Saturday, February 5, 2011

White House Delays ATF Emergency Rule

Two-month delay will give public a chance to comment on assault weapons sales reporting

White House staffers bowed to shrill protest from the gun lobby and the shooting public and ordered a two-month delay to an emergency rule proposed by ATF to report sales of two or more assault weapons in 5 days.

The delay will assure the public will have until Feb. 14 to comment on the proposal.

It's the second time the rule has gone down to defeat. Former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel ordered a hold on the emergency request last year when the NRA and gun dealers in the four border states – California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – protested the new requirement vigorously.

Acting Director Kenneth Melson, who proposed the rule on Dec. 20 of last year, had said the new requirement would provide an “invaluable intelligence tool” that would provide information on sales of assault weapons in those states.

That opinion was echoed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a recent visit to Foreign Affairs Minister Patricia Espinosa in Mexico City. In fact, she used the same term, referring to new “tools,” when it came to the question of alleged assault weapon traffic across the border in weapons obtained from Federal Firearms Licensees, particularly in Texas.

ATF agents operating in Mexico, military experts, and gun freedom activists have put the lie to the notion, saying that most of the weapons that are turning up in Mexico are select fire, capable of fully automatic operation and were manufactured under government contract for the U.S. military.

They allege they have been obtained either through military aid from the Department of Defense, then sold by deserting soldiers of the Mexican army; through sales from Vietnam, which confiscated all M-16's when the ARVN of South Vietnam surrendered; or from Central American republics where the government sent the weapons during the 80's to assist in the Contra wars against communist aggression.

It's all part of a new executive order signed into law by President Barack Obama, according to Meg Reilly, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget.

Designed to curb excessive regulation, it “is consistent with the president's call for more transparency and opportunities for public participatioin in his recent executive order.”

The new rule was stimulated by such actors as Christopher Steward of Phoenix, who allegedly purchased more than 100 AK-47's in one month.

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