NSSF calls new ATF record-keeping rule a waste of time and money

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

The Biden administration’s new rule on unfinished frames and receivers (and its proposed ban on unserialized DIY gun kits) has gotten a decent amount of attention since its release, but one aspect of the new rule that’s largely gone unacknowledged is now under the microscope of the firearms industry. Writing at Townhall, National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence Keane says a new requirement in the final rule will place an undue burden on firearm retailers by requiring them to maintain all of their firearm transaction records in perpetuity, as opposed to the current requirement that they keep the records for twenty years.

Keane calls the new rule a waste of time and money that won’t do anything to help solve crimes.

NSSF maintains that firearm transfer records older than 20 years hold little actionable law enforcement information. Most firearms traced by law enforcement were lawfully sold after a background check nearly a decade before being traced by law enforcement. The ATF’s most recent data shows the average time-crime is seven years, in other years it has been about a decade. Records of law-abiding gun owners from 20 years ago aren’t a factor in these investigations. The resources spent to maintain these records would be better used in other enforcement activities. Congressional oversight is long overdue as to whether this is a good use of taxpayer money or whether those tax dollars would be better spent putting more agents in the field to stop crime before it happens.

The Biden administration sees things differently, however. This Final Rule would put the onus on firearm retailers to maintain decades-worth of records forever and be readily available for inspectors to access.

Keane calls the provision of the rule part of Biden’s attempt to “transform the ATF from a firearm industry regulatory bureau into one that punishes and shuts down businesses”, or as I’ve put it, to make the ATF a gun control group with law enforcement powers.

Beyond the burden on firearm retailers, however, there’s another issue at play here. By requiring gun shops to maintain their records forevermore, the ATF and the Biden administration are once again putting the pieces in place for a national gun registry of sorts. No, these firearm transaction records don’t cover private, person-to-person sales, but the gun control lobby and Democrats in Congress have long sought to impose a universal background check law that would make most of those person-to-person sales illegal. The end goal is for all firearm transactions to be recorded, with the federal government having unlimited access to a database of gun owners across the country.

Criminals won’t comply with this law, of course, but that doesn’t seem to bother the gun control lobby much if at all. The focus of universal background checks (and the ATF’s new rule) is on legal gun owners, and that’s by design, not by accident. The anti-gun activists and politicians are still bitterly clinging to the idea that they can one day keep track of every lawfully-owned firearm and every gun owner, and Biden’s new rule is just one more step in their decades-long attempt to disarm the American public.