Senator Files Bill To Protect Gun Retailers From Biden ATF

by Tommy Grant

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It’s no secret that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under President Joe Biden has targeted firearms retailers, constantly claiming that “rogue gun dealers” are fueling violent crime. In fact, the administration has painted gun dealers as enemies of America.

With Biden’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy for even minor paperwork errors, the ATF has forced hundreds of dealers out of business in the past few years, and prodded others to give up their licenses instead of facing a hearing.

A recent report from ATF showed that 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, before the “zero-tolerance” policy, only five licenses were revoked.

In response to this atrocity, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has introduced a measure to curb this misuse of power. Her bill is titled “Fighting Irrational Regulatory Enforcement to Avert Retailers’ Misfortune (FIREARM) Act.”

“Biden’s ATF has had it out for gun owners since day one,” Ernst said upon introduction of the measure. “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.’”

The measure creates a safe harbor for FFLs to self-report violations, so they can correct any accidental errors; requires the ATF to work collaboratively with FFLs to fix violations and help avoid future violations; addresses the “willfulness” issue by defining it to mean a voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty achieved through specific intent or deliberate planning, excludes previous conduct, and creates a rebuttal if the conduct is not willful; and allows for direct judicial review of license revocations to avoid the ATF from serving as both the judge and prosecutor.

Rep. Darryl Issa, R-California, has introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“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.”

Introduction of the measure was met with favor by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry.

“Senator Joni Ernst’s ‘FIREARM’ Act will help restore confidence that ATF 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,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “Under the Biden administration, the firearm and ammunition industry has seen the ATF turned into a sledgehammer to carry out this administration’s extreme antigun policies. This damages the cooperative relationships between firearm retailers, who are on 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.”

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