Some congressional Republicans are banding together to look into the Biden Administration’s gathering and assembling of almost 1 billion records involving private firearms transactions by Americans. The group is reportedly investigating the plans of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to “sweep up” the records of every domestic gun sale.
Thirty-five other House members have joined Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX), leading the probe into the ATF database that is now shown to contain far more records than previously disclosed to the public. The database is primarily digitized and searchable and has led to allegations that the AFT is breaking federal law that prevents the government from creating a national gun registry.
The lawmakers are calling for disclosures by ATF about how the database is used. ATF says that the information is used to track firearms used in criminal acts. However, the agency admits that the database is often not valid as a prosecution tool. Lawmakers say that fact, in addition to the appearance that ATF is attempting to capture records from every licensed transaction nationwide, gives the impression that the Administration’s motive is to create a searchable registry of gun ownership.
Cloud points to a regulatory change requiring firearms dealers to maintain records forever as a massive federal overreach. He urged ATF to change the regulation, which the agency has admitted does little to help prosecute crime.
Cloud wrote that the nature of the ATF database indicates that the agency is primarily interested in gathering private information about law-abiding American gun owners.
The lawmakers have demanded that ATF detail separately the number of illegal firearms traces it has conducted using more than 20 years old records. License holders usually have been required to maintain transactional records for 20 years. The lawmakers say that they expect the number of old records that are useful is minimal.
Gun Owners of America director Aidan Johnston said that ATF appears to be mainly interested in amassing information on legal firearms owners. He said that the digital database is not being maintained to “protect the Second Amendment.” Instead, he said AFT wants to “register and confiscate firearms.” He noted that the Administration could start using the database for that purpose as soon as later this year when Biden’s plan to “ban up to 40 million pistols” could go into effect.