GOP senator introduces bill to defend gun dealers from Biden’s ‘gun-grabbing agenda’: ‘Extremist policies’

by Tommy Grant

FIRST ON FOX: Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst has introduced legislation to protect gun owners from what critics have called a Biden administration crackdown on gun dealers as part of a larger anti-gun push by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The bill, introduced on Tuesday, will “provide firearm licensees an opportunity to correct statutory and regulatory violations, and for other purposes” and says the “Attorney General may not bring an enforcement action to revoke, or deny a renewal of, a license for a violation of any provision of this chapter or any implementing regulation thereof on the basis of a self-reported violation.”

Ernst’s bill comes as gun dealers across the country have cried foul over hundreds of licenses being taken away by Biden’s ATF and suggesting that they are being unfairly targeted for political reasons over paperwork errors as part of an agenda to combat gun violence which President Biden has vocally pushed.

“We were making $1 million a year, now it’s less than $100,000,” Anthony Navarro, a gun dealer who lost his license in 2022 after receiving three warnings for legal violations since 2009, told Wall Street Journal. “This policy is designed to be a backdoor violation of the Second Amendment.” 

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Ernst says the bill aims to ensure the government works with gun dealers to comply with the law rather than shut them down. 

“Biden’s ATF has had it out for gun owners since day one,” the Iowa Republican senator said in a statement. 

“For years, the Biden administration has cracked down on law-abiding gun dealers to advance its gun-grabbing agenda, even preventing small businesses from making a living. Rather than helping dealers comply with the law, Biden’s ATF has created more hurdles to legally sell guns, so it can turn around and revoke licenses for inconsequential, so-called ‘violations.’ While Joe Biden’s ATF has avoided critical oversight on its FFL abuse for over a year, I am proud to stand up for law-abiding Iowa gun dealers.” 

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Joni Ernst

The bill would create a safe harbor for gun dealers to self-report violations, require the ATF to work with gun dealers to fix violations, and allow for a direct judicial review of license revocations.

“Senator Joni Ernst’s ‘FIREARM’ Act will help restore confidence that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will fulfill its mission as a regulatory agency over the manufacture and sale of firearms rather than being used as a political tool by special interests,” Lawrence G. Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation Senior Vice President & General Counsel, said in a statement. 

“For too long, the firearm and ammunition industry has seen the ATF turned into a sledgehammer to carry out the extremist policies of antigun administrations. This damages the cooperative relationships between firearm retailers, who are often the frontline preventing illegal straw purchases of firearms, and the ATF, who enforces laws to safeguard our communities. NSSF is thankful for Senator Ernst’s leadership to provide remedies that repair this necessary public trust in our federal agencies.”

Similar legislation is also being worked through in the House by GOP Rep. Darrell Issa. 

“From the beginning, this Administration has sought to undermine the Second Amendment and weaponize federal agencies against law-abiding citizens and family-owned small businesses targeted for being a part of the lawful firearms industry,” Issa said in a statement. “This has delivered a transparently unfair assault on the fundamental rights of our fellow Americans, and that’s why my friend Senator Ernst and I are introducing the FIREARM Act. It’s time to stop this abuse of power and prevent it from ever happening again.”

Darrell Issa California

Last fiscal year, 122 gun dealers had their licenses revoked by the ATF which is up from 90 the year before and 27 in 2021, Wall Street Journal reported.

During the Trump and Obama presidencies, the number of licenses revoked never exceeded 81. 

“ATF’s core mission is to protect the public from violent crime, particularly crimes involving the use of firearms,” ATF Spokesperson Kristina Mastropasqua told Fox News Digital in a statement. “An essential part of this mission is ensuring that federal firearms licensees (FFLs) comply with applicable federal laws and regulations, particularly the implementing regulations of the Gun Control Act of 1968. FFLs are one of the first lines of defense against gun crime and are often a source of critical enforcement information that helps law enforcement identify straw purchasers and disrupt illegal firearms trafficking schemes. However, FFLs who willfully break the law put public safety at risk.”

ATF Agent

“Accordingly, in June 2021, Attorney General Garland announced a Gun Crime Prevention Strategy as part of the Department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, which included an enhanced regulatory enforcement policy aimed at preventing the diversion of firearms from lawful commerce by ensuring a consistent enforcement response to certain willful violations of the federal firearm regulations and laws. Specifically, absent extraordinary circumstances, the policy provides that ATF will issue a notice of license revocation when an inspection results in a preliminary finding that an FFL has willfully committed one or more of the following violations: (1) transferring a firearm to a prohibited person; (2) failing to conduct a required background check; (3) falsifying records, such as a firearms transaction form; (4) failing to respond to an ATF trace request; or (5) refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection.”

The statement continued, “This enhanced regulatory enforcement policy did not alter the statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to the FFL revocation process. While the policy identifies specific violations that may result in ATF issuing a revocation notice, it is limited to the initial step in the revocation process—the issuance of a notice. Whether issued pursuant to the enhanced regulatory enforcement policy or for other violations of the law, a revocation notice initiates additional procedural rights for FFLs, including the right to an administrative hearing, and if applicable, the right to judicial review. License revocations do not become final until the FFL receives notice and an opportunity to respond or waives those protections.”

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