing are appropriate ones to stop the flow of guns from the United States into Mexico."

One agency official pointed to another part of the federal gun control law to support the collection of sales records for multiple semi-automatic rifles as legal.

The reporting requirement is one prong of the Obama administration's effort to stop gun trafficking from the border states to Mexico where violence has killed tens of thousands since 2006.

One ATF operation to track guns going to Mexico from Arizona has become a full-blown scandal for the administration because agents said they were not allowed to follow guns beyond the initial purchaser. As a result dozens of the weapons have shown up at crime scenes in Mexico.

(Additional reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Jackie Frank)

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Comments (12)
AllForLight wrote:
Why the NRA is against stemming the illicit sale of guns to border drug runners and crooks is beyond me. This Adminstration is trying to reverse a huge screw-up, and the NRA wants to stop it? I don’t get it.

Aug 03, 2011 2:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EN3 wrote:
Absolutely bring them to court! Why because just perhaps this will bring the absurdity of getting guns so easily in certain parts of the united states. We require people to take adrivers test to get a drivers license but any yahoo can get a gun in a lot of states. This law should not be in the states that are bordering mexico they should be a national law as well. you’re buying multiple guns there should be no reason why we can take your name down. I will defend the constitutional right to bear arms but with in reason. You should have to get a license you should have to be proficient and the use of a gun. You should have a clean record why because when you commit a felony you give up certain rights. Bottom line this law should be a national law this wlaw should be in every state whenever you are purchasing several guns or handguns. Don’t give me the crap that is big brother watching for a constitutional right it’s just common sense.

Aug 03, 2011 2:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
I will support this effort by the BATFE to require the reporting of multiple gun sales, right after they send at least 5 BATFE and Department of Justice managers to jail for the “Operation Fast and Furious” debacle. This was the biggest single instance of knowingly and willingly breaking duly establishe gun laws and regulation in our nation’s history and it was perpetrated by a federal government agency/department. As far as I know, BATFE has no authority stipulated under it’s charter or mandate to intentionally break laws.

Aug 03, 2011 3:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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