The gun control group known as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for information relating to “bad apple” gun dealers as well as a white paper that made headlines earlier this year.
The complaint claims that the ATF has failed to comply with two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
One asks for all warning letters, warning conference notices, and the underlying reports of violations issued to federal firearms licensees within the last two years. It also asks the ATF to hand over all notices of “revocation of license” issued to federal firearms licensees from the same time period.
The Brady Campaign claims that these documents will help the organization achieve its “mission” to “hold accountable gun dealers” whose “reckless and irresponsible practices worsen the problem of gun violence in America.”
Brady Co-President Avery Gardiner doubled down on this line of reasoning in a statement released this week.
“The ATF has a critical role in monitoring the gun industry and keeping America safe from gun violence,” he said. “We sought information about its work, and it did not respond, even though it is required to do so under federal law. We certainly hope that ATF is doing its job and the public deserves these documents so we can make sure that the ATF is doing everything it can to stop gun trafficking and other crimes.”
In the second part of the lawsuit, the Brady Campaign claims the ATF has failed to release communications between ATF employees and outside entities relating to a leaked white paper written earlier this year by ATF second-in-command Roland Turk.
The white paper, published by the Washington Post in January, advocates removing restrictions on the sale of suppressors; conducting a study concerned with lifting the ban on imported “assault weapons”; and requiring a higher amount of crime guns to be traced back to specific dealers before the federal government asks for additional information from those dealers.
While the Brady Campaign does not accuse the ATF of foul play, the lawsuit does note that the white paper was leaked on the day of President Trump’s inauguration. It also points out that the National Rifle Association contributed financially to that campaign, and that the aims of the white paper “appear consistent with the NRA’s agenda of removing and reducing firearms regulations.”
Accordingly, the FOIA request seeks all internal ATF communications relating to the white paper as well as all communications that relate to the white paper between the ATF, members of the Presidential Transition Team, and representatives of the National Rifle Association.
The Brady Campaign claims that it needs all of these documents to “reduce gun-related injury and death” and to “educate the public.”