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Federal Court Upholds Obama/Holder Gun Registration Scheme; Congressional Action Needed

Friday, January 13, 2012

Moments before this alert was to go out, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. issued a ruling upholding an Obama administration policy that requires federally licensed firearms retailers in states bordering Mexico to report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles.  The case was brought by two NRA-backed firearms retailers and by the National Shooting Sports Foundation acting on behalf of its affected members.  Plaintiffs plan to appeal immediately—but in the meantime, your help is urgently needed in seeking congressional action to end this illegal policy.

Devised by Attorney General  Eric Holder’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the plan requires all of the 8,700 firearm dealers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to report all sales of two or more semi-automatic rifles within five consecutive business days, if the rifles are larger than .22 caliber and use detachable magazines.  (The plaintiffs in the case pointed out that this was about 20 times more dealers than had been subject to any similar “demand letter” before, but in today's decision the court nonetheless found the new requirement “limited in scope.”)

In July, the Justice Department announced that it would proceed with the controversial reporting procedure.  During consideration of the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, pro-gun U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) offered an amendment in committee to prohibit the use of funds for the unauthorized reporting plan and the amendment was passed by a vote of 25-16.  Unfortunately, the Rehberg amendment did not make it through the appropriations process.

Much has transpired since then regarding BATFEs’ failed “Operation Fast and Furious,” and evidence is now clear that “Fast and Furious” was used as justification to force the multiple sales reporting requirement.

In early December, CBS News reported that BATFE “discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.”  In particular, agency officials wanted guns to fall into Mexican drug cartel hands and be traced back to gun dealers in the U.S. to make a case for requiring the multiple sales reporting.

According to CBS, “Emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called Demand Letter 3.  That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or ‘long guns.’”

CBS singled out a July 14, 2010 email sent by BATFE Field Operations Assistant Director Mark Chait to Bill Newell, the agency’s Special Agent in Charge in Phoenix, where “Fast and Furious” was based.  In the email, Chait asked Newell to “see if these guns were all purchased from the same [licensed gun dealer] and at one time.  We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales.”

Last March, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced S. 570 -- "a bill to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns."  The bill would prohibit the use of federal money needed to fund the multiple sales reporting requirement.

It is imperative that you contact your U.S. Senators and ask them to cosponsor and support S. 570.  You can find contact information for your elected officials by using the "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org, or you can call your U.S. senators at (202) 224-3121. 

S. 570 currently has 33 cosponsors.  To see if your senators are cosponsors, please click here:  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SN00570:@@@P

Again, it is critically important that you contact your U.S. Senators as soon as possible and urge them to cosponsor and support S. 570, and defeat the Obama/Holder Gun Registration Scheme.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.