This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) amendment prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) and Explosives from using federal funds to collect information on individuals who bought multiple semi-automatic rifles or shotguns. The ATF was established to protect American communities from the illegal sale or trafficking of guns, tobacco, alcohol, and explosives. This agency had asked for such authority to track sales of multiple firearms in December 2010.
This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Boren urged support for his amendment: “Last December, ATF published an emergency request…It asked… for the power to collect information from firearms retailers on all sales of two or more semi-automatic rifles within five consecutive business days. This would include many of today's most popular rifles used by millions of Americans for self-defense, hunting, and other lawful purposes.…I strongly oppose granting ATF this information-collecting authority for three reasons: first, it would subject responsible firearms sellers who are often small business owners to burdensome reporting requirements. Second, ATF would catalog records on Americans who purchase rifles, thereby compromising their privacy. And, finally, ATF lacks legal authority to collect this information.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) opposed the amendment: “Thirty thousand. That's how many people were violently slaughtered by the Mexican drug cartels in just 4 short years. One of them was Bobby Salcedo, an American citizen and rising star from my district. He was kidnapped and murdered last year with a semiautomatic rifle. I oppose this amendment because it makes it harder to stop these types of violent acts. This amendment will prevent the tracing of bulk sales of the military-style rifles, popular with cartels, that have resulted in tragic murders like Bobby's. Last year, the U.S. military announced that, if the drug war continues, it could cause the Mexican Government to collapse, and the cartel war could spread over the border into the U.S. This amendment makes the drug war worse. Every day, people are dying from this war, even American citizens. We must stop it, and we can by opposing this amendment.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 277-149. Voting “yea” were 236 Republicans and 41 Democrats. 147 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from using funds provided by a continuing resolution to collect information on individuals who bought multiple semi-automatic rifles or shotguns.