ATF's FFL revocations at 16 year high

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The ATF hasn’t exactly been our favorite law enforcement agency of late. That’s because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been knee-deep in anti-gun shenanigans that simply cannot be tolerated in anything trying to resemble a free society.

And, it’s far from over.

It seems the revocation of Federal Firearm Licenses–the licenses that allow gun stores to operate–has hit a 16-year high.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked gun store licenses at a higher rate in 2022 than in any year since 2006, according to data published by the agency Tuesday.

The numbers provide the first indication that federal investigators have cracked down on lawbreaking gun dealers following guidance from the Biden administration ordering the agency to take a harsher tack during inspections.

Altogether, the agency revoked 92 licenses in 2022 – roughly 1.3 percent of all the dealers inspected. The total more than triples the number of licenses revoked in 2021, when a similar number of dealers were inspected. Another 136 dealers received warning conferences, the steepest penalty inspectors can recommend without revocation.

The pandemic hobbled the ATF’s ability to conduct compliance inspections at gun stores, and the total number of inspections has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, the data shows. Investigators conducted just over 7,000 inspections in 2022, compared with more than 13,000 in 2019. Still, they revoked more licenses in the past fiscal year than in any year since 2008.

What you’re not going to read in this report, however, is just why there are more licenses revoked than in recent years.

It’s not because gun stores are doing more and more illegal things, either.

Now, many of those revocations are because of simple paperwork errors, rather than anything intentional or egregious. In years past, the inspector would point out the issue and the FFL holder would make the correction. They’re honest mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong, there are warranted revocations that happen. They happen every year and I’m not claiming otherwise.

But those didn’t suddenly skyrocket overnight.

Yet why didn’t the report mention the changes in what can lead to the ATF revoking an FFL? Well, we get a hint in this next bit:

David Chipman, a former ATF agent who now works as an advisory board member for the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University, said he is encouraged by the data.

“The trendline is good,” he told The Trace. “I think we have to applaud the agency for holding the industry accountable – for doing its job.”

Two things stand out. One is that USA Today did this in partnership with The Trace, an explicitly anti-gun “journalism” group.

Another is describing Chipman as just an advisory board member with the Johns Hopkins operation. I mean, yes, he is that, but that glosses over his anti-gun sentiments. It suggests he’s merely a non-biased member of an advisory board to an academic institution.

But up until earlier this year, he was a senior policy advisor for the gun control group Giffords. (They did mention his work, but as “gun violence prevention” rather than what it really was: gun control.)

In other words, he’s heavily biased against guns, the firearm industry, and really anything to do with private ownership of guns. He’s also mocked gun owners in the past.

What’s more, he knows what kind of errors are leading the ATF to issue the revocations. He’s just too myopic due to his own biases to recognize that this isn’t doing anything positive.

After all, revocations are at a 16-year high, yet violent crime is still rampant. These revocations have accomplished absolutely nothing with regard to public safety. That alone should show that these FFL holders weren’t supplying guns to criminals. If they were the reason for our current problems, then removing them from the equation should have an impact.

They don’t.

Considering all the other stuff we’ve seen from the ATF, though, none of this should surprise us. It’s all the more reason for gun owners to step up and vote come November.