* Gun dealers in border states would report sales
* Delay comes amid gun lobby opposition
By Tim Gaynor
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A planned Obama administration
clampdown on Mexico border gun dealers that would require them
to report multiple assault rifle sales has been delayed by the
White House amid stiff opposition from the powerful gun lobby.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives said last month it would tighten reporting
requirements to help agents gather intelligence to target
smugglers running high-powered rifles to Mexico, where 30,000
people have been killed in drug cartel violence since 2006.
The ATF measure would require around 8,500 gun dealers in
Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report sales of
two or more semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines to
the same person within a five-day period.
The White House Office of Management and Budget was
expected to approve the emergency rule change on Wednesday. But
an official told Reuters that "ATF's information collection
request is still under review," and declined further comment
until the "deliberative phase is concluded."
The powerful National Rifle Association, which lobbies
tirelessly for gun rights, has slammed the Obama administration
for using Mexican cartel violence as a pretext to impose
registration on gun sales.
"This is just a shallow excuse to engage in a sweeping
firearms registration scheme," NRA executive vice president
Wayne LaPierre said last month on the group's website.
"The NRA will do everything in its power to stop these
'emergency requirements' from taking effect," he added.
A BUREAUCRATIC DELAY?
Gun control activists said they hoped the delay was just
"We have been very disappointed with the Obama
administration for most of its first two years in office with
regard to the gun issue," said Paul Helmke, president of the
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"We're hopeful that this is just some standard bureaucratic
delay. We haven't heard anything to the contrary," he added.
U.S. officials say an "iron river" of firearms flowing
south to the drug cartels includes high-powered Kalashnikov and
AR-15 rifles toted by cartel hitmen across Mexico, and
decorative .38 caliber pistols popular with drug kingpins.
About 90 percent of the crime guns seized and traced in
Mexico last year were initially sold in the United States,
according to ATF. Investigators say around three-quarters of
traces lead back to sales in the four border states.
Obama and the government of Mexican President Felipe
Calderon have ramped up cooperation in recent months to curb
drug smuggling heading north and to seize cash and guns flowing
south to Mexico.
"Dealers are already required to report multiple sales of
handguns and this is just implementing the same thing for long
guns," Helmke told Reuters.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor, editing by Greg McCune and
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