GOA blasts ATF's illegal gun registry

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The ATF cannot be trusted. I made that case earlier this week. They’re heavily biased toward the anti-gun side of the debate–a debate which isn’t explicitly about them, it should be noted–and routinely go out of their way to make life difficult for law-abiding gun dealers and owners.

But when I wrote that previous post, I forgot to mention anything about their illegal gun registry efforts.

Yet Gun Owners of America didn’t. They’re busy blasting the ATF for this effort.

A gun rights organization’s new report on the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) accuses the agency of creating an “illegal gun registry” with a new rule as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes aim in Congress.

Gun Owners of America (GOA), a gun rights advocacy group, blasted the ATF for their “illegal gun registry” in their new report on the finalized rule requiring federal firearms licensees (FFLs) to maintain purchase records indefinitely.

The group’s report on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requested documents revealed the ATF “is maintaining a digital, searchable, centralized registry of guns and gun owners in violation of various federal prohibitions.”

“In November of 2021, an internal ATF memo leaked by Gun Owners of America revealed that ATF had processed and digitized over 50,000,000 ‘out of business’ records of gun dealers in FY 2021,” the report reads. “This report was picked up by major pundits and news outlets, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and the Blaze.”

GOA wrote in their report that the “ATF has reached a point where it has converted nearly one billion records (required to be kept by FFLs) into a single, centralized, and searchable national gun registry, that is routinely searched by multiple data fields (except, reportedly, by gun owner name).”

Of course, some have claimed that the effort to digitize these records isn’t really a gun registry.

The thing is, yeah, it is. It really and truly is.

Especially in light of a renewed push for universal background checks that would necessitate paperwork on every single firearm transaction in the United States.

It might not be an efficient registry–that, I’ll grant you–but it is a registry.

And that’s going to be a problem.

You see, how long before there’s a push to require gun stores to input Form 4473 data into an online database? At that point, coupled with universal background checks, and you have the perfect storm for a gun registry that can be easily searchable by the ATF.

They can simply hop on their computer and look to see who owns what gun.

At that point, it’s not difficult to look at see how many guns a given person owns.

Now, it’s never going to work perfectly. Too many of us have purchased guns from other people over the years where those guns aren’t going to show up. With 3D printers and home CNC machines, people can build their own firearms from the ground up. Those won’t show up either.

But a registry doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be a problem.

After all, most people who have bought a gun from someone else or built their own have also purchased a firearm lawfully.

We’ll all end up in the database one way or another.

So I’m glad the GOA is hammering the ATF on this. It needs to be hammered a lot and by a lot more people.