The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is moving to require federally licensed firearms retailers to report multiple sales of modern sporting rifles beginning January 5, 2011. Specifically, the ATF requirement calls for firearm retailers to report multiple sales, or other dispositions, of two or more semi-automatic rifles that are larger than .22 caliber, capable of accepting a detachable magazine and are purchased by the same individual within five consecutive business days.
Today’s Washington Post suggests that the reporting mandate would be limited to retailers along the Southwest border; however, the Federal Register Notice does not limit the geographic scope of the reporting requirement.
This ATF “emergency” mandate was originally pushed by the anti-gun Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) coalition, headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, more than a year and a half ago. And the Post reports that the Department of Justice has “languished” over this plan for several months. Given this timetable, it’s hard to see exactly where the “emergency” is.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation opposes this reporting requirement because it further burdens America’s law-abiding firearms retailers with yet another onerous regulation that will do nothing to curb crime. Multiple sales reporting of long guns will actually make it more difficult for licensed retailers to help law enforcement as traffickers modify their illegal schemes to circumvent the reporting requirement, thereby driving traffickers further underground. This is not unlike how criminals maneuvered around one-gun-a-month laws in states like Virginia – which is still considered an “exporting source state” by anti-gun organizations like the MAIG despite its restrictions on the number of firearms law-abiding residents may purchase.
Multiple sales reporting for long guns is an ill-considered mandate and one that ATF does not have the legal authority to unilaterally impose. In fact, ATF has not specified under what legal authority it presumes to act. The decision as to whether ATF can move forward with this agenda-driven mandate will be left to Cass Sunstein who heads the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). This is the same Cass Sunstein who in a 2007 speech at Harvard University said, “We ought to ban hunting, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law. It’s time now.”
NSSF will be submitting comments in opposition to this registration scheme and is encouraging all firearms retailers, sportsmen and enthusiasts to do the same.
Please voice your concern by doing the following:
1. Call the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulation Affairs, Department of Justice, Desk Officer at (202) 395-6466.
2. E-mail Barbara A. Terrell, ATF, Firearms Industry Programs Branch at Barbara.Terrell@atf.gov
3. Call your Senators and Representative: United States Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Points to make:
- Multiple sales reporting of long guns will actually make it more difficult for licensed retailers to help law enforcement as traffickers modify their illegal schemes to circumvent the reporting requirement. Traffickers will go further underground, hiring more people to buy their firearms. This will make it much harder for retailers to identify and report suspicious behavior to law enforcement.
- Long guns are rarely used in crime (Bureau of Justice Statistics).
- Imposing multiple sales-reporting requirements for long guns would further add to the already extensive paperwork and record-keeping requirements burdening America’s retailers – where a single mistake could cost them their license and even land them in jail.
- Last year, ATF inspected 2,000 retailers in border states and only two licenses were revoked (0.1%). These revocations were for reasons unknown and could have had nothing to do with illicit trafficking of guns; furthermore, no dealers were charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
- According to ATF, the average age of a firearm recovered in the United States is 11 years old. In Mexico it’s more than 14 years old. This demonstrates that criminals are not using new guns bought from retailers in the states.
- Congress, when it enacted multiple sales reporting for handguns, could have required multiple sales of long guns – it specifically chose not to.