Reporting from Washington — As a backlash mounts over the government's failed Fast and Furious gun-tracing operation, the Justice Department will begin requiring firearms dealers in California and other border states to alert officials anytime they sell more than two semiautomatic rifles to someone in a five-day period.
The new reporting requirement will help the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "detect and disrupt" border gun-smuggling operations, Deputy Atty. Gen. James Cole said Monday.
Once the ATF distributes its new reporting forms, about 7,000 dealers near the border must report multiple sales of semiautomatic weapons in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Such weapons "are highly sought after by dangerous drug-trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest border," Cole said.
Republican critics quickly denounced the measure, saying it was wrong for the Obama administration to let illegal guns get into the hands of Mexican cartels in Operation Fast and Furious, and then require more monitoring of legitimate gun owners in the U.S. Under the program, the ATF permitted illegal straw purchasers to obtain weapons as part of a plan to trace the guns as they flowed to Mexico.