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Assault Weapon Reporting Rule For Border States Delayed

Audio

Aired 2/7/11

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) officials had hoped the rule, they say would help them control the sale of guns that Mexican drug cartels favor, would have made it through the White House a month ago.

The measure would require gun sellers in the four southwest border states to report when a customer buys two or more semi-automatic weapons in five days or less.

These semi-automatic weapons are Mexican drug cartels’ weapons of choice.

Currently, people can buy as many as they want, without the authorities getting tipped off, unlike with handguns.

ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson said the semi-automatic measure would help authorities crack down. "If an individual were to buy several guns greater than 22 caliber, detachable magazine, semi-automatic today, and traffic them to Mexico, not until that gun was recovered at a crime scene and traced would we even have any indication that gun was diverted into illegal commerce. The difference with this is we are going to have an investigative lead at the point of sale," said Thomasson.

But many gun sellers say filing the piece of paper to generate that investigative lead is burdensome.

Some sellers are concerned the measure is overly broad and includes a popular hunting gun -- one drug cartels don’t use.

Richard Sprague, who owns Sprague’s Sports in Yuma, said nevertheless, "It’s a responsibility that we take on when we’re in the firearms business. If it is something that is potentially effective, then it is something, for us, that we can accomplish without any real difficulty.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association has pledged on its web site to do all it can to stop these kinds of measures.

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