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The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the U.S. firearms trade association. Last year, I contacted the industry lobby group about the Gunwalker scandal. Their take on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) messing with their members, encouraging southern gun dealer to allow illegal purchases and then taking them to court for it: talk to the NRA. Meanwhile, do you know about our Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign? We’ve been working with the ATF since 2000. Yes, well, now that the ATF has rammed through an unconstitutional long gun registry for 8500 NSSF members near the Mexican border the gloves are off . . .

The NSSF today filed a lawsuit challenging the legal authority of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the Gun Control Act to compel 8,500 federally licensed firearms retailers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report the sale of two or more rifles [click here for the text of the complaint].

Specifically, the regulation calls for reporting multiple sales of any semi-automatic rifle larger than .22 caliber and capable of accepting a detachable magazine that are purchased following an FBI background check by the same individual within five consecutive business days.

NSSF’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks an injunction to block ATF from implementing the reporting requirement. ATF has sent “demand letters” to firearms retailers in the four states to inform retailers they must begin reporting such sales by August 14.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane pointed out that if ATF can require this record-keeping and reporting requirement of law-abiding retailers in these four states simply by sending a letter demanding the information, then there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee, anywhere in the country, for as long as ATF wants. “This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope,’ and our industry is extremely concerned about it,” said Keane.

Keane added, “At the time Congress authorized the reporting of multiple sales of handguns, it could have required it for the sale of long guns, but it did not. Acting ATF Director Ken Melson himself has questioned ATF’s legal authority to impose this new requirement.”

Despite its lawsuit, NSSF is encouraging all retailers, not just those along the Southwest border, to continue to cooperate with law enforcement and report any suspicious activity to the ATF. “The firearms industry and NSSF take pride in having a longstanding cooperative relationship with ATF,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “Retailers have long been considered a vital source of information for law enforcement in combating illegal firearm trafficking.”

Even if ATF had the legal authority to require multiple sales reporting for long guns, NSSF believes the policy would still be unwise to implement. “We believe the policy will make it more difficult for retailers to assist law enforcement,” said Keane. Illegal firearms traffickers will simply alter their schemes to avoid and evade the reporting requirement, making it more difficult for retailers to identify and report suspicious activity. For example, traffickers could simply recruit more “straw purchasers” and have them illegally purchase firearms from multiple licensees, or simply move their illegal trafficking activities to other states where the reporting requirement does not exist . . .

Also today lawyers representing the National Rifle Association filed a separate lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging ATF’s requirement for reporting multiple sales of rifles.

President Obama’s administration green-lighted the ATF’s plan to create a long gun registry by executive order, violating federal law and circumventing the legislative process. This as the ATF is embroiled in a scandal where they have admitted that they, themselves, have participated in the crime the new regulation is designed to enforce.

If President Obama didn’t know the ATF Long Gun Registry would stir up a hornet’s nest of gun rights resistance, that the new law would coalesce and motivate the political forces ranged against him (including gun owning independents), he’s a fool. Or a smart man blinded by ideology.

Does it matter? The real story: the Long Gun Registry proves that the ATF is a rogue agency whose contempt for American gun rights is both boundless and incurable. Ipso facto. Now that the NSSF and the NRA have stopped playing footsie with the ATF, they need to join the growing calls for the Agency’s dissolution.

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  1. Ralph’s Rule Number 1: don’t piss off your regulators. The industry can’t call for disbanding the ATF, because if it doesn’t happen the ATF will punish the industry. Fighting the ATF on one issue is fine. It’s even expected. No hard feelings. Trying to put the Agency out of business is suicidal.

  2. “[T]he firearms industry is being used–actually exploited–by criminals…”

    Oh, do you mean ATF criminals like SAC Bill Newell and ASAC George Gillette, who helped to orchestrate the gunwalking scheme known as Operation Fast and Furious?

  3. NSSF does not support the call for disbanding ATF. While there are serious questions regarding Fast & Furisous which must be answered by the White House, DOJ and ATF, we do not believe disbanding ATF and moving its law enforcement and regulatory functions in to one or more other federal agencies would be appropriate. The regulation of the industry would not end if ATF were disbanded. The function would simply be transferred to another agency, not unlike how ATF was moved from Treasury to Justice.


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