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Where the corrosion of trust has real impacts

That being the corrosion of trust between the government and large chunks of the people.  In this case it's lawful gun owners, but  different segments of the population have the same issues with different aspects of governance, such as internet users, privacy advocates, fill in the blank group with fill in the blank concerns.

Stepping aside from some of the larger aspects of the question involved - I can see the utility of the ATFE request for sales data.  Yes, as the NRA points out, the ATFE agents can visit the gun shops in question and inspect their records to glean this information.  And, to those who think ATFE agents are a blight upon the world, setting them to visiting 8500 on a weekly basis will keep them out of mischief with the rest of us has some appeal.  Having the shops in question self-report leverages information-age technology to more efficiently collect and collate data, which might be useful in tracking the traffickers.  And just focusing on the dealers already identified by gun trace data from Mexico is simply going to be focusing on dealers the traffickers aren't buying from anymore... since the Feds decided to reveal them for propaganda purposes.  They'll only catch the stupid traffickers now.  

And, of course, once the cartels figure out who is being watched and what the triggers are... they'll modify their behavior to slip back under the radar.

And the ATFE will have a new trove a data to play with, which is where much of the rub lies for me.  Of course, this is all an exercise in selecting something simple to do and easily exploitable for PR purposes... and that will have little truly significant impact on the problem, as most of the weapons of concern don't originate in the US, and the root of the problem isn't the tools they're using - it's the people using the tools and the culture in which they are embedded.  And dealing with that (aside from being outside the ATFE wicket) is too hard a nut to crack, because powerful people (not just in the cartels) will get their oxen gored to fix Mexico's internal problems.  Including many oxen owned by the people whose putative responsibility it is to solve them.  

Here in the US, one of the simpler responses of the trafficking networks will be to displace to new locations, effectively incentivizing the cartels to expand their reach and presence in the US.  Of course the ATFE response will be... then we must have a reporting requirement for all guns, something they've wanted in the past, anyway.  And the guns will still flow.  Because the root causes aren't being dealt with.  Because that's too hard.  But news conferences holding up scary looking rifles is always a winner - even if the rate of killing is unchanged.

Feh.   Below is the NRA article on the subject.  Full disclosure:  Yes, I am a card-carrying member of the VGNC, Vast Gun Nut Conspiracy.  I do get the memos and talking points.  Even though I am a well known squish.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has proposed that it be given emergency authority for six months, beginning January 5, to require about 8,500 firearms dealers along the border with Mexico “to alert authorities when they sell within five consecutive business days two or more semiautomatic rifles greater than .22 caliber with detachable magazines.” A Washington Post story reporting on the BATFE proposal described that definition as being applicable to “so-called assault weapons,” but it would also apply to many rifles that have never been labeled with that term.

The reporting requirement will apparently be imposed under the “authority” the BATFE has used in the past to demand reporting of other types of transactions from certain limited groups of dealers over the past 10 years, but the new proposal is far broader than any previous use of this authority. Of course, there's no law today that prevents dealers from reporting suspicious transactions (or attempted transactions) to the BATFE, and dealers often do so. The BATFE is also free to inspect dealers' sales records—either for annual compliance inspections or during a criminal investigation.

NRA-ILA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, denounced the attempt to establish a registry of Americans who purchase semi-automatic rifles that gun control supporters ultimately want to see banned. "This administration does not have the guts to build a wall, but they do have the audacity to blame and register gun owners for Mexico's problems," Cox told the Post. "NRA supports legitimate efforts to stop criminal activity, but we will not stand idle while our Second Amendment is sacrificed for politics."

The Post says “The plan by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revives a proposal that has languished at the Justice Department and in the Obama administration for several months,” and that the gist of the plan was proposed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) last year. It its August 2009 Blueprint for Federal Action on Guns, MAIG indeed proposed that “ATF should identify the long guns most linked to crime and require dealers to report multiple sales of such guns.”

The idea must have appealed to the BATFE, because in June of this year Congress’ Government Accountability Office released a report noting that BATFE officials had claimed that U.S. efforts to stop the smuggling of firearms to Mexico are hindered by “a lack of required background checks for private firearms sales, and limitations on reporting requirements for multiple sales.”

Curiously, in September, a draft of the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s Office’s unfavorable review of BATFE’s Project Gunrunner, established to combat the trafficking of firearms to Mexico, didn’t mention multiple sales at all. But the final version of the review, released in November, mentions “multiple sales” 43 times and says “the lack of a reporting requirement for multiple sales of long guns – which have become the cartels’ weapons of choice – hinders ATF’s ability to disrupt the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.”

Whether BATFE intends its plan as another expansion of its oft-criticized firearm sales record tracing empire, or to lay the groundwork for legislation or regulations restricting “assault weapon” sales, or to fatten the files the agency keeps at its National Tracing Center in West Virginia remains to be seen. And the legality of requiring sales reports on any long guns is also in doubt. When the Congress specifically imposed multiple sales reporting on handguns only, it implicitly stated its intention that the same requirement not apply to sales of long guns.

However, it is crystal clear that some in the Obama Administration agree with those who believe the answer to crime is always more gun control. In September, MAIG blamed crime in states that have “strong” gun laws, on states that don’t have the same laws. And ever since President Obama took office, gun control supporters have been blaming Mexico’s crime problem on America’s gun laws.

The fact that Mexico’s multi-billion dollar drug cartels have machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades, and other potent weaponry you cannot buy in the United States is, to gun control supporters, irrelevant. The fact that most of the cartels’ guns have never been on this side of the U.S. border is, as far as they are concerned, a trifling inconvenience. The fact that the cartels will never have enough “assault weapons” or any other guns from the U.S. to hand out to all the Mexican policemen, soldiers and politicians on their payrolls, is, in their view, an unimportant detail. And the fact that the murder rate in the United States is at a 45-year low, while crime in Mexico is through the roof (the murder rate in Juarez is 115 times higher than in El Paso) is, they would certainly say, a contradiction best ignored.

To read the BATFE's Federal Register notice about the plan, and for information on how to send your comments, click here ( Comments about the proposal will be accepted for two months; if you choose to comment, please state your firm but polite opposition to the plan.

Needless to say, the NRA will not only comment, but take whatever other action is appropriate to block this sweeping expansion of federal recordkeeping on gun owners. Stay tuned.

Copyright 2010, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action.
This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.
11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 800-392-8683



If the BATFE used their authority just to help keep us safe, it wouldn't be so bad, but whenever they go into a FFL-gunshop, they ALWAYS go in with the mindset of looking for violations. If and when they find any, usually of the omission type, they use those violations, not as lessons for the FFL holder o how to do a better job of compliance with the regs, but as a weapon to try to shut down the business.

The BATFE evidently operates from a culture that it is their MISSION to close as many gun shops and terminate as many FFLs as possible, and THAT is why they clash with freedom-loving Americans.

They're not alone amongst Federal agencies in having this mindset. US-OSHA works from this culture, as does the IRS.

The next time the conservatives actually gain hegemony, they need to address this issue as their #1 project. They won't, though, they'll continue to try to force other cultural issues on the USA, but they'll never face up to just what is so bad about the Feddle Gummint.
What a silly idea!

Just put "Big Sis" and the Homeland Security folks in charge.  They are sharp, highly trained professionals, and I am certain they can stop the flow of illegal stuff going south just as well as they have stopped the flow of illegal stuff headed north.

If that does not work sufficiently well, then we can just grant amnesty to all the "traffickers" and declare them to be temporary undocumented Democrat voters, and pay their bus fare, and for the cost of the guns they want to buy.  Anything less would be "RACIST!!!!"

The BATF has a well documented pattern of harrassing citizens for minor paperwork problems and seldom bothering to go after actual violent criminals who buy, or attempt to buy guns.

Ask BATF how many "prohibited persons" who were denied purchase of a gun were prosecuted.  That is a federal felony, with an eyewitness (the dealer) and a form with the perp's signature and address.   Why so few prosecutions of those actual criminals?

Sir!: Are you trying to say something like, that some people are just bad people, and tend to do bad things?  I mean, I thought evverbody knew that, and has known that for years and years.

"Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms belong on stores shelves, and NOT as a Federal Agency".  there.... I said it, and I support that concept. I believe that there should be NO firearms laws, that laws should be based upon identifying and punishing irresponsible actions of/by individuals, and NOT as a prophylactic against potential future crimes.

 Having said that, there was a very interesting case adjudicated back in '05,  that would seem to bear re;evance to all Federal Agencies, especially the ATFE, though it was originally brought against the IRS. There is a good blog article about it here:


 This is an interesting thread, for me, it has some history. If you want to do a little reading, Google-“James E Dean”. There was a great deal of coverage from one of the millblogs "Neptunas Lex", go to his site, click on the “archives”. You want to go to January 2007, early in the month, of thread was started, titled, “I hate these kinds of stories”. Yes, I'm in there, take a moment and read the whole thread I do believe there is an actual copy of the final report of the event. This story says a great deal about why I feel the way I do about government guns and the blatant misuse of authority. If you're anything like me, you're going to come away just a little pithed.
For AW1 Tim:

Since that case was from 2005 and since BATFE and the rest are still doin' their thang, it pretty well spells out what the "Rule of Law" is worth in this country.  Got guns?  Got ammo?  Are YOU ready?
I watched film of the gallant BATF during their initial assault on the compound outside of Waco.  Real professional, "spary and pray" shooting techniques.  They had to kill women and children in order to save them.  All this to justify their annual budget request.

Same mindset at Ruby Ridge, a woman holding an infant is a dangerous threat as is the family dog.  They like to go after soft targets rather than heavily armed gang bangers.

"Jack-booted thugs", indeed.
IIRC, a Texas Ranger testified at the hearings about the Waco thing, and seemed to have a very low opininon of the Feds' behavior, in re destroying evidence. I don't trust ANY cops, but Texas Rangers, well, them I'll pretty much almost trust.
How about they just start searching the cars and trucks crossing into Mexico? I understand that only a small percentage get searched. If they are afraid of corruption, have the US customs guys do it at the border.