It goes without saying that government has become far too involved in our daily lives. We have become a nation where government rules and regulations seem to strike at our freedoms and liberties. We have regulations that have attempted to restrict what work young people can engage in on family farms. We also have regulations designed to hamper the ability of small businesses to grow and prosper. Most recently, the government is seeking to implement another set of regulations that strike at the very heart of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This past summer, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced that it would start collecting information to track sales of more than one rifle or shotgun to the same person in Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico. The ATF would subject gun dealers -- and by extension the law-abiding citizens who buy guns from them -- to these new reporting requirements disclosing the sale of multiple rifles and shotguns to the same person within five days of purchase.
The Obama administration claims the rule would allow for more accurate and faster tracing of guns involved in crimes that may be linked to drug trafficking, but as far as I am concerned, this additional reporting requirement will do more harm than good. With rigorous background checks already in place for firearms purchased in U.S. gun shops, it is far more likely that a criminal from a transnational drug cartel would illegally obtain rifles and shotguns over the border in Mexico, rather than attempt to purchase them from reputable gun dealers in the United States. This requirement won't stop drug cartels from obtaining weapons, but it will unfairly burden citizens in our border states, since their personal information will be turned over to the government in connection with this new mandate from the Justice Department. Like all Americans, citizens in border states have the constitutional right to purchase rifles and shotguns for a variety of purposes, including protecting themselves and their families.
Following the ATF's decision, a lawsuit challenging the rule argued that the ATF proposal was not authorized by Congress and that the measure would amount to a national firearms registry. Earlier this year a federal judge upheld the ATF rule but the plaintiffs in the case plan to appeal the case. With that in mind, I joined several of my colleagues recently in supporting H.R. 3814, a bill that simply says that the Justice Department can't require gun dealers to disclose information on sales of multiple rifles and shotguns to the same person.
Many believe the ATF's rule is an attempt by administration officials to appear as if they are trying to clean up the mess they created during "Operation Fast and Furious," since the Justice Department is currently facing lots of scrutiny for their handling of this misguided operation in which Department officials allowed weapons to be secretly handed over to Mexican drug cartels in a failed attempt to track larger criminal operations. Those weapons, not surprisingly, were used by the cartels for criminal purposes, including the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Instead of trying to cover its tracks and involvement in "Fast and Furious" by imposing new rules on law abiding citizens, the Justice Department should be focused on holding its own officials accountable for their misguided and ill conceived operation and making sure it never happens again. It is my hope that the lawsuit against the rule is successful, but, if not, I will work to pass our legislation to prevent any further erosion of the Second Amendment by the administration.