An editorial in today’s Washington Post discussed the recent decision by ATF to require federally licensed firearms retailers along the Southwest border to report multiple sales, or other dispositions, of most semi-automatic rifles. Specifically this would impact 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.
Though the Post supports this ill-advised proposal, it did acknowledge the legitimacy surrounding one of industry’s objections:
“When reports of its plan surfaced, the administration came under immediate attack from the gun rights lobby. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, argued that the administration lacked the legal authority to demand data on rifles and shotguns. It has a point: While Congress authorized the ATF to collect information on handgun sales, it declined to extend the requirement to long guns. A court is likely to be asked to decide whether demand letters may be used to shake loose this information …”
NSSF continues to oppose multiple sales reporting of semi-automatic rifles. Such reporting requirements 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.
NSSF would also like to remind all members of industry, sportsmen and gun owners to voice their concerns 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
4. Send an already formatted cap-wiz letter.
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.