The ATF Asks Gun-Control Researchers How to Regulate You

posted on June 12, 2022

A recent report from the NRA Institute of Legislative Action (ILA) chronicles how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is working hand-in-hand with anti-gun researchers to form recommendations that could have dire consequences for America’s law-abiding gun owners.

On May 17, the ATF released the initial “National Firearms Commerce and Traffic Assessment” (NFCTA) as a response to one of six actions President Joe Biden (D) called for last year in his so-called “Initial Actions to Address the Gun Violence Public Health Epidemic.”

“The heart of this project is a unique partnership between ATF and members of academic institutions,” the document explains in the acknowledgements section.

Unfortunately, to produce the report, the ATF partnered with well-known anti-gun advocates, such as University of Pennsylvania professor and criminologist Anthony Braga, Sanford professor emeritus Philip J. Cook, Garen J. Wintemute of the University of California-Davis and Alaina De Biasi of the California Firearm Violence Research Center. That’s a “unique partnership,” indeed, since all are advocates for more-restrictive gun-control laws.

The main focus of the recommendations is expanding the power and scope of the ATF—a self-serving goal in a document produced by the agency. Recommendations include increasing agency funding to develop a data system to identify Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs, or gun dealers) who failed to file an Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) form, increasing funding to boost staffing to allow for enhanced outreach and education to licensed importers on the requirement to file ATF Form 6A within 15 days of clearing the US Customs and Border Protection agency and providing funding for the ATF to study Curio & Relic (C&R) firearms—in spite of the fact that the ATF doesn’t allege that the current C&R scheme has had a detrimental effect on public safety. The agency also wants to create a permanent Analytics Division at taxpayer expense, which would undoubtedly be used to produce material designed to advocate for more gun regulation and increasing the ATF’s power.  As the NRA-ILA noted, the NFCTA also “spends significant space defending ATF Final Rule 2021R-05F concerning the “Definition of ‘Frame or Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms,” which seeks to make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their longstanding right to make their own firearms for personal use. NRA-ILA filed extensive comments opposing ATF’s perversion of federal law, which readers can examine here. ATF is also hoping to more than double the number of Industry Operations Investigators (IOI)—those ATF agents tasked with performing compliance investigations of FFLs.

This is simply another part of the Biden administration’s attempt to weaponize the ATF against what the president calls “rogue gun dealers” he claims are the main cause of violent crime. His highly touted “zero-tolerance” policy has a clear aim to reduce the number of FFLs for reasons as small as simple clerical errors, which then would make it harder for law-abiding Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights.


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