Fighting Back: Lawsuits Challenge New Gun Sale Reporting Law
Firearms retailers, a leading industry trade organization, and Americans' most powerful gun lobby are making good on a threat to challenge the Obama administration’s attempt to assert gun control measures by executive fiat. The legal challenge is being supported by the Second Amendment Task Force, a bipartisan group of congressional legislators that asserts the ATF lacks the authority "to track the purchases of law-abiding Americans."
J&G Sales in Prescott, AZ, and Foothills Firearms in Yuma, AZ, intend to challenge the new ATF long-gun reporting rule focused on semi-automatic rifle sales in southwest border states. The rule would require gun shops to report the sale of five or more semi-automatic centerfire rifles to an individual within a week to the ATF.
The government claims that the rule is designed to help cut down on the straw purchase of multiple military-look rifles by gun smugglers working for the Mexican drug cartels. Critics point out the uselessness of the law, noting that the cartels would easily adapt to get around the requirement by simply sending straw purchasers to more shops or employing more purchasers. Critics also point to an existing handgun reporting law passed by Congress that the rifle reporting measure was based upon as proof of the reporting requirement's inherent failure, as pistols continue to flow over the border.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Rifle Association intend to bracket the Obama administration with a pair of lawsuits, challenging what they view as an attempt to unconstitutionally circumvent Congress and create de facto laws by executive branch mandate:
"[We] are committed to cooperating with ATF and other law enforcement agencies ... to investigate and enforce violations of firearms laws," according to a copy of the industry group’s lawsuit not yet filed in court. "However, Congress has conferred only limited authority on ATF to require federally-licensed firearms dealers to submit information regarding firearms sales. In this case, ATF's demand exceeds its authority and is prohibited under federal law."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defends the new reporting requirement: "Action we have taken is consistent with the law." He also claims, rather less credibly: "The measures that we are proposing are appropriate ones to stop the flow of guns from the United States into Mexico."
Holder’s words might have more credibility if agencies under his command were not under fire for running 2,020 guns into Mexico in “Operation Fast and Furious,” which led to the deaths of an estimated 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and the murders of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata. Fast and Furious was being used to run guns to Mexico, where the violence the government-allowed weapons program caused was used to justify the reporting requirement Holder is now defending:
Katie Pavlich broke the story yesterday of a ”smoking gun” email between ATF officials: Mark R Chait, assistant director for field operations with the ATF, copied ATF deputy assistant director for field operations on an email to William Newell, the special agent in charge (SAC) of the Phoenix Field Division:
"Bill – Can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same FfL and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a letter on long gun multiple sales."
Chait was asking Newell to use tracing data to support an initiative supported by the administration to require the reporting of multiple rifle sales.