A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a practice by the ATF requiring gun dealers in 4 U.S. border-states to disclose details of certain gun sales in an effort to curb U.S. to Mexico gun trafficking.
Beginning in 2011 the ATF began issuing so-called “demand letters” to thousands of gun dealers in four southwest border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. These letters required dealers who made multiple sales of semiautomatic weapons to the same buyer within a 5 day period to file a report with the ATF detailing the transactions.
In making their determination the court cited the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 which gives the ATF broad authority to combat gun crimes, including trafficking. The Gun Control Act “unambiguously authorizes the demand letter,” wrote Judge Karen Henderson. The court also noted that since 1975 gun dealers have already had to submit similar reports with regards to the sale of handguns.
Opponents say the ruling opens the door to far greater governmental intrusions. Supporters cite the limited scope of the ruling and note that it does not ban the sale of assault weapons but merely requires the sales to be reported.