Obama Administration’s New Proposed Gun Regulation for Border States Met With Bipartisan Dissent

Stephen Clark

The Obama administration’s plan to force new reporting requirements on thousands of gun dealers near the Mexico border is under fire from members of his own party.

At least three Democrats in the Senate and several more in the House are voicing opposition to a proposed regulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that would require about 8,500 gun dealers in four states – California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas – to report gun sales of two or more high-powered rifles sold within five consecutive business days.

The proposal isn’t connected in any way to the mass shooting in Arizona last weekend that left six people dead and 14 others wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., because the suspect used a handgun, which is already covered under these reporting requirements.

The new regulation would cover semiautomatic rifles greater than .22 caliber with detachable magazines.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has asked the ATF to withdraw its request to the White House for emergency authority to enact the regulation.

“While I understand the importance of cracking down on violence and gun trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border, this wide-reaching regulation would punish law-abiding American gun owners and impede their Second Amendment rights,” Begich wrote in a letter last week to ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson. “Instead, we must secure our border and target Mexican drug cartels, as well as participating offenders in the United States.”

The proposal also faces opposition from Montana’s two Democratic senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as 36 House members in both parties who say the regulation would subject gun dealers to burdensome requirements.

They want the administration to enforce the agency’s existing power to ensure gun dealers are in compliance with the law.

In a letter to President Obama last month, House members, including Reps. Dan Boren, D-Okla, Nick Rahall, D-W. Va., Mike Ross, D-Ark., Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and Ron Paul, R-Texas,said the regulation should be reviewed by Congress first.

“While Congress has authorized multiple sales reporting for handguns, we have never extended this authority to other types of firearms,” they wrote. “Expanding this power by executive decree would be an end run around Congress.”

Other Republicans who have expressed opposition are Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyle.

The White House did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The controversy over the proposal comes as the Tucson shooting renews debate on gun control laws and Obama struggles to get Senate confirmation for his choice to run the ATF, Andrew Traver. The agency has not had a director for more than four years.

Obama resubmitted the nomination last week after it died in the last session of Congress. But Traver still faces fierce opposition from groups such as the National Rifle Association.

“Traver has been deeply aligned with gun control advocates and anti-gun activities,” the NRA said in a statement last week. “This makes him the wrong choice to lead an enforcement agency that has almost exclusive oversight and control over the firearms industry, its retailers and consumers.”

The ATF announced the new proposed regulation last month. The agency was expecting approval from the Office of Management and Budget last week but the White House is still reviewing the request.

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