Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Public Affairs Division - Washington, DC
The Violent Crime Bureau
For Immediate Release
May 4, 2012
Contact: ATF Public Affairs Division
ATF Announces Multiple Sales Reporting Analysis
WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced the preliminary results of its Multiple Sales Reporting (MSR) program for certain types of rifles after the first eight months of operation.
From approximately mid-August 2011 through mid-April 2012, there were more than 3,000 reports submitted from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. These reports accounted for the purchase of more than 7,300 rifles. Texas led the four states with more than 1,900 multiple sales reports accounting for more than 4,600 rifles purchased.
The timely reporting and analysis of MSR information by ATF has led to follow-up investigations involving transactions that might indicate firearms trafficking activities. The MSR requirement has proven to be a valuable investigative tool, resulting in the initiation of numerous intelligence-based cases.
During the same eight-month period, ATF opened more than 120 criminal investigations based on multiple sales reports. More than 25 cases have been recommended for prosecution representing more than 100 defendants with various firearms-related charges.
MSR was tailored to address the growing firearms trafficking problem with certain semi-automatic, high-caliber rifles from the United States being acquired by the Mexican drug cartels to commit violent crimes. According to ATF trace data, investigative experience, and Mexican law enforcement officials, these types of firearms are being used as crime guns and purchased in bulk by
straw purchasers. Straw purchaser is a term placed on an individual who purchases firearms illegally for others who cannot legally obtain firearms in exchange for money, drugs and other items.
Early indications show large-volume sales of rifles (10, 20, 30, or more in a single purchase) are not occurring as often, according to multiple sales reports and through interviews with ATF special agents and investigators in those states. Individual purchases are much smaller and usually in the lower single digits. While no baseline numbers of multiple purchases are available, since this is the first required reporting of its kind, it appears firearms traffickers are aware of the new reporting requirement and are altering their criminal activity.
In August 2011 ATF started the MSR program requiring Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to submit reports of multiple sales of certain rifles or other dispositions to unlicensed individuals who within five consecutive business days acquired two or more rifles that were semiautomatic, had a caliber greater than .22, and those with the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
A similar rule requiring dealers to report multiple hand gun sales has been in effect since 1975. The federal statute that codified multiple sales of handguns reporting requirement went into effect in 1986.
In fiscal year 2010, there were 36,148 reports of multiple sales of hand guns, submitted by 2,509 FFLs in the four southwest border states of Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico.
For more information on other ATF programs, please see our website, www.atf.gov.