As the U.S. Congress re-discovers the truth of the old adage home is where the pork is, they do so without voting on the nomination of Andrew “Anti-Assault Rifle” Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires). Unless the Obama administration resorts to a recess appointment, Traver’s destined to be a political punching bag for the influx of pro-gun Republicans heading for the halls of power in the New Year, with no chance of emerging unscathed. Meanwhile, opposition’s growing to the ATF’s “emergency” long gun registration—aimed at stemming the unquantified trickle of sem-automatic rifles from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg and 33 of his Beltway BFFs sent a letter to one Barack Obama telling him to back the f off. It Reids as follows:
Dear Mr. President:
We write to you today regarding the emergency request from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that was published in the Federal Register on Friday December 17th, 2010. As you know, this request asks the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve an information collection that would require federally licensed firearm dealers to report the sales of two or more semiautomatic rifles to the same customer within a five-day period.
Despite the institution of a 60-day public comment period on this change, the ATF intends to begin collecting this information as soon as January 5, 2011. We are strongly opposed to this request by the ATF, and to any further efforts to regulate the sale of firearms through emergency notices and paperwork changes that have not been properly vetted by Congress or by the affected public.
Implementing the ATF’s proposal would subject firearms dealers and their customers to new, onerous requirements that would inevitably track and catalogue the purchases of law-abiding gun owners. And while Congress has authorized multiple sales reporting for handguns, we have never extended this authority to other types of firearms. Expanding this power by executive decree would be an end run around Congress.
Under current law, the ATF already has extensive powers to inspect the sales records of firearms dealers and investigate suspicious transactions. We encourage your Administration to reconsider this ill-conceived change to the reporting requirements, and instead utilize the ATF’s existing authority to ensure that firearms dealers are in compliance with the law.