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Weekly Column: From The Mailbag--ATF Recordkeeping And Funding

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces.  I post information about various issues of importance on my website,  Concerns with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are among the issues Idahoans have contacted me about recently.  The following is my response:

I am deeply concerned by the ATF’s admission that it is cataloguing business records from shuttered federal firearms licensees (FFL).  Current federal law requires that FFLs must 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. 

Following a letter from Representative Michael Cloud (R-Texas), the ATF acknowledged that it has over 920 million records as of November 2021.  In the same letter to Representative Cloud, the agency admitted that over 860 million of these records have been digitalized.  While the agency claims that these digital records withhold key information, such as the identity of the gun purchaser, it would not be difficult to track down that information. 

The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act prohibits the federal government from creating a national gun registry.  I agree the ATF must adhere to this law and cease any efforts to create a de facto gun registry. 

Additionally, I share concerns about a proposal to double the ATF’s budget.  The agency needs more accountability, not more funding.  I am an original co-sponsor of S. 1920, the ATF Accountability Act.  This legislation would create a transparent review and appeals process for rulings and determinations made by the ATF.  Providing these processes would ensure that firearms manufacturers and lawful gun owners are not subject to unchecked bureaucratic rulings made by the ATF.  This measure has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it awaits consideration.

I do not support more gun control.  We as Americans must protect and preserve our constitutional right to bear arms.  Burdening law-abiding citizens of this country with additional gun restrictions is not the answer to safeguarding the public.  As gun control advocates continue to seek creative methods of advancing their agenda, both through legislation and litigation, I will continue to oppose all efforts to weaken Second Amendment rights.

My Senate website,, contains information about the issues before the U.S. Senate as well as news releases, photos and other items of interest.  The website also provides information about how to contact me to share your views via email, phone and mailing addresses.  News about recent activities and information about accessing my Facebook and YouTube pages and following me on Twitter can also be found on the website.  Links to legislation and other resources to assist Idahoans who need help with federal agencies can also be accessed on the website.  The messages you send me help to shape my approach on a number of important matters. 

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