April 29, 2011

Crapo Bill Improves Firearms Regulations

Bipartisan legislation clarifies BATFE operations

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) have introduced bipartisan legislation to modernize and improve operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).  The BATFE Reform and Modernization Act (S. 835) will roll back unnecessary restrictions, correct errors and codify longstanding congressional policies dealing with firearms, clarifying regulations for those who own and sell firearms.

The BATFE Reform and Modernization Act limits the BATFE's power to unilaterally revoke Federal Firearms Licenses and impose further checks on agency enforcement policies and personnel.  It also gives BATFE more options for dealers who are found to be out of compliance by authorizing them to impose capped and limited fines.  Currently, for most violations, BATFE can only give a federal firearms license (FFL) holder a warning, or revoke his license.

"The immense bureaucratic process in place often is confusing to firearms dealers attempting to comply with paperwork regulations and BATFE requirements," 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 work with BATFE to resolve those issues.  I have personally spoken to several Idahoans who have indicated the need for this legislation. This bill clarifies the standard for willful violations, allowing penalties for intentional, purposeful violations of the law, but not for simple paperwork mistakes."

This bill will allow fines or license suspensions for less serious violations, while still allowing license revocation for the kind of serious violations that would block an investigation or put guns in the hands of criminals.  This will help prevent the all-too-common situations where BATFE has revoked licenses for insignificant technical violations, such as improper use of abbreviations or filing records in the wrong order.