The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) sent a letter yesterday to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Office of Management and Budget commenting on ATF’s proposal to require as part of a year-long “pilot program” that federally licensed firearms retailers in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California report to ATF the multiple sales of certain rifles (Federal Register, December 17, 2010).The NSSF's letter can be found here.
In its letter, NSSF explains that it respectfully disagrees with ATF’s proposal because Congress has not provided ATF the legal authority under the Gun Control Act to impose this reporting requirement and, perhaps more importantly, because NSSF believes that this reporting requirement will actually make it more difficult for firearms retailers to help law enforcement since illegal firearms traffickers will easily modify their illegal schemes to circumvent the new reporting requirement.
While NSSF opposes ATF’s proposal, it remains committed to strongly encouraging all firearms retailers to contact ATF whenever they suspect an illegal straw purchase or other efforts to acquire firearms for illegal purposes.
I found this part of their letter particularly interesting.
The information collection request published by ATF in the Federal Register (75 Fed. Reg. 79021, Dec. 17, 2010) is inconsistent with public statements by ATF (See remarks by Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, December 20, 2010 at http://www.atf.gov/press/releases/2010/12/122010-hdqrts-melson-webcast.html, “ATF Remarks”) and subsequent news reports. First, the information collection request itself applies to all federal firearms licensees everywhere in the United States. It is not geographically limited to licensed firearms dealers located in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California (See ATF Remarks, supra). The notice does not say the collection of information will be for one year, as stated by Acting Director Melson.
The notice also underestimates the burden on licensees. ATF appears assume that only one form per dealer will be filled out per year. Not basis is set forth for this conclusion and we are left to speculate. The time estimate of 12 minutes we believe underestimates the burden on small dealers especially those that have not sold handguns and are not familiar will completing the multiple sales form for handguns. The burden and cost to dealers is also not limited to filling out the form itself. ATF underestimates the burden and cost to dealers – particularly small dealers – to implement processes to ensure compliance wit this new reporting requirement, e.g. that one employee doesn’t accidentally sell and fail to report a perfectly legal rifle to a customer to whom another employee sold a rifle within the five day window.
Buyers will no longer be protected by FOPA. Never before, not even in situations where demand-letters have been permitted, has the required information included the identity of the transferors. Blaustein & Reich, Inc. v. Buckles, 365 F.3d 281 (4th Cir. 2004).