The budget bill passed in the Republican-led House of Representatives Saturday includes an amendment that blocks a request from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives [ATF] for emergency powers ATF officials say will help stop the flow of guns to Mexican drug cartels.
The ATF has asked that all firearms dealers in the four border states temporarily be required to report the sale of two or more rifles in less than five days to the same buyer.
“By obtaining information about these multiple sales, ATF increases the likelihood of uncovering and disrupting trafficking schemes before the firearms make their way into Mexico,” acting ATF Director Ken Melson said in a statement.
The Obama administration has yet to accept or reject the ATF request, but The Hill reports the bill would make that decision moot. The House budget bill’s fate will be determined in the Senate.
Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) sponsored the amendment, which passed 277 to 149. According to The Hill:
Forty-one Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and two Republicans – Reps. Peter King (N.Y.) and Brian Bilbray (Calif.) – opposed it. King, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has often been at odds with GOP leaders over gun reform.
“The ATF has no legal authority to demand these reports,” Boren said in statement. He said that ATF was trying to circumvent Congressional authority because there are not enough votes in the House to approve this new regulation.
“This new regulation would create a flood of new reports that will further waste already scarce law enforcement resources,” Boren added. The rule change would also, “compromise the privacy of their customers by cataloguing [sic] personal information in a database,” he said.
According to Boren’s website, “The amendment was fully supported by the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), an organization representing the firearms industry, says the rule change would make it more difficult for firearms retailers to identify suspicious buyers and alert the ATF because traffickers will begin to buy their guns at multiple locations.
“Illegal firearms traffickers engaged in acquiring firearms to smuggle into Mexico will simply and rapidly modify their illegal schemes to circumvent the reporting requirement,” the NSSF says.