Wednesday during consideration of the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, pro-gun U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of funds for a new and unauthorized multiple sales reporting plan proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Amendment was passed by a vote of 25-16.
The Rehberg Amendment, which was strongly supported by NRA, will defund the Justice Department’s controversial and illegal move requiring federally licensed firearms retailers in states bordering Mexico to report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles.
As we reported yesterday, this procedure was proposed last fall as an “emergency" measure by BATFE. Specifically, it calls for all of the firearm retailers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to report multiple sales, or other dispositions, of two or more .22 caliber or larger semi-automatic rifles capable of accepting a detachable magazine purchased by a single individual in a five consecutive business day period. It is important to note that under existing law, BATFE already has full access to every dealer’s firearm transaction records, either during a bona fide criminal investigation or simply to enforce compliance with record keeping requirements. This new reporting procedure would create a registry of owners of many of today's most popular rifles--firearms owned by millions of Americans for self-defense, hunting and other lawful purposes. Most importantly, however, the BATFE has no legal authority to demand these reports.
In addition, the agency has recently come under intense scrutiny due to its ill-conceived “Fast and Furious” operation. "Fast and Furious" encouraged Arizona gun stores to sell thousands of guns to suspicious buyers, despite objections from dealers and even BATFE’s own field agents.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on and passed, by a vote of 277 to 149, an amendment to H.R. 1 (also offered by Rep. Rehberg, along with Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.)) that also would have prohibited the use of federal funds for this reporting requirement. Unfortunately, the amendment was not included in the final version of the bill as a result of Senate inaction.
In March, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced S. 570--“to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns." The bill would ensure that federal funds cannot be used for the multiple sales reporting procedure.
NRA will continue to work to make sure the Rehberg Amendment makes it through the appropriations process. The amendment is scheduled to be heard on the House floor in August.