U.S. judge backs multiple rifle sales reporting

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:08pm EST

Related Topics

Photo

Under the Iron Dome

Sirens sound as rockets land deep inside Israel.  Slideshow 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday refused to block new federal rules requiring gun dealers in four states bordering Mexico to report the sales of multiple semi-automatic rifles, a victory for the Obama administration.

The administration issued the reporting requirements last year despite opposition from the gun industry as part of a stepped-up effort to clamp down on the weapons flowing across the border to violent drug cartels in Mexico.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ordered more than 8,000 gun dealers in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to report the sale within five business days of two or more semiautomatic rifles to the same person.

That also includes rifles with a caliber greater than .22 and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine.

Mexican officials have complained bitterly about guns illegally coming from the United States. Tens of thousands of Mexicans have died in the drug wars since 2006 when the government there decided to take on the cartels.

Judge Rosemary Collyer, appointed to the bench by Republican President George W. Bush, found that the ATF's requirement was sufficiently narrowly tailored and that it was rational by focusing on the states that border Mexico.

"Congress has effected a delicate balance between ATF's regulation of firearms and the right to privacy held by lawful firearms owners," Collyer wrote in a 21-page ruling. The ATF's reporting requirement "did not disturb that balance."

Gun dealers backed by the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying organization, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation challenged the requirements arguing that it would effectively require national registration of firearms sales, which they said the ATF was not authorized to do.

The gun industry has also said that the rules will have no impact on the cartels but rather burden law-abiding retailers and that the reporting requirement was overly burdensome.

"If President (Barack) Obama gets a second term, I think law-abiding gun owners are going to see a lot more of it," Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, told Reuters.

"These drug cartels ... rape, they rob, they murder they throw people into lions' pits, they're not going to be deterred by a form. That must be some form," he said. The groups plan to appeal the ruling.

Some 36,000 reports of multiple handgun sales were made from the four border states in fiscal 2010, according to the ATF.

The decision came as the ATF has been under scrutiny in recent months after a sting operation to track guns being smuggled to Mexican cartels went awry.

(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Will Dunham)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Missourimule wrote:
Fine – but this was brought about by the gun running intentionally fed by our own justice department, and which resulted in the deaths of innocent people – both Mexican and American – and solely for the purpose of building public opinion against gun sales, under false pretenses. It’s one thing for our government to act in defense of our country, and make mistakes: but it’s quite another for them to become the enemy to our own people.

Jan 13, 2012 8:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.