Dear Federal Firearms Licensee:
As you may know, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has announced that it will begin requiring the approximately 8,500 firearms retailers in the Southwest border states (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California) to keep records of and report to ATF sales made to the same individual -- within a five (5) business day period -- of more than one semi-automatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine greater than .22 caliber (Multiple Sales Reporting of Certain Semi-automatic Rifles). ATF has stated it is imposing this requirement pursuant to its "demand letter" authority under the Gun Control Act. This week, ATF began sending "demand letters" to border state firearms retailers implementing this new multiple sales record keeping and reporting requirement effective August 14, 2011.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for America's firearms industry -- will be filing a lawsuit challenging the legal authority of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and ATF under the Gun Control Act to impose this new multiple sales reporting requirement. When Congress authorized the reporting of multiple sales of handguns it could have required the same for the sale of long guns, but it did not. ATF is clearly exceeding its lawful authority under the Gun Control Act. Current ATF Acting Director Ken Melson himself has previously questioned ATF's legal authority to impose this new requirement.
NSSF is looking for individual firearms retailers who have received an ATF demand letter to join NSSF in its lawsuit against the DOJ and ATF.
NSSF continues to encourage all retailers, not just those along the Southwest border, to continue to cooperate with ATF and report any suspicious activity. However, our primary legal concern is that this is the proverbial "slippery slope. If ATF is allowed to require this record-keeping and reporting requirement of law-abiding retailers in these four states simply by sending a letter demanding the information, than there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee (manufacturer, distributor or retailer), anywhere in the country. ATF would simply need to send a "demand letter" to the licensee for the information it wishes. Congress has not given ATF this much discretion; otherwise the protections afforded licensees by Congress under the Gun Control Act, as amended, would be rendered meaningless.
NSSF will be funding all legal fees and expenses associated with its lawsuit. Retailers who choose to participate in the case will have no financial obligation. We believe that having a cross-section of retailers (e.g., dealers from different states, dealers located far from the border - like northern California, dealers that sell modern sporting rifles, dealers that do not sell modern sporting rifles, dealers that have multiple locations, and mom-n-pop dealers) will strengthen the case.
NSSF continues to urge all retailers to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. As a representative of Guns Galore, LLC of Killeen, Texas, whose actions helped prevent an attempted terrorist attack at Ft. Hood, noted an "obligation to ensure the safety of our community."
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If you are interested in being part of this precedent setting lawsuit, please contact me at 203-426-1320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawrence G. Keane
SVP, Assistant Secretary & General Counsel
National Shooting Sports Foundation