NRA: We’ll sue over new reporting rule for multiple gun buys
Posted by Josh Gerstein 06:16 PM July 11, 2011 POLITICO
The National Rifle Association is vowing to sue the Obama administration after it announced Monday that it will begin to require gun dealers in four border states to send reports to the government following multiple sales of some semi-automatic longarms.
“They don’t have the statutory authority to do it and we’ll file a lawsuit as soon as the first letters are sent” demanding the sales information from dealers, the NRA’s legislative director Chris Cox told POLITICO Monday afternoon.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms announced in December that it planned to implement the rule on an emergency basis beginning in January in order to reduce the flow of assault weapons across the border into Mexico. However, the Office of Management and Budget rejected the emergency “information collection” and told ATF to proceed with a full, formal process and public comment period. The final proposed rule was made public on April 29.
Obama administration officials denied that the decision to proceed with the new reporting requirement or the timing of its implementation had anything to do with the controversy over and Congressional investigation into an ATF’s “Operation Fast & Furious,” which allegedly lost track of more than 100 weapons suspected of being headed for Mexican drug cartels. Two of those weapons showed up at the scene of the killing of a Border Patrol agent in December.
“The White House did not delay its consideration of ATF’s request,” OMB spokeswoman Meg Reilly said. She said “OMB determined after careful review that ATF’s request did not satisfy” the standards for an emergency data collection and was required to go through the full notice and comment process before implementation.
Cox accused the Obama administration of making an end-run around Congress, which has approved mandatory reporting of multiple handgun purchases, but did not include long-arms or so-called assault weapons in that requirement.
“Because the American people don’t approve of his gun-control agenda, he’s trying to circumvent Congress, the NRA official said of Obama. “The whole thing is a disraction away from the gross incompetence that we’ve seen in this Fast & Furious scandal…The truth is a $40 billion criminal enterprise is not going to be worried about paperwork violations. This is not a serious attempt at controlling the drug cartels.”
However, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the reporting requirement–which does not block any purchases–will help in that fight.
“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,” Cole said in a statement. “This new reporting measure — tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period — will improve the ability [of the government] to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has been pushing for answers about Fast & Furious, also said he believes the new rule is a diversion.
“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,” Grassley said in a statement. He said Congressional investigators are aware of at least150 long gun sales that ATF knew about but didn’t prevent from reaching Mexico.
“This makes it pretty clear that the problem isn’t lack of burdensome reporting requirements. The administration’s continued overreach with regulations continues, and is a distraction from its reckless policy to allow guns to walk into Mexico,” Grassley said.
The ATF operation is also under investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.
A Justice Department spokeswoman had no comment on the NRA’s planned lawsuit.
The Obama administration’s decision to move forward with the new reporting rule for long guns purchased in border states was first reported by Newsweek/Daily Beast.