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Federal judge upholds reporting requirement for gun stores

ATF Guns

Jan. 25, 2011: A cache of seized weapons used in the ATF gun-running operation 'Fast and Furious' is displayed at a news conference in Phoenix.AP

A federal judge has dismissed a firearms industry association's lawsuit seeking to block the Obama administration from requiring gun store owners in Southwest border states to report when customers buy multiple high-powered rifles. 

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives properly limited its requirement to purchasers of two or more semi-automatic rifles greater than .22 caliber within five days in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas. 

"Congress has effected a delicate balance between ATF's regulation of firearms and the right to privacy held by lawful firearms owners," Collyer wrote. The ATF's reporting requirement "did not disturb that balance."

Gun dealers opposed the requirements, arguing they would effectively require a national registration of gun sales, which they said the ATF did not have the authorization to do.

Additionally, the gun industry saw the rules as being a burden to law-abiding retailers and would not have any significant effect on clamping down on the flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels. 

The requirement was imposed after ATF acknowledged during congressional hearings it made mistakes in Operation Fast and Furious, a Phoenix-area investigation designed to catch weapons-trafficking kingpins. Agents lost track of many weapons they were trying to track to smuggling ringleaders, and some guns ended up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.