Republican lawmakers are once again demanding answers about whether the Biden administration is attempting to impose gun control through the back door.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, informed his constituents on Sunday that he is among 25 GOP House members who want the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to explain a “broad and unprecedented effort,” as their letter to the agency stated, to revoke federal firearms licenses from legitimate dealers.
The lawmakers cited a recent article in The Federalist that indicated revocations are up 500 percent under President Joe Biden.
The lawmakers’ letter asserts that the ATF, at the direction of the Justice Department, is citing “minor infractions” that occurred between six months and 18 months earlier as the reason for revoked licenses. Those infractions occurred in cases that were already closed and often involve minor clerical errors “that were fully resolved and addressed by the businesses with no subsequent infractions.”
“The DOJ’s effort to force its administration’s agenda knot the ATF are particularly disturbing,” the lawmakers wrote. “Local ATF agents have shared they feel pressured to take actions against individual businesses that they do not feel are appropriate or in the interest of public safety.”
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The GOP members asserted that ATF field offices seem to be competing to see which ones can ring up the most revocations, or face repercussions for not meeting a quota.
The letter asserts the Justice Department’s top-down mandate is causing the ATF to antagonize gun dealers it has built a rapport with. That will subsequently destroy the “trust and confidence” between the regulators and the regulated.
“This storm of increased regulatory enforcement is directed at the industry as a whole without regard to the personal destruction wrought upon individual members,” the letter stated. As an example, they mentioned one gun dealer who died of an “anxiety attack” after learning of the ATF’s clampdown on his business, while another committed suicide as his license was being revoked.
The letter cited ATF officials’ claims from April that the agency is pursuing 273 revocation proceedings even though none of those dealers had compliance issues after their cases were closed.
“This patter, along with the claim that ATF field divisions are competing to revoke licenses, indicates a troubling trend of ATF attacking businesses to advance an anti-gun agenda,” the Republicans wrote.
Among the questions they want Gary Restaino, the acting ATF director, to answer is whether the Justice Department is leaning on the ATF to ramp up revocations. They also want revocation data from the Obama and Trump administrations to compare to what’s happening under Biden.
“In recent months, the number of FFL [federal firearms license] revocation proceedings initiated by the ATF have skyrocketed,” Congressman Steube said in his email to constituents.
“As the Left works to further erode our 2nd Amendment rights, we must stand strongly against these partisan power grabs by the Biden Administration’s agencies.”