ATF Gloats Over Increased FFL Revocations

by
posted on February 23, 2024
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Office of Public Affairs courtesy Flickr

As President Joe Biden (D) has repeatedly used the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to go after lawful gun dealers with his “zero-tolerance” policy, even for minor paperwork errors, dealer license revocations have increased dramatically. Now, the ATF seems more than happy to publicize that fact.

Biden has long considered gun makers and gun dealers to be the “enemy.” He has constantly referred to “rogue gun dealers” putting guns “into the hands of criminals.” The ATF recently released updated data that proves Biden wasn’t bluffing when he said he would wield his authority like a hammer against the industry.

According to the report, in 2023, the ATF revoked 157 federal firearms licenses following an inspection, nearly twice as many as the 88 licenses revoked in 2022. In the last six months of 2021, only five licenses were revoked.

Reports cited by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) also indicate that 165 gun dealers with Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs) were able to maintain their licenses following a revocation hearing in 2023. That was up from 83 in 2022 and just one in the last six months of 2021. 

This dramatic increase in the number of FFLs maintaining their licenses after being subject to a revocation hearing may be an indication of the spurious nature of this “zero-tolerance” policy.  As the nit-picking over minor, unintentional errors by FFLs increases, it would stand to reason that there would be an increase in the number of FFLs that prevail at their revocation hearings.

Biden’s perpetuation of his war on gun retailers, who lawful gun owners depend on to practice their Second Amendment-protected rights, has resulted in destroyed businesses, lost jobs, and lives ruined.

“All this adds up to the ATF carrying out a politically driven agenda to drive firearm retailers out of business rather than the ATF inspection process being used as it was designed—to assist firearm retailers to operate their lawful business in compliance with the laws and regulations governing the sale of firearms,” Larry Keane, NSSF general counsel, said in a recent news alert.

Apparently, however, Biden and the ATF don’t have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying. As if running dealers with minor violations out of business wasn’t enough, the ATF report even listed the names of all the dealers whose licenses were revoked, and included the report and revocation documents for each revoked license.

And, just as shameful as the greatly increased revocations, is the ATF’s propensity for getting licensees to voluntarily cease operations. In many situations, the ATF put those dealers on the hotseat, offering to let them close their businesses and give up their licenses in exchange for not having to go through a revocation hearing.

“Eighty FFLs voluntarily surrendered their licenses in 2023, rather than endure the costly and painstaking process of clearing a business’s name due to what are many times minor clerical errors,” said Keane. “That was up from 69 in 2022 and 24 in the last six months of 2021.”

Under Biden’s reckless leadership, the ATF has turned many gun dealers—most of which were happy to work with the agency to fight crime in the past—into adversaries of the agency instead of allies.

“The Biden administration has weaponized the ATF as a tool to dismantle the firearm industry instead of preserving the relationship of the agency that regulates the firearm industry to operate lawfully,” said Keane. “Zero tolerance has unfortunately damaged the cooperation between firearm retailers and ATF special agents.”

There is, however, some good news for both gun dealers and gun purchasers, as some in Congress are fed up with Biden’s zero-tolerance nonsense. House Resolution 7042, the Reining in Federal Licensing Enforcement (RIFLE) Act, has been introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann (R-Kan.). According to Keane, the bill would clearly define a willful violation, ensure the ATF works with firearm retailers to comply with regulations before revoking a license, allow for review and appeal with an administrative judge, and allow those whose licenses were revoked to reapply for new licenses under the new “willful” definition.

That measure is currently in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting consideration. A similar measure is expected to be introduced soon in the U.S. Senate.

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