Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision upholding a new gun sale reporting rule. In July 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent demand letters to gun dealers in border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas), requiring that each dealer send a report to the ATF when it sells “two or more semi-automatic rifles capable of accepting a detachable magazine and with a caliber greater than .22 (including .223/5.56 caliber) to an unlicensed person.” Sales occurring on or after August 14, 2011, are subject to the new rule. The ATF has reported that thousands of U.S. firearms are illegally brought into Mexico each year, specifically citing that authorities in Mexico recovered over 68,000 U.S. guns between 2007 and 2011.
In response to the case brought by The National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc., J&G Sales, Ltd., and Foothills Firearms, LLC, the Court found that the Gun Control Act of 1968 “unambiguously authorizes” the ATF’s new policy. While the appellants argued that the ATF’s policy overstepped a congressional mandate against creating a national gun registry, the Court concluded that the ATF’s demand letter applied to a small percentage of gun dealers and an even smaller percentage of gun sales, stating: “In short, because ATF sent the demand letter to only seven percent of [dealers] nationwide and required information on only a small number of transactions, the July 2011 demand letter does not come close to creating a ‘national firearms registry.’” The full text of the opinion is available here.