By: José Niño
In the last year alone, the Biden administration has gathered the records of more than 54 million gun owners.
According to Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, the Biden administration is “poised to drastically alter gun regulations to ensure that information on Americans who own firearms ultimately ends up in the federal government's hands” based on internal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) documents the Washington Free Beacon obtained.
Gun Owner of America (GOA), a no-compromise gun organization, was able to acquire an internal ATF document that revealed the ATF’s processing of 54.7 million out-of-business records in fiscal year 2021. Whenever a licensed gun store shuts down its operations, its private records containing gun transactions are turned over to the ATF and are stored at a federal site located in West Virginia.
In effect, the federal government can store large numbers of gun records, a practice that has received fierce criticism from pro-Second Amendment organizations. They argue that the federal government is using this information to set up a national database.
According to the internal document that highlighted the ATF’s actions in fiscal year 2021, the ATF acquired 53.8 million paper records and 887,000 electronic records. For Second Amendment activists, the number of records the ATF has access to is exceedingly high. This has generated fears that the Biden administration is attempting to track all American firearms owners, which is a violation of federal law.
The acquisition of these records by the ATF comes at a time when the Biden administration is working to change current laws to make sure gun records are stored in perpetuity. Presently, gun stores can destroy their records after 20 years, which deprives the ATF access to the information in the future.
"As if the addition of over 50 million records to an ATF gun registry wasn't unconstitutional or illegal enough, the Biden administration's misuse of ‘out-of-business' records doesn't end there," Aidan Johnston, Gun Owners of America's director of federal affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon. "Instead of maintaining the right of [licensed firearm dealers] to destroy Firearm Transaction Records after 20 years, buried within Biden's proposed regulations is a provision that would mean every single Firearm Transaction Record going forward would eventually be sent to ATF's registry in West Virginia."
The ATF’s registry site is one of the most polemical aspects of the gun control debate in America. Proponents of civilian disarmament want the ATF to digitize the registry and create a federal database of American gun owners. Many no-compromise organizations have warned that a registry is the first step towards establishing a gun confiscation regime.
Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, licensed firearms dealers that shut down their operations are compelled to provide the ATF with their records. From there, the records are processed into images. The ATF claims this database cannot be searched by a buyer’s name. The ATF also claims that physical records are subsequently destroyed.
The issue of the ATF’s access to records has surfaced again now that the Biden administration is beginning to enact new regulations on firearms and owners, which includes a prohibition on roughly 10 to 40 million pistol braces. If these guidelines are fully enacted, gun owners would be forced to register or destroy their pistol braces.
In addition, the ATF’s proposed regulations would mandate firearms parts be regulated through background checks. Kredo explained that, “[I]f an individual assembled a legal homemade gun, he may be forced to submit to up to 16 different background checks.”
GOA believes that the Biden administration is abusing the rule-making process to fast-track the implementation of these regulations before the end of 2021.
"The Biden administration has forced ATF to undertake the rule-making process in record time—resulting in faulty argumentation and demonstrating that neither ATF nor Biden's anti-gun appointees know anything about the firearms and accessories they seek to regulate," said Johnston.
It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous the existence of the ATF is to the Second Amendment. An unelected bureaucracy simply cannot be held accountable the way politicians with bad voting records can. For that reason, any politician who is serious about restoring the Second Amendment must at least consider defunding this institution.
Administrative overreach is the last resort of any gun control regime that cannot cobble together the votes to pass their gun grabs. When the gun control crowd can’t achieve their goals through conventional means, they will do so behind the closed doors of shadowy bureaucracies.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.