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US Firearms Officials Want To Track Semi Automatic Sales

Audio

Aired 12/21/10

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms wants to monitor the sale of semi-automatic weapons in states along the U.S.-Mexico border to help control drug cartel violence.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) wants to monitor the sale of semi-automatic weapons in states along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bureau wants to help control drug cartel violence.

Semi-automatics are Mexican drug cartels' weapons of choice. U.S. federal officials say cartels' use of them more than doubled between 2004 and 2008.

Drug gang operatives buy them legally in the U.S. and smuggle them to Mexico. There are currently no reporting requirements for semi-automatic weapons.

There are more than 8,000 licensed gun dealers in the four U.S. border states.

Scott Thomasson, with ATF, said his agency wants gun sellers to report the sale of two or more semi-automatic weapons in the space of five days or less.

"We'll be able to look at and determine whether or not that individual is trafficking in firearms or simply just bought them for his own purpose which there is nothing wrong with in any way, shape or form," said Thomasson.

He said that will help stem the flow of firearms to Mexico. "And will allow us to thwart the level of violence along the border," he added.

Without the requirement, agents may not otherwise know about bulk sales of semi-automatic weapons.

ATF's initiative still needs approval from the White House budget office.

Similar controls for handguns have been in effect for more than 40 years.