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NRA sues to block new Fed rule aimed at curbing gun running to Mexico

The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday in D.C. Federal Court seeking an injunction against a new rule requiring gun dealers in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas to inform the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) if a person buys more than one semiautomatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and uses ammunition greater than .22 caliber within five days.

The rule, which is set to take effect on Aug. 14, is designed to stem the flow weapons purchased by straw buyers that end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Mexico has very strict gun laws, requiring a heavy background check for purchases of small-caliber weapons. More than 60,000 guns have been recovered in Mexico from the U.S. between 2006 and 2010. Mexican President Felipe Calderón has repeatedly asked the U.S. to stop the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico.

The N.R.A. says that the administration has no authority to make such a rule on semi-automatic weapons, since Congress has not authorized it.

“N.R.A. has always viewed this as a blatant attempt by the Obama administration to pursue their gun control agenda through back-door rule-making, and the N.R.A. will fight them every step of the way,” said Wayne LaPierre, the group’s executive vice president. The organization is suing on behalf of two gun dealers in Prescott, Ariz., and Yuma, Ariz. The complaint says that the rule affects more than 8,400 gun dealers.

The ATF argues that it regulated handguns before Congress passed legislation requiring reporting of bulk purchases, and that courts have upheld similar rules.

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