By Brandon Moseley
Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL03) joined Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and 50 colleagues in a letter to acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Marvin Richardson on Monday, expressing concern over proposed rule 2021R-05 by the agency, which they believe could lead to a gun registry that would violate an important congressional prohibition.
“My colleagues and I expressed our concern that the Biden administration is leveraging its power in a way to establish a federal gun registry,” Rogers posted on social media. “As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I will fight against this unconstitutional proposal.”
The group of House Republicans said they believe the ATF could be laying the groundwork for a federal gun registry by trying to remove the 20-year destruction date by which federal firearms licensees (FFL) must abide. The new rule would require FFLs to preserve firearm purchase records older than two decades.
Current federal law requires those who purchase a firearm at a Federal Firearms Licensee (gun dealer or FFL) to fill out form 4473. This record of the firearm transfer is then stored by the dealer on their premises. This creates a system whereby ATF can trace the firearm to the last purchase if a gun is found at a crime scene. However, since the records are stored with each FFL, the system is decentralized to protect against government abuse of gun owner data.
Gun dealers are required to maintain 4473 forms for 20 years, at which point they are to be destroyed. When dealers go out of business, they must send their last 20 years of records to ATF’s National Tracing Center to facilitate firearms tracing. Over a million out-of-business dealer records are sent to ATF each month. Records obtained by gun rights advocates show that in 2021, ATF processed a staggering 54.7 million of these records.
“A federal gun registry has no place in America because it would empower the government against citizens for exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Cloud posted on social media. “The ATF collected 54.7 million records in 2021 alone, giving many gun owners cause for concern over how it plans on using this information.”
The National Rifle Association opposes the rule.
The NRA-ILA says that this would be more burdensome for FFLs and diminish gun owner privacy. Under the proposed rule, FFLs would be required to maintain 4473s indefinitely and relinquish all such data to ATF upon going out of business.
Supporters of allowing the records to be input as searchable data say it would speed up the process of ATF tracing firearms back to their last legal purchaser.
However, the NRA warned that the “Type of electronic searchable database the ATF is seeking to develop would amount to a partial firearm registry. And as all gun rights supporters and gun control advocates know, firearm registries facilitate firearm confiscation.”
(Original reporting by Fox News and the Washington Times contributed to this report.)