When the Obama administration inserted race and ethnicity inquiries into its federal form for gun purchases, industry leaders said the move lacks reason and may lead to racial profiling.
“Nobody can figure out why officials want this information because it clearly does not provide anything more about a person’s criminal background, than with a person’s criminal background-check.” In fact, criminal background checks and instant checks are useless tools for fighting crime, he said. “Out of 11 million background checks that were done over the last year of record, 14 resulted in convictions.”
This is a huge waste of money, he said. “And they are just going to waste even more by asking completely irrelevant questions.”
GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their Second Amendment freedom to keep and bear arms. Pratt said with little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in April 2012 amended its Form 4473 to require gun buyers to distinguish ethnic and race relations.
Buyers must identify themselves as either Hispanic, Latino or not, and the buyer must indicate race, as follows: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white. The 2012 modification was the only change to Form 4473, said Anthony Melé, founder and president of Ami Global Security, a defense trade and manufacturer exporter of firearms.
“The category item number is 10 and the question is broken-down by ethnicity and race in parts 10a and 10b.” Federal law only requires a background check not a gun owner race-count, he said. The new requirement is not or should not be an indication of a criminal record, he said. “I do not see where one’s identity becomes clearer or one’s choice would preclude them from owning a firearm.”
The New York gun dealer said the subcategory is lacking in foresight. For example, choosing between Hispanic and Latino does not make sense, said Melé. “The two options, to me, mean the same thing.” In addition, he said more statistical data is not going to prevent a single crime.
“The gun is no safer by subdividing the racial description of the owner,” he said. “It only tells the government what subdivided ethnicity owns guns versus the single white category.” Whether the information is being collected for race-war politics or raw-statistical compilation, he said there is no security value to the policy. Pratt, who has been executive director of GOA for over 30 years, said inappropriate questions place gun sellers in a vulnerable position.
“There is more of an opportunity to commit an act outside of the law.” If a seller accepts a form from a buyer – that leaves a question blank, they technically committed a crime, he said. Many times applicants skip over the Hispanic/Latino box and only check their race, or vice – versa, he said. “Both are federal errors that can be held against the dealer.” If there is a pattern, the seller could lose their license, he said.
“So the dealers are very upset.” The regulatory agency improperly makes-up rules not only without congressional authority, but without authority at all, said Pratt. “Congress does not have the authority to fund the costs of ATF in the first place.”
Earlier this month Congressman Frank James “Jim” Sensenbrenner Jr. (R.-Wis.) of the “Badger State” introduced the ATF Elimination Act which would dissolve ATF and merge its exclusive duties into existing federal agencies, he said. In a press release Sensenbrenner said the ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal ridden agency that lacks a clear mission. “It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership,” he said.
“For decades it has been branded by high profile failures.” Pratt, who is a house delegate in the Virginia legislature, said administrative changes, provides little law enforcement value while creating the risk of privacy intrusions and racial profiling.
“Even the ACLU has objected; they see that asking these identifying questions is an invasion of privacy and has nothing to do with a person’s criminal background.”