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ATF Tries to Bypass Congress

January 3rd, 2011 · Posted by · 2 Comments · News

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) appears to be attempting to bypass the Gun Control Act, in turn, creating a national firearms registry.

On December 20th, 2010, Acting Director of ATF, Ken Melson, announced Demand Letters for Multiple Sales of Specific Long Guns in Four Border States. This action would require Federal Licensed Firearms dealers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas report purchaser information when two, or more, of certain long guns are purchased (semi-auto rifles) within five days. These reports would include the purchaser’s personal identifying information, as well as specific information on the rifles.

ATF outlined their intent with these three points:

1. The reporting requirement will apply only to FFLs doing business in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, which are major source states for crime guns seized in Mexico and traced to federal firearms licensees.

2. The reporting requirement applies only to those rifles having all of the following characteristics:

  • A semi-automatic action;
  • A caliber greater than .22; and
  • The ability to accept a detachable magazine.

3. We propose to implement this initiative as a pilot project for a period of one year.

While many take exception to the collection of this information, which is illegal under 18 USC §926(a), almost unnoticed is that this is a “pilot program” that would lay the groundwork for a nationwide gun registry.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) notes the Federal Register Notice does not limit the geographic scope of the reporting requirement.

Acting Director Melson noted in his 12/20 webcast that this is “a pilot project”.

The definition of a Pilot Program, courtesy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology:

The accepted definition of ‘pilot program’ means a limited roll out of a new system in order to test it under real world conditions, prior to use by an entire organization.

Almost all gun registries in history have turned into lists used by law enforcement to go door-to-door, disarming law abiding citizens by confiscating private property and a citizen’s primary means of self-defense. These confiscations were usually done under the guise of crime fighting measures, but in reality, resulted in oppressive control of law abiding citizens.

The ATF is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to ignore the laws of the United States, for the greater good. Yes, a Federal Agency is asking another Federal Agency for permission to violate U.S. law and ignore Congress.

I doubt anybody would disagree with the stated goals of the ATF request, but there are ways to disrupt criminal smuggling enterprises without creating data files of law abiding citizens and burdening small businesses. Law enforcement operations that disrupt smuggling routes across our border with Mexico would surely accomplish more than additional paperwork.

NSSF recommends that you voice your concern by doing the following:

1. Call the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulation Affairs, Department of Justice, Desk Officer at (202) 395-6466.

2. E-mail Barbara A. Terrell, ATF, Firearms Industry Programs Branch at

3. Call your Senators and Representative: United States Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

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