Win for Obama Admin: Federal Judge Backs ATF Multiple Rifle Sales Reporting

On Friday, a federal judge upheld the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ mandate that requires gun dealers (FFLs) in border-states (Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico) to track and report individuals who purchase more than one semi-automatic rifle – with detachable magazine, greater than .22 caliber – within a five day period.

The ostensible purpose of the reporting requirement is to thwart illicit gun trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border where strawbuyers purchase ‘assault weapons’ for Mexican drug cartels and gangs. 

Since 2006, it’s believed that tens of thousands of Mexicans have been killed by firearms that were illegally trafficked from the U.S. 

The reporting requirement will directly affect approximately 8,500 weapons dealers in those aforementioned border-States.

The Obama Administration in conjunction with the ATF and the Justice Department instituted the reporting requirement last year despite opposition from gun organizations like the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

Over the summer, the NSSF filed a lawsuit arguing that the ATF clearly exceeded its lawful authority under the Gun Control Act by enacting such a measure without the consent of Congress (for more on this challenge, click here). 

But a Bush II-appointed judge, Judge Rosemary Collyer, ruled that there was no abuse of authority.  She found that the ATF’s requirement was both rational and narrowly tailored enough to comply with the existing law. 

“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.”

Obviously, the top brass at the NRA and the NSSF disagree with Collyer’s ruling.  NRA Executive VP, Wayne LaPierre spoke to Reuters about the ineffectual nature of the tracking requirement and the larger implications of the judge’s decision. 

“If President (Barack) Obama gets a second term, I think law-abiding gun owners are going to see a lot more of it,” LaPierre said. 

“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.

Both the NRA and the NSSF plan to appeal the ruling.

The decision came as the ATF has been under heavy fire for the failed gunwalking operation known as Fast and Furious.  Guns from that operation were not sufficiently tracked by ATF authorities and ended up in the hands of known Mexican drug cartels. 

What wasn’t considered in the judge’s ruling is the fact that the ATF planned to use the tragic repercussions of Operation: Fast and Furious to push forward the multiple-sales reporting requirement – in a sense, stacking the deck in its favor (click here to read more).

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the point man behind the Senate’s investigation into F&F, explained this connection in statement to CBS. 

“There’s plenty of evidence showing that this administration planned to use the tragedies of Fast and Furious as rationale to further their goals of a long gun reporting requirement.”

“But, we’ve learned from our investigation 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,” he added. 

“It’s pretty clear that the problem isn’t lack of burdensome reporting requirements.”

The ATF welcomed the court’s decision and explained that it was all in “an effort to increase ATF’s ability to detect and disrupt the illegal firearms trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce into the hands of criminal gangs that threaten law abiding citizens.”