Bill To Keep The ATF (Somewhat) In Check Introduced

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has run very pro Second Amendment campaigns. Looking at his record, he has cosponsored several freedom enhancing bills that remove unconstitutional provisions which infringe on the Second Amendment. However, it was not until March of this year that he actually introduced his own bill involving the Second Amendment. While the proposal is not a gigantic step for all freedom loving Americans, it’s still a very good bill that will affect the firearms industry. H.R.1961 – ATF Accountability Act of 2021 is designed to add a process for members of the firearm industry to have good and proper appeals. Reading the title might get some people giddy, which is understandable. The bill is not going to issue the kind of accountability of the ATF which many would like to see, but is a step in the right direction. From a press release:

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) today introduced the ATF Accountability Act, which will create an appeals process for the firearms industry, so they are not subject to unchecked bureaucratic rulings that impact American jobs and attempt to restrict access to firearms.

That pretty much sums up what the ATF is, an unchecked bureaucracy. The provisions of the bill are designed to keep businesses from having to sue the government over rulings against them. In short, it’ll add a much needed due process system to those seeking acceptance and or guidance from the ATF. The release goes on to further explain:

“Late last year we saw the ATF attempt to make a rule that would have cost the industry more than $1.25 billion. The fact an unelected bureaucrat could make a rule hurting the American economy and American jobs to that extent with no appeals process cannot continue.” said Crenshaw. “This bill will bring ATF in line with most other federal regulatory agencies and create an appeals process so industry has more options to challenge rulings other than suing the federal government – which many businesses simply cannot do. This bill will help ensure that the ATF cannot unilaterally impose rulings that impede on Second Amendment liberties and hurt jobs within the firearms industry. ”

One would think this is real “commonsense” legislation. Not the fabricated “commonsense” legislation that the anti freedom caucus pushes upon those leaning on emotional arguments. The bill could be considered bipartisan, as there is so far one Democratic representative supporting the legislation, Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX). That one Democrat represents 25% of the list of cosponsors. One would think that a bill that would enable an appeals process, regardless of industry, would garner much larger support than five legislators.

It might be important to note that Crenshaw was under fire for comments he made concerning “red flag” laws in 2019. After a series of high profile terroristic shootings, Crenshaw came out in support of conversations about such provisions. Doubly important is to reiterate he was talking about conversations. As we have seen through 2021, the topic of red flag laws, or extreme risk protective order laws, has become front and center. Crenshaw does not claim to be an advocate for or against these measures, but thinks it’s important to be part of the conversation. He did go on the record about the entire debacle in a number of videos, one of which can be watched on his social media accounts.

No pun intended, but maybe Crenshaw is gun shy about what types of bills he introduces. Seeing the large push back from his constituents on just mentioning the thought of discussing red flag laws, we’d assume he’d come out guns a’ blazing, introducing bills with much stronger Second Amendment protections that would affect a larger portion of the population. The measures noted will be helpful though:

Currently, industry’s only recourse to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rules is to sue the government, which many manufacturers cannot do, as it puts their limited resources up against the full force of the federal government.

This bipartisan bill will allow needed recourse through appealing through Regional Directors of Industry Operations and Administrative Law Judges.

All things being fair and true, the ATF does need accountability. A lot more than the bill intends on offering. Potentially this first Second Amendment related bill is Crenshaw’s dip of the toe in the waters of freedom expansion. After speaking such a big game when it comes to our right to keep and bear arms, many would expect more. I’ll certainly be watching what Crenshaw introduces in this session of congress and report back with what else he might bring to the table.