WASHINGTON – As backlash mounts over the government’s failed “Fast and Furious” gun-tracing operation, the Department of Justice will begin requiring firearms dealers in California and other border states to alert officials any time they sell more than two semi-automatic rifles to someone in five days.
The new reporting requirement will help the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to “detect and disrupt” border gun-smuggling operations, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Monday.
Once the ATF distributes its new reporting forms, some 7,000 dealers near the border must report multiple sales of semi-automatic weapons in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
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 this country. 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.
In Fast and Furious, U.S. authorities lost track of most of the weapons, and many were later found at crime scenes in Mexico. In January, two turned up at the slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.