Comments filed with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives opposing Multiple Rifle Sale Reporting (take two)

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

For the second time in as many months, our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation, expressing opposition to the ATF’s continuing effort to require federally licensed firearms dealers (FFL’s) to report to ATF information regarding the sale of multiple rifles.

Purportedly concerned about firearms being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels, three years ago ATF snuck past the courts a requirement that all FFLs located in the four southwest border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) must report to the ATF any sale to a single person of two or more rifles within a five day period.

Then, in April, in a brazen move under cover of the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act, ATF announced that it would extend its multiple rifle reporting requirement to every FFL in the country, and to all multiple sales regardless of whether they were sold to the same person.

Our firm filed comments with ATF on behalf of GOA and GOF, contending that there was absolutely no justification for such a universal requirement. ATF has never alleged that its claim concerning arms trafficking involves virtually every FFL in the country. Indeed, our comments charge that ATF’s expansion of the multiple rifle sales reporting requirement is a significant step towards the creation of a national gun registry prohibited by federal law.

Within days of our initial comments, ATF backed off, withdrawing its initial notice and replacing it with an amended notice, limiting its requirement to the same four border states and sales made to the same person.

An article by GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt in the American Thinker explains what happened.

In response, our firm filed a second set of comments with ATF, this time pointing out the illegality of ATF’s action under the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 which expressly limited the reporting of multiple firearm sales only to handguns. Additionally, our comments pointed out that, in 1986, ATF acknowledged the handgun limitation in a letter, submitted to the Senate Judiciary, opposing the Act. Finally, we recited Congress’s list of findings, including the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, upon which the Senate and the House were basing the Act’s design — in order to impose significant limits on ATF’s law enforcement powers.

Whether this second effort will pay dividends, as did the first, we don’t know yet. In any event we will continue to combat the ATF and the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to undermine our Second Amendment rights.Link to comments