1NRA Power Hangs Over Efforts to Stem Flow of Weapons to Mexico -LRB- Washn -RRB- .
2WASHINGTON - Behind the scenes , federal agents in charge of stopping gun trafficking to Mexico have quietly advanced a plan to help stem the smuggling of high-powered AK-47s and AR-15s to the bloody drug war south of the border .
3The controversial proposal by officials at the Bureau of Alcohol , Tobacco , Firearms and Explosives calls for a measure strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association : requiring gun dealers to report multiple sales of rifles and shotguns to ATF .
4The gun issue is so incendiary and fear of the NRA so great that the ATF plan languished for months at the Justice Department , according to some senior law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity but would not provide details .
5The NRA got wind of the idea last month and warned its 4 million members in a `` grassroots alert '' that the administration might try to go around Congress to get such a plan enacted as an executive order or rule .
6An ATF spokesman declined to comment about the matter .
7Attorney General Eric Holder declined to be interviewed .
8Matt Miller , a spokesman for the Justice Department , said `` the administration continues to support common-sense measures to stem gun violence . ''
9In the past few days , the plan has quietly gained traction at Justice .
10But sources told The Washington Post they fear that if the plan becomes public , the NRA will marshal its forces to kill it .
11Such is the power of the NRA .
12With annual revenue of about $ 250 million , the group has for four decades been the strongest force shaping the nation 's gun laws .
13The fate of the Mexican gunrunning rule is only the most recent example of how the gun lobby has consistently outmaneuvered and hemmed in ATF , using political muscle to intimidate lawmakers and erect barriers to tougher gun laws .
14Over nearly four decades , the NRA has wielded remarkable influence over Congress , persuading lawmakers to curb ATF 's budget and mission and to call agency officials to account at oversight hearings .
15The source of the NRA 's power is its focus on one issue and its ability to get pro-gun candidates elected .