Washington, DC – Those who own and sell firearms will see increased flexibility from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) under bipartisan legislation introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). Leahy is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Crapo is Co-chair of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus. S. 941, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Reform and Firearms Modernization Act, represents the first time an BATFE reform bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
The BATFE Reform and Modernization Act promotes accountability and flexibility for the BATFE in responding to complaints about firearms violations. The legislation creates a mandatory warning period before the license of a firearms dealer can be revoked. It imposes further checks on agency enforcement policies and personnel and offers a graduated system for penalties, including capped and limited fines.
“We have a tremendously bureaucratic process in place, one that often has firearms dealers unclear as to paperwork regulations and the expectations from the BATFE,” Crapo said. “This legislation is needed so that dealers, both large and small, are provided a fair opportunity to discuss alleged violations, respond to them, and negotiate agreements to resolve issues raised by the BATFE. I have personally spoken to several Idahoans who have indicated the need for this legislation. There are differences between small paperwork problems and larger, willful violations of the law, and this bill addresses how to handle those differences.”
Language in the bill provides clarity about BATFE’s civil penalties against federal firearms licensees who violate any statute or regulation in BATFE’s jurisdiction. Concerns over privacy are also dealt with by a ban on centralized electronic record-keeping efforts by the BATFE. The bill also allows for amateur gunsmiths to offer repairs and improvements without the need for a manufacturer’s license.
Although this is the first time such legislation has been introduced in the Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed similar legislation during the 109th Congress. A majority of House members co-sponsored that legislation.