CNN (big surprise) apparently doesn’t understand how white papers work.
The news outlet recently released an “exclusive” report revealing that a gun expert made suggestions to the ATF on regulations that could or should be rolled back.
Behind the scenes, a gun industry lobbyist provided comments that were directly incorporated into an internal memo at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to newly disclosed documents — a white paper that suggested the agency peel back a number of gun regulations.
*Gasp* How dare someone from the gun industry take an interest in the ATF’s regulations.
The white paper was produced by Acting ATF Deputy Director Ronald B. Turk and dated on President Trump’s inauguration day, January 20, 2017. It says the agency should consider allowing gun dealers to sell across state lines, loosen restrictions on gun noise suppressors, and pull back on its scrutiny of gun shops.
In other words, the ATF was smart enough to realize that a Republican administration was unlikely to be interested in additional regulations and that maybe the previous administration had gone a bit far.
“If I am missing the mark on a major issue or disregarding a major discussion point any feedback you have would be appreciated,” Turk wrote to the lobbyist, Mark Barnes, on January 9, 2017. “My hope is that the agency can demonstrate flexibility where appropriate and identify areas for further discussion, recognizing that solving everyone’s concerns on each side would be difficult.”
So, Turk was being reasonable! The humanity.
CNN goes on to note how gun-control groups were left out of the process.
The documents on the drafting of the white paper, as provided by the ATF, do not reflect any input from gun-control groups.
Given that gun-control groups would oppose anything in the white paper that doesn’t call for, well, more gun control, this is hardly surprising.
Here’s more outrage from CNN.
Although the finalized white paper was leaked last year to the Washington Post, it was not known that Barnes — a lawyer who has lobbied for the National Rifle Association, a gun show trade group, and gun manufacturers — had helped draft it in the first place.
And? This is routine, folks. Government agencies generally reach out to experts in the private sector for relevant expertise. Of course, that didn’t stop anti-gunners from losing it over the news.
Documents revealing the white paper and its never-before-seen drafts were obtained in recent weeks by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control group that sued ATF to release them under public records laws.
“I was surprised to see that the draft document had been emailed out to a gun industry lawyer and the final product took his suggestions as edits — without any disclosure of that until we went to court to get these documents,” said Avery W. Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Center.
Why would they disclose it to you? So you could get your panties in a wad, yet again? Your beef is that ATF isn’t listening to you anymore.
After the Washington Post’s story about the white paper last February, the Brady Center filed a Freedom of Information Act public records request to ATF. The agency acknowledged it received the request, but for months it refused to respond or provide the documents. The Brady Center sued in October. At the behest of a federal judge in December, ATF agreed to release documents in January.
“There was a secret white paper that was partially written by the gun lobby. That’s exactly the kind of thing the Freedom of Information Act is supposed to address — transparency of government,” Gardiner said.
For years conservative groups have had to sue to get routine document requests answered properly. Welcome to the struggle that is our life.
The finalized memo, dated inauguration day 2017, stated its goals more diplomatically.
“This white paper is intended to provide ideas and provoke conversation; it is not guidance or policy of any kind,” it said.
Its revised title: “Federal Firearms Regulations: Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations.”
So, the ATF wasn’t actually proposing anything, just giving options to the White House? How horrible.
As the Washington Post reported last year, the white paper suggested a number of ways to reduce the agency’s regulation of gun manufacturers, dealers, owners and international trade. All of these reflected priorities of the gun industry.
These are all things the gun industry has been asking the ATF to consider for years. Not to mention, a white paper doesn’t mean any of it is actually going to happen.
Here’s one of the suggestions in the paper.
Turk suggested the agency limit its scrutiny of licensed gun dealers at the United States border with Mexico, a strategy meant to limit trafficking semiautomatic weapons to drug cartels in Mexico, where they are illegal.
CNN stops just short of repeating the “90 Percent” lie, but they’re implying it heavily, here. The reality is that the cartels do not need to buy semi-autos from the U.S. when they can buy or steal fully automatic weapons from the Mexican military.
Here’s another suggestion CNN singled out.
He also recommended that ATF reduce the reporting obligations placed on gun dealers that sell a high number of guns eventually used in crimes and traced by police, to pursue only shops that sold 25 such guns instead of 10. That change “would likely have a positive impact on the firearms industry,” he wrote.
It probably would. It’s also probably a non-starter.
Turk’s memo also proposed that ATF consider allowing gun dealers to sell across state lines at gun shows, which critics have noted would make it more difficult for law enforcement to track guns used in crimes.
Which “critics” are they referring to?
I could go on, but this thing is already getting a bit long. Suffice to say, there’s a ton of hand-wringing and dives for a fainting couch here, but little real substance. The ATF submitted a white paper to the administration suggesting some things that were worth looking into. Some of them, like deregulation of suppressors or a new sporting-use study on AR and AK pattern rifles, make sense. Others were non-starters. All of this is what a white-paper is for — to spark discussion.
The reality is that CNN is, as usual, just trying to stir up hysteria rather than simply reporting the news.