The Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ (ATF) Associate Deputy Director and Chief Operating Director, Ronald Turk, wrote an 11-page proposal for reevaluation of restrictions currently placed on firearms in the United States. The proposal, entitled “Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations,” suggests “removing restrictions on the sale of gun silencers; allowing gun dealers to have more guns used in crimes traced to their stores before the federal government requires additional information from the dealer; and initiating a study on lifting the ban on imported assault weapons” (via Washington Post).
From the paper’s executive summary:
This paper serves to provide the new Administration and the Bureau multiple options to consider and discuss regarding firearms regulations specific to ATF. These general thoughts provide potential ways to reduce or modify regulations, or suggest changes that promote commerce and defend the Second Amendment without significant negative impact on ATF’s mission to fight violent firearms crime and regulate the firearms industry. This white paper is intended to provide ideas and provoke conversation; it is not guidance or policy of any kind.
Shooting Sports Study
According to Turke, firearms like AR-15s and AK-47s are legal and readily available in the United States. He also suggests reissuing a new sporting purpose study to include modern, up-to-date action shooting sports. The most recent study is almost 20-years-old. Since the initial study was done prior to the 2004 assault weapons ban, shooting sports have become more popular with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and the expansion of 3 Gun.
Turke also proposes creating an ATF-wide system database to maintain current letters and rulings. As it currently stands, the public has no direct access to these documents.
“The inability to access these rulings can create inconsistent agency interpretations of agency guidance,” Turke wrote. “ATF can create a retrievable database for internal use that includes access by the public for open rulings.”
Currently, gun silencers, also known as gun suppressors, are legal but require a stringent process to obtain. Gun owners are required to undergo a background check, pay a fine and wait 6 months to a year before a decision is made. The gun industry has long supported the full legalization of suppressors because of their benefit to law-abiding gun owners.
“Their [suppressors] use to reduce noise at shooting ranges and applications within the sporting and hunting industry are now well recognized,” Turke wrote. “At present, 42 states generally allows silencers to be used for sporting purposes.”
In fact, NRATV’s Colion Noir gave his personal account of why suppressors should be legal for every gun owner. Hint: it has to do with safety.
Interestingly enough, the “white paper” says exactly what gun owners across America have been saying all along: very rarely are suppressors used in criminal activity.
Of course, gun control advocates are up in arms over the proposal.
“This white paper offers a disturbing series of giveaways to the gun industry that would weaken regulatory oversight of the gun industry without adequate consideration of the impact on public safety,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “ATF has long described its regulatory function as a core part of its law enforcement mission to fight gun crime, yet this paper seems to prioritize reducing perceived burdens on the gun industry over an interest in protecting public safety from the illegal diversion of firearms” (via Washington Post).
And ATF’s official position is simple. They say this is one individual’s opinion, not the opinion of the department as a whole.