ATF’s long gun reporting reg raises furor
by Joseph P. Tartaro
By the time you read this, federal firearms licensees (FFLs) may or may not be required to file Form 3310.4, multiple sale reports, on the sale or other disposition of two or more semi-automatic rifles of .22 or larger caliber, that accept detachable magazines, to the same purchaser within a five-business-day period.
Why is the issue pending? Because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has filed for approval of a new regulation, published in the Federal Register in December, on an “emergency” basis in order to implement a new regulation effective Jan. 5, 2011. As this issue goes to press on Jan. 3, that approval is still pending, and it is unclear who or when FFLs will be required to comply.
The proposed regulation has caused a furor, not only within the firearms industry and among gunowners, but among members of the House and Senate. Almost immediately after the ATF proposal became public, it was denounced by the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the industry trade association, in both houses of Congress, and on the Internet.
On Dec. 23, Montana’s Congressman Denny Rehberg along with 33 co-signers sent a bipartisan letter to ATF’s acting director questioning the “emergency” information request. The same day, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester (both D-MT) also wrote a letter of opposition.
“It’s not just the new rule gun advocates object to, it’s the presumption that buying multiple guns is a questionable activity that ought to be monitored,” said Rehberg, a member of the Second Amendment Task Force.
“We cross a line when the federal government starts keeping tabs on citizens who are exercising their Constitutional rights in a completely legal manner. This isn’t about partisanship or politicsthis is about standing up for liberty.”
Baucus and Tester concluded their letter by saying “Again, we urge the BATFE to refrain from implementing these unnecessary one-size-fits-all regulations and bypassing the transparent legislative process. The border situation requires serious deliberative review but using the regulatory rule-making process at the expense of law-abiding American citizens is not the right way forward.”
The idea of multiple sales reporting for long guns was first advanced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and was immediately embraced by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Then in September, an unflattering Justice Department draft report of ATF’s progress in stemming the illegal export of guns to Mexico dubbed “Project Gunrunner” questioned the agency’s ability to implement such a proposal without congressional authority.
Further complicating the issue was a report by the Washington Post that claimed the new multiple sale recording regulation would affect only about 8,000 licensees in four states along the border with MexicoCalifornia, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. However, the ATF’s notice of ruling making does not specify only those states, but is worded to make it applicable to all licensees nationwide.
The Post reported that the Department of Justice had “languished” over the proposal for several months.
However, NSSF’s Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence Keane noted that “Given this timetable, it’s hard to see exactly where the ‘emergency’ is.”
He noted that NSSF opposes the new reporting requirement because it further burdens America’s law-abiding firearms retailers with yet another onerous regulation that will do nothing to curb crime, and will actually make it more difficult for licensed retailers to help law enforcement.
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