Gun shops in four border states soon will be receiving letters from the federal government, requesting information about their sales of multiple long guns, involving semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines.
The federal effort, which will affect Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico, is an attempt to “confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a statement issued Monday.
According to Department of Justice spokesperson Tracy Schmaler, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will monitor these types of sales only if a firearms dealer sells (within five business days) to a single individual, two or more semi-automatic long guns, with a caliber greater than .22 (including .223), and the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
The Office of Management and Budget reviewed the final public comments before approving the new regulations.
“The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States,” Cole said in regard to the new requests for information from gun dealers.
“Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than.22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border,” he added.
"This new reporting measure...will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations," he said.
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS RESPOND
Republican Congressional leaders investigating ATF’s questionable strategies related to the Fast and Furious case are already speaking out about the new policy.
“We’ve learned from our investigation of Fast and Furious that reporting multiple long gun sales would do nothing to stop the flow of firearms to known straw purchasers because many Federal Firearms Dealers are already voluntarily reporting suspicious transactions,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement.
“...we are aware of 150 multiple long guns sales associated with ATF's Fast and Furious case, and despite the fact that nearly all of these sales were reported in real time by cooperating gun dealers," he said, "the ATF watched the guns be transported from known straw purchasers to third parties and then let the guns walk away, often across the border."
"The administration’s continued overreach with regulations continues, and is a distraction from its reckless policy to allow guns to walk into Mexico.”
THE BRADY CAMPAIGN RESPONDS
“We are pleased that President Obama is moving forward to require reporting of multiple rifle sales in the border states, giving federal law enforcement an important new tool to fight gun trafficking from U.S. dealers into Mexico," The Brady Campaign Acting President, Dennis Henigan, said in a statement.
The organization refers to itself as the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.
“We are hopeful that the initiative announced today will be but the first step by the Administration to craft and promote a new and far-reaching program to prevent gun trafficking and ensure safety and security of American and Mexican families alike,” Henigan said.
NRA INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION RESPONSE
"This is 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," said Chris W. Cox, the Executive Director of the NRA-ILA.
"This scheme will unjustly burden law-abiding retailers in border states. It will not affect drug cartels and and it won't prevent violence along our borders. ATF and the Administration lacks the statutory authority to do this and the NRA will file suit as soon as ATF sends the first demand letters," he said.
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