This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
The Obama administration's plan to force new reporting requirements on thousands of gun dealers near the Mexico border is under fire from members of his own party.
At least three Democrats in the Senate and several more in the House are voicing opposition to a proposed regulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that would require about 8,500 gun dealers in four states – California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas – to report gun sales of two or more high-powered rifles sold within five consecutive business days.
The proposal isn't connected in any way to the mass shooting in Arizona last weekend that left six people dead and 14 others wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., because the suspect used a handgun, which is already covered under these reporting requirements.
The new regulation would cover semiautomatic rifles greater than .22 caliber with detachable magazines.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has asked the ATF to withdraw its request to the White House for emergency authority to enact the regulation.
"While I understand the importance of cracking down on violence and gun trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border, this wide-reaching regulation would punish law-abiding American gun owners and impede their Second Amendment rights," Begich wrote in a letter last week to ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson. "Instead, we must secure our border and target Mexican drug cartels, as well as participating offenders in the United States."
The proposal also faces opposition from Montana's two Democratic senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as 36 House members in both parties who say the regulation would subject gun dealers to burdensome requirements.
They want the administration to enforce the agency's existing power to ensure gun dealers are in compliance with the law.
In a letter to President Obama last month, House members, including Reps. Dan Boren, D-Okla, Nick Rahall, D-W. Va., Mike Ross, D-Ark., Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, said the regulation should be reviewed by Congress first.
"While Congress has authorized multiple sales reporting for handguns, we have never extended this authority to other types of firearms," they wrote. "Expanding this power by executive decree would be an end run around Congress."
The ATF has rejected the notion that its regulation will violate Second Amendment rights or impose burdensome paperwork on gun dealers.
"These reports will give ATF real-time leads for the investigation of gun trafficking," Melson said in a webcast last month announcing the proposal.
"ATF's experience in these source states proves that multiple purchases of the described rifles are strong indicators of firearms trafficking to Mexico," he said. "By obtaining information about these multiple sales, ATF increase the likelihood of uncovering and disrupting trafficking schemes before the firearms make their way into Mexico."
Melson called the gun dealers who would be affected by the regulation "good citizens who share ATF's interest and commitment in keeping guns out of criminal hands."
"Working together, we can do that without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens," he said.
The NRA, which says it is keeping a close eye on the ATF, has vowed to make every effort possible to block the proposal.
"ATF doesn't have the authority to unilaterally impose this new requirement," the group said on its website. "If the Obama administration is going to run roughshod over the statutory limitations of the ATF in this regard, what other restrictions on their authority will they attempt to undermine or ignore?"
US Constitution; Article I, Section 7
All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
We the People:
Such rulings by the executive branch are contrary to the separation of powers. Does The Administration respect the Constitution?