A plan proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that required citizens to supply records of certain guns sales has been blocked. The plan would have forced firearm dealers in southwestern states to report frequent sales of semi-automatic rifles that that are larger than .22 caliber and are compatible with detachable cartridges — in other words, some of America’s most popular guns.
The purpose of the plan was to track the sale of guns to Mexican drug cartels. One rather unfortunate side effect is that it would violate the privacy of gun owners who purchase the weapons for legal activities.
Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg spearheaded an amendment to block the funding that would be required for this plan. Not only did the ATF’s plan step on privacy rights, but Rehberg added that it, “exceeds the authority granted to the agency by Congress.” Rehberg (and Guns.com) also seriously doubted the ability of the plan to effectively hinder drug cartels.
You want to know what the really silly thing about all of this is? The ATF has access to these records anyway. The ATF can check out firearm transaction records during criminal investigations or to enforce record keeping requirements. That’s acceptable — they just need a legitimate reason to check out gun records.
We really ought to take a moment to thank Rehberg for sticking up for the rights of gun owners. His state wouldn’t have even been affected by the AFT’s plans (it would’ve hit California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico), but he still devoted the time and energy to nip it in the bud. Hat’s off to you, Rehberg.