This is a long-anticipated move by the Justice Department in the wake of the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. It was quickly branded as a political maneuver by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who has been leading the investigation of the botched gun trafficking sting mounted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It also brought a quick reaction from Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) who initially began digging into Fast and Furious in late January.
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The new rule announcement reads:
STATEMENT OF DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES COLE REGARDING INFORMATION REQUESTS FOR MULTIPLE SALES OF SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLES WITH DETACHABLE MAGAZINES
WASHINGTON – Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued the following statement today regarding information requests for multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines in select states along the Southwest Border:
“The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border. This new reporting measure — tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period — will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border.”
SOME BACKGROUND FROM DOJ:
To address the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico, ATF will send an information request to Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) in the four Southwest Border states: Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The point of this request is to provide a targeted approach to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking through sales to “straw purchasers,” people who claim to be the true buyers of firearms but in reality are purchasing firearms on behalf of others.
ATF will tailor the information request to address the specific threat. It applies only to firearms dealers in the four border states, and its prospective reporting requirements apply only if a firearms dealer sells within five business days to a single individual two or more long guns having all of the following characteristics:
o Semi-automatic action;
o A caliber greater than .22, including .223 caliber firearms; and
o The ability to accept a detachable magazine.
The issuance of ATF's information request follows two periods of public notice and comment, as required by law. On December 17, 2010, ATF published a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comments on the information request for 60 days. After reviewing the comments submitted in response to this notice, ATF published a second notice in the Federal Register on April 29, 2011, requesting public comments for 30 days. OMB reviewed the last set of public comments before approving the information collection request.
Here is Issa’s blistering response:
“This political maneuver seems designed to protect the careers of political appointees at the Justice Department and not public safety. It’s disconcerting that Justice Department officials who may have known about or tried to cover-up gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious are continuing attempts to distract attention from clear wrongdoing. In Operation Fast and Furious, gun dealers didn’t need this regulation as they voluntarily provided ATF agents with information about suspected straw purchasers. In return for this voluntary cooperation, the Justice Department betrayed them by offering false assurances that they would closely monitor sales of weapons that dealers otherwise did not want to make.” Read more
Source: Washington Gun Rights Examiner
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