Elected Officials Sound the Alarms on the ATF’s New Gun Registry Scheme 

The no compromise organization Gun Owners of America (GOA) recently raised alarms about the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) establishing an illegal gun registry. In a report, GOA took the ATF to task for a new rule change that ia now requiring federal firearms licensees (FFLs) to keep firearms purchase records for an indefinite period of time. 

Through several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, GOA discovered the ATF “is maintaining a digital, searchable, centralized registry of guns and gun owners in violation of various federal prohibitions.”

“In November of 2021, an internal ATF memo leaked by Gun Owners of America revealed that ATF had processed and digitized over 50,000,000 ‘out of business’ records of gun dealers in FY 2021,” GOA’s report outlined. “This report was picked up by major pundits and news outlets, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and the Blaze.”

In GOA’s report, it noted that the “ATF has reached a point where it has converted nearly one billion records (required to be kept by FFLs) into a single, centralized, and searchable national gun registry, that is routinely searched by multiple data fields (except, reportedly, by gun owner name).”

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“While ATF and others maintain this does not constitute a gun registry, and that all relevant statutes and restrictions are being adhered to, the information referenced in this section, revealed in a FOIA response by ATF to Gun Owners of America, proves otherwise,” the report added. The report called attention to how the “ATF maintains only that registry records in their final file format are not searchable by name.”

“What ATF does not mention, however, is that throughout its processes to digitize and consolidate records, the records are received from dealers and maintained by ATF in fully searchable formats (including by name). Moreover, ATF’s centralized database, even in its final form, is fully searchable by text for any of a variety of other factors (just not by name, supposedly)”, the GOA report detailed. 

“What is more, it appears the only reason ATF’s registry is not searchable by name is because ATF has merely disabled the ability for its software to search that particular record field. Of course, something that is so easily disabled could be easily re-enabled,” the report added. “In other words, this terrifying and legally prohibited power resides at ATF’s fingertips, and American gun owners are merely relying on the agency’s promise that it is not and will not abuse that power.”

The GOA report described the rule as an “illegal gun registry.” On top of that, this rule change is in violation of federal gun laws. Most notably, the “the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, which bans ‘any rule or regulation’ from being newly enacted to require records be transferred to the government.”

GOA also raised concerns about how “every Firearms Transaction Record kept forever, these forms will eventually become out-of-business records and permanently end up in ATF’s illegal gun registry of every commercially transferred firearm in the United States.”

In response to the ATF’s rule change, Texas Senator Ted Cruz introduced a Senate version of Texas Congressman Michael Cloud’s bill —the No Retaining Every Gun In a System That Restricts Your (REGISTRY) Rights Act.

Under this bill, the ATF would be compelled to destroy all of the current firearms purchase records that they possess. Furthermore, FFLs who are shutting down their operations would be required to destroy their firearms purchase records. 

Seasoned gun control advocates know all too well that firearms registration is one of the first steps towards confiscation. Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie reminded his followers of that on May 24. He declared, “A searchable federal registry of gun owners is illegal in this country, so why is the ATF digitizing individual purchase records… to be kept indefinitely?

A national gun registry is a pre-requisite to gun confiscation. This must be stopped.”

These are the many perils of having the ATF continue to exist. Due to the bureaucratic nature of the ATF, it is not subject to the will of the voters nor are its actions connected to public votes by representatives. As a result, the ATF can implement policies via executive fiat and not be held accountable for its misbehavior. 

That’s why it’s so important for Second Amendment supporters to do everything possible to defund and eventually abolish the ATF.  Representatives like Massie will undoubtedly play an integral role throughout this process. 

America can no longer afford to have the ATF continue to exist.