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Weekly Column: Countering Biden Administration's Push To Erode Second Amendment Rights

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

President Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco recently announced the nomination of Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  They also used the opportunity to reiterate the Administration’s hard stance against so-called “ghost guns” and its efforts to extend firearms record-keeping requirements that risk establishing an unlawful gun registry.  The Administration is using all of its tools, including circumventing the legislative process, to go after law-abiding gun owners and firearms vendors.  I do not support more gun control.  Burdening law-abiding citizens of this country with additional gun restrictions is not the answer to safeguarding the public.  I continue to oppose all efforts to weaken Second Amendment rights.

ATF Nomination--Steve Dettelbach’s nomination to lead the ATF is rightly concerning, as it would put a person who has voiced support for eroding Second Amendment rights in charge of the federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing gun laws.  At President Biden’s direction, the ATF has begun broadening restrictions, including returning to the outrageous practice of repressing firearms licensees for de minimis grammatical errors in their record keeping.

“Ghost Guns”--The Biden Administration has taken a hard stance against so-called “ghost guns”, or guns built from unserialized gun assembly kits.  The ATF finalized rule 2021R-05, Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms, that would redefine firearm receivers in order to require them to have serial numbers.  Additionally, President Biden created a National Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative focused on prosecuting criminals who use ghost guns in crimes.  However, data concerning the use of ghost guns in crimes is limited, and reported numbers on confiscated guns are not limited to those used to commit crimes.  The Administration should focus its resources on pursuing dangerous criminals, not scapegoating hobbyists.

Firearms Record Keeping--I am also deeply concerned by the ATF’s admission it is cataloguing and digitizing business records from shuttered federal firearms licensees (FFLs).  Current federal law requires FFLs to keep their records of firearm transfers for 20 years, at which point they can be destroyed.  Should an FFL close its business, it must turn its records over to the ATF, which maintains them at the National Tracing Center.  The final rule 2021R-05 would extend record-keeping requirements by requiring FFLs to retain key records until they shut down their business or licensed activity.  The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act prohibits the federal government from creating a national gun registry.  The ATF must adhere to this law and cease any efforts to create a de facto gun registry. 

The ATF’s excessive rulemaking is deeply troubling, and I am countering its bureaucratic overreach:

  • I am an original co-sponsor of S. 1920, the ATF Accountability Act, that would ensure firearms manufacturers and lawful gun owners are not subject to unchecked bureaucratic ATF rulings; 
  •  I joined in pressing the ATF on its use of secret internal guidance to enforce regulations not openly published; and
  •  I joined in demanding the ATF provide answers on recent actions to prevent law-abiding citizens from creating and owning suppressors.

These are just some of the recent efforts underway to protect and preserve our constitutional right to bear arms.  Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) characterized the Administration’s push for more gun restrictions as “a distraction from the reality that the explosion of crime in blue cities is directly attributable to those same cities implementing de-policing, installing progressive prosecutors, and enacting disastrous bail reform policies.”  I agree and will continue to press for policies that truly get at the root cause of the violent crime problem without compromising law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights. 

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