On one gun regulation, NRA only group to weigh in


In the world of firearm regulatory efforts, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has the loudest megaphone–and sometimes the only one.

The NRA was the sole organization to comment on a regulation issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in June that lifted a 90-day residency requirement for immigrants living in the U.S. who want to obtain firearms.

On August 30, the NRA/Institute for Legislative Action's office of legislative counsel wrote this letter–available on Sunlight's regulatory search tool in development, Docket Wrench–supporting the agency's decision to lift the requirement, which had been in place since 2002. The ATF had issued its new regulation in June, implementing a new legal opinion by the Justice Department that said the agency's previous regulation, which included the residency requirement, was not consistent with the underlying statute.

MORE: For data on the gun debate, see the Sunlight Foundation's resource page.

"NRA agrees with the determination of the Department of Justice and supports the interim final rule," reads the letter. "…There is no 'compelling state interest' in the requirement that a legal alien provide greater proof of residency than a citizen…"

The ATF received only four other comments on the rule change, all from private citizens, whose comments ranged from support to opposition to the change. The NRA was the sole organization to write a formal comment. 

The decision came in the midst of the "Fast and Furious" scandal, in which Republican critics accused the Justice Department of letting guns "walk" over the border into Mexico. Media coverage was scarce; however, a search shows that the rule change was discussed on numerous internet bulletin boards for gun enthusiasts.