Monday, 01 August 2011

ATF to Investigate Purchasers of Two or More Rifles in Five-day Period

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ATFTwo weeks ago, concerned about news reports that President Obama would order the investigation of citizens buying two or more rifles at a time, a licensed Texas gun dealer contacted his local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) official to find out if the reports were true, so he could be in compliance. The ATF official assured him that he was aware of such legislation having been considered, but added, “The law is not going to pass, and we can’t enforce something that isn’t law.” This week, however, gun dealers and pawnshop owners across the country received a certified letter from the ATF requiring just such compliance.

The letter received by the dealer (viewable at, and personally examined by this writer) requires gun dealers in the states bordering Mexico (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California) to report the sale or disposition of two or more semi-automatic rifles of certain types to the same person during a five-day period. Compliance with the new demand is to begin on August 14, 2011. The rifles in question are those capable of accepting a detachable magazine and with a caliber great than .22 (including .223/5.56 caliber).

The demand letter orders gun dealers to report to the feds any sales of “two or more pistols or revolvers, or any combination of pistols or revolvers totaling two or more.” Currently, dealers are required to report the purchase of two or more handguns within a five-day period, but a significant difference is in place with the new requirement. Handgun purchases are to be reported to the local chief of police and the FBI, but the multiple-rifle purchase reports are to go directly to the ATF — presumably so that the ATF can investigate the purchases, rather than having to wait until after the commission of a crime to use the information, as do police officers. This action effectively places the burden of proof on the dealer, and as the website notes, forces him to spy on his customers.

Constitutionalists point out that the agency's new ruling is both unconstitutional and illegal, as the ATF is attempting to enforce a law which was never passed. According to, this ruling was “stripped entirely from the text of the regulation” when it came before Congress for a vote; however, the Obama administration is pushing it anyway. The President is on record as implementing restrictions on the Second Amendment “under the radar” — bypassing Congress through executive order.

Critics of the ruling cite the first sentence in the ATF letter — “To assist its [the ATF's] effort in investigation and combating the illegal movement of firearms along and across the Southwest border…” — as an example of the agency claiming it is trying to prevent the very thing that it has done itself: helping to move firearms illegally across the border. As is now well documented, the ATF’s disastrous operation Fast and Furious sanctioned the purchase of weapons in the U.S. by straw buyers, who in turn handed them off to gunrunners, who moved them across the Mexican border to cartel criminals. Supposedly the ATF was to track these weapons in order to discover smuggling routes, and to lead to cartel bosses. But the operation was "fast and furious" in going haywire, as the ATF stopped tracking the guns at the border. So in reality, the firearms were never tracked at all; and damningly, some were even found in the firefight in which Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered.

Critics of the ATF action point in particular to what they see as hubris in the P.S. of the ATF letter to gunshop owners: “The information is used to determine whether the buyer (transferee) may be involved in unlawful activity, such as straw purchasing.” (Emphasis added.)

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