PHOENIX - Gun store owners in states along the Mexican border have sued the acting director of the federal agency that oversees firearms to halt a new requirement that they alert authorities if someone buys multiple high-powered rifles in a five-day span.
The requirement, which goes into effect Aug. 14, follows a controversial 2009 law enforcement operation in Arizona known as “Fast and Furious’’ that resulted in more than 2,000 high-powered weapons making their way to Mexico as authorities investigated people directing gun buys on behalf of cartels.
The operation has been the subject of recent congressional hearings in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives acknowledged making mistakes.
The ATF’s new reporting requirement for sales of high-powered rifles applies to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
It stipulates that gun shop owners must start providing the agency with detailed information, including birth dates, addresses, race, and gender, about people who buy two or more semi-automatic rifles greater than .22 caliber in a five-day period.
In the three lawsuits filed Wednesday and Thursday against the ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, store owners in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas argued the ATF does not have the right to make the requirement because it would hurt the businesses economically and invade the privacy of customers.