Hawley wants answers on ATF registry

Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP

The ATF can say they’re not doing a registry all they want. They can have their lapdogs in Congress say the same thing. No matter how much they shout it from the heavens, their push to digitize old records from closed gun stores represents the beginnings of a very real registry.

Couple that with a new rule that will require stores to maintain records indefinitely and you’ve got a very worrying trend.

And that’s not just wrong, it’s illegal.

Now, Sen. Josh Hawley is demanding answers from the ATF.

Today Senator Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Gary M. Restaino demanding answers on the agency’s new rules that would unduly burden law-abiding gun owners and dealers. Senator Hawley previously sent a letter to ATF on this matter in June 2021.

Senator Hawley asked, “What steps does ATF intend to take to ensure that any new information that may be retained by FFL dealers pursuant to Final Rule 2021R–05F is not subsequently used for the targeting of lawful gun owners by federal authorities or other politically-motivated purposes?”

ATF’s Proposed Rule 2021R–05, which has recently been finalized by ATF, would require gun dealers to maintain gun owner and transaction information forever, a dangerously close step toward an unconstitutional national gun registry.  Proposed Rule 2021R–08 would reclassify millions of pistols and AR-15-style firearms as “short-barreled rifles,” subjecting them to the rigid controls of the National Firearms Act and making it a federal felony to possess them without going through a byzantine waiver process.

You can read Hawley’s entire letter here.

There are a lot of issues with the ATFs rules, but the biggest is that they’re able to make rules at all.

Don’t get me wrong, creating policies their employees are required to follow is fine and no one is talking about that, but creating rules for the American people to follow–actual laws–is a problem.

Hawley is right to question the ATF, but he should also be questioning his colleagues in Congress for passing off their power to create laws to bureaucrats.

That said, these are troubling rules, to say the least. Declaring AR-pistols to be short-barreled rifles is troubling because there are probably millions in circulation and there’s literally no way to track how many there are. People have been assembling and disassembling AR-pattern rifles like Lego for so long that it’s impossible to tell what is what.

For us, that’s a feature, not a bug.

However, that also means that particular rule simply cannot be enforced.

As for the registry, Hawley is absolutely right to call them out on that too. They can claim whatever they want, but let’s be clear here, it’s a registry. It may not be intended that way and it may not be a particularly great one, but it’s still a registry.

You can call a fart aromatherapy if you want as well, but it doesn’t change the nature of what it is either.

The ATF needs to answer these questions.

Then they need to stop these blatantly wrong and unconstitutional acts.