Scoffing at the idea that Mexican drug lords will fill out federal gun purchase documents, the NRA tells Whispers that they are launching a legal offensive against a new rule requiring Southwest gun dealers to report sales of more than one semiautomatic rifle like the popular AK-47 target gun.
National Rifle Association officials say that the rule, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, will be appealed the minute the agency sends the demand letters to dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas regarding the sales of the weapons equipped with detachable magazines and capable of shooting a round larger than .22 caliber.
"The suit will be filed as soon as the first demand letters are sent by ATF," said the NRA in a statement to Whispers.
NRA officials see the new policy as the first step by the Obama administration to institute gun control following the tragic shooting in Tuscon, Arizona of Rep. Gabby Giffords and the slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the Arizona border. [See political cartoons about Obama.]
The NRA and congressional critics also see the new policy as a way to divert attention away from the "Fast and Furious" scandal, where ATF sought to track the flow of guns into Mexico by selling weapons to buyers linked with the drug cartels. Many of those have been lost and used in drug crimes.
In announcing the new policy, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said, "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." [Read more about gun control and gun rights.]
Actually getting to the drug gangs and cartels by checking the sales of two or more semiautomatic rifles at Southwest gun stores is silly, said the NRA.
"The whole premise that a $40 billion trans-national criminal enterprise, that according to recent reports uses submarines to transport their cargo, will pay attention to a paperwork requirement, is preposterous. The real issue here is the abysmal lack of prosecutions of gun crimes by the Obama/Holder Justice Department. Their reluctance and/or inability to enforce existing gun laws undermines any request they have for new laws," the group argues.
Which is why they think it's a new bid at gun control. Backing up their concerns, the NRA put this statement on their lobbying website:
"As we pass the six-month anniversary of the tragic Tucson shooting, multiple press reports indicate the Obama administration is planning to unveil new, but unspecified, gun control initiatives.
"At a Thursday briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, 'As you know, the president directed the attorney general to form working groups with key stakeholders to identify common-sense measures that would improve Americans' safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights. That process is well underway at the Department of Justice with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues. And we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future.
"Carney provided no further details on the initiatives, but he isn't the only one saying something is in the works. According to a related article on NPR.org, U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) said, 'I have spoken to the president. He is with me on [gun control], and it's just going to be when that opportunity comes forward that we're going to be able to go forward.' And longtime anti-gun activist Sarah Brady has said that in March, the president told her 'I just want you to know that we are working on [gun control] ... We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.'"