ATF Rule is ‘A Significant Step Toward a National Gun Registry,’ Say GOP Senators

(Photo: ATF Facebook)

A handful of Senate Republicans are speaking out against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) quest to reinterpret the nation’s gun laws, suggesting that it could set the table for a federal gun registry.  

In a letter published on Monday, Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Tom Tillis (N.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) warned that language in Proposed Rule 2021R-05, the one seeking to redefine firearm frames and receivers, would “take a significant step toward a national gun registry.”

Because it requires “FFL [federal firearms license] dealers to maintain personal gun owner information and records of transactions involving firearms, including their makes, models, and serial numbers—forever.” 

Under current federal law, FFLs only need to keep records of gun sales, form 4473s, for 20 years.  

The senators also raised concern about Proposed Rule 2021R-08, which seeks to regulate stabilizing braces, and firearms that accept them, as NFA items.  Owners would be forced to register them with the government, submit fingerprints and pay a $200 tax.  

Failure to do so could result in criminal prosecution.  Possessing an unregistered NFA firearm or a “contraband firearm” is a felony offense that carries with it a fine of up to $250,000, a prison sentence not exceeding 10 years, and the permanent loss of 2A rights. 

“This proposed rule would reverse years of interpretive guidance and recategorize millions of pistols and AR-15-style firearms as ‘short-barreled rifles,’ placing them under the strict regulatory scheme of the National Firearms Act and making it a federal felony to otherwise possess them,” the letter reads. “Indeed, the Proposed Rule states that it ‘may affect upwards of 1.4 million individuals.’”

SEE ALSO: McCloskeys Plead Guilty to Misdemeanors, Give Up Guns, Buy New AR-15

The senators end by blasting the ATF for acting as a legislative body as opposed to a regulatory agency.  

“These measures are concerning enough on their face. But more alarming is ATF’s apparent willingness to unilaterally make important firearms policy determinations wholly apart from Congress,” they write.  

“Americans’ rights to keep and bear firearms are safeguarded by the Second Amendment, and the responsibility for implementing those constitutional protections rests with elected lawmakers—not unelected federal bureaucrats,” they continue. 

They end the letter by posing these five questions to the agency, to be answered by June 25, 2021 (This Friday): 

  • 1. In the past, firearms product manufacturers have been repeatedly informed that many of the products they sell, including “receiver blanks” that have not yet been fully machined, are not considered “firearms” by ATF. Accordingly, significant reliance interests have vested. Will ATF continue to honor those prior determinations, including those pertaining to products currently on the market?
  • 2. What steps does ATF intend to take to ensure that any new information that would be retained by FFL dealers pursuant to Proposed Rule 2021R–05 is not subsequently used for the targeting of lawful gun owners by federal authorities or other politically-motivated purposes?
  • 3. What, if any, new measures does ATF anticipate taking to enforce the terms of Proposed Rule 2021R–08 against private gun owners?
  • 4. Proposed Rule 2021R–08 states that it “will not have substantial direct effects on the States, the relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.” This claim stands in tension with the fact that numerous states and other jurisdictions have passed Second Amendment sanctuary laws in response to perceived federal overreach. Why were these many laws not considered relevant to a federalism analysis in the course of developing Proposed Rule 2021R–08?
  • 5. What measures, if any, does ATF intend to take to attempt to enforce the terms of Proposed Rule 2021R–08 in jurisdictions subject to Second Amendment sanctuary laws?

Last week, 140 Congressmen sent a similar letter to the Dept. of Justice. It, too, criticized the agency for stepping out of its regulatory purview to infringe on the 2A rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of gun owners and 2A activists have submitted public comments in opposition to the proposed rules. To join the resistance and to add your comment, click HERE. Together, we may put a stop to this bureaucratic overreach by the ATF.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • Robert Peterson July 1, 2022, 8:48 am

    Here we go again. The ATF flaunts it’s intention to step beyond it’s legislated scope by “redefining” existing legislation, and the republican response is for a couple senators/congressman to write a “stern letter”. Mean while they allowed the senate to pass new gun legislation where none of these concerns were addressed. No where in this latest “gun safety act” is the issue of reigning in the ATF demanded as part of the “compromised bill”. The republicans keep letting opportunities to halt the forward progress of the antigun side’s agenda by giving them some of what they want so they don’t get more, knowing that the more will be in the next gun control tantrum.

  • JB July 3, 2021, 10:49 pm

    Congress can rein in the ATF any time it wants to. But Congress wont. It is because of Congress the ATF exists.

    The existance of the NFA is illegal.

    Yet lawmakers, the courts, and the executive branch conspire together to nullify the Second Amendment.

    It will take a gun rights movement on the scale and intensity of the civil rights movement to nudge the government to obey the law. Highly unlikely today

  • Rusty June 28, 2021, 10:23 am

    Remember the TRUMPSTOCK ban.

    THAT little nugget happened under a Republican President, and definitely helped with the present slide down the “slippery slope.”

    I was warning then that it would set a dangerous precedent, but no one wanted to cross a Republican President and reign him in. At least the NRA was “Disappointed “ on our collective behalf!!!

  • HK June 28, 2021, 10:15 am

    The people have always desired weapons since prehistoric times. Stock up, not forgetting tools and spare parts. Also there will always be a supply when there is a demand, that’s economics…besides:

    Criminals already outnumber the police and government forces…most crimes are already unsolved…why make that worse by creating new classes of criminals?

  • Abby Normal June 28, 2021, 10:11 am

    2A Sanctuary StateS need not play with the ATF. GO Texas!!

  • survivor50 June 28, 2021, 7:29 am

    ATF says… “FFL [federal firearms license] dealers to maintain personal gun owner information and records of transactions involving firearms, including their makes, models, and serial numbers—forever.”
    ” FOREVER ” !!! Only GOD gets to dictate FOREVER !!!

    It’s time to DEFUND the ATF !!!

    Who gave them the power to create LAW ??? ” NOBODY ” !!! That’s the business of CONGRESS ! And what a LAZY incompetent lot THEY are… Pass the buck to this ” AGENCY ” to do their dirty work…

    Time to STRIP those Rules, Regulations, and LAWS, that’ll put your ASTERISK in FEDERAL Prison and bankrupt you…from an UN-ELECTED agency !!! CONGRESS… this is YOUR job !!!

    CONGRESS !!! Set this ship of state STRAIGHT !!! Before you unintentionally SINK IT !!! (Incompetent fools…)

  • DEFENDER June 28, 2021, 7:21 am

    AND flooding the country with illegals from Mexico and South America so they can Out-Vote Certified Legal, Americans to insure they will remain in power from now on.
    “That’ is how the last election was “Stolen”.
    AND How ALL future elections will be.

    ie Using our “System” against itself.

    Sorry, Low Down, SOB’s.

    Truly Hope Not – but It “May” take a War to fix this.

    • DELCO June 28, 2021, 8:49 am

      DEFENDER PERFECTLY SAID… The way Biden and Harris continue to say the borders are closed is beyond FN outrageous. Our inner cities are literally WRECKED FOREVER, and dumping millions of illegals into them is causing property in the suburban areas to soar , because those who can flee are doing so. Anyone who supports a democrat is ANTO AMERICAN PERIOD.

  • R. Kot June 26, 2021, 12:30 am

    Oh, please come to my door to take them. Hey wait, if I befriend Hunter Biden, I’ll automatically get a free pass.

  • Chuck Johnson June 25, 2021, 6:23 pm

    As mentioned in a previous comment, many of the rules being made are coming from bureaucracies, meaning people who were not elected are creating rules which will be enforced as if they are laws. The bureaucrats are given this authority by congress and it is a rather questionable practice. The congress does this because they know the rules will be unpopular and the bureaucracy (agency) will be the scapegoat but because they are not elected, we the people cannot get rid of the people making the rules. For example, nobody likes taxes, the constitution gives congress the power to tax the people so the congress creates the IRS. Then when people complain about tax rules the congress just says, “We can’t do anything about that, the IRS did it.”

  • bruce June 25, 2021, 4:02 pm

    I don’t think you boys need worry unduly about any ATF registry, since you got your lilliputian congressmen to restrict its record keeping to what can be made note of by typewriters and copy paper. Where’s Jonathan Swift when we need him. He’d love you guys.

    • Kane June 26, 2021, 12:03 pm

      Umm, just wondering what puts you above the fray.

  • Ziggy June 25, 2021, 3:33 pm

    Rise up, f@#k the gov’t, and ATF, they come for your guns, empty the clip.

  • Altoids June 25, 2021, 2:58 pm

    Attitude of the present Administration and the ATF…

    Oppose it all you want. You’re getting oppressive gun control followed by Marxism in this country and you pipsqueaks, be you private citizen, representative or senator, have nothing to say of any consequence.

    End of story.

  • Old wolf June 25, 2021, 2:36 pm

    And what will these idiots do about the real gun problem , you know the ones that don’t have a league gun and kill with them . Like the blm and atefia ??? Oh I forgot their the delusional democrats pets and do what they say . Cause they never attack any of their places .

  • Frank June 25, 2021, 1:59 pm

    SO… Do you support the Convention of States? It’s the ONLY way left to reform the out-of-control Federal government, short of war.

    • Shanz June 27, 2021, 1:02 am

      A convention of free men. Where do I sign up?

  • Me June 25, 2021, 12:36 pm

    “These measures are concerning enough on their face. But more alarming is ATF’s apparent willingness to unilaterally make important firearms policy determinations wholly apart from Congress,”

    Well they are a Federal agency. Making policy is sort of what they do. Some Senators complaining that they are doing what Congresses empowered them to do is a little weird and disingenuous.

    Now, if they don’t like what the agency, that they empower, does then they should should fix it by legislation. But implying the agency is doing something improper is incorrect and accomplishes nothing. I mean, it almost feels like they are pandering to some group or something…

  • Old OutdoorsGuy June 25, 2021, 12:02 pm

    “A handful of Senate Republicans are speaking out against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) quest to reinterpret the nation’s gun laws, suggesting that it could set the table for a federal gun registry.”

    This opening statement lays down the foundation for many of this country’s problems with the government NOT abiding by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We formed a Congress of representatives which governed the actions of the people with whom the VOTERS placed their trust after we challenged the domination of British rule in 1776 and went to war against Great Britain!

    The country was actually ruled by the Articles of Confederation after our Declaration of Freedom from British rule, not a completely iron clad document but a starting point to our final destination of total freedom from Tyranny. We actually WON our Independence after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, ending the War of Revolution and giving us our status as an independent nation from Great Britain. After Shays’ Rebellion, in 1786, the first test of our new government and its laws, we sought a more specific and clearly outlined set of rules to govern the new nation. And delegates from each state were sent to Philadelphia, PA the following Spring to decide the specifics of the rules with which this new nation shall be governed. After debating throughout the summer, the U. S. Constitution was finally approved in Sept, 1787 and then ratified into law in June, 1788. In Sept, 1789 the Bill of Rights was formally approved by Congress, including in the first 10 amendments the right to freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.

    After this short synopsis of history for comparison, my first question, on reading that opening statement is this:


    IMHO, it’s HIGH TIME we stop doing things in bits and pieces and get down to the nuts and bolts regarding the interference of GOVERMENT in the affairs of LAW ABIDING CITIZENS of the United States of America!! WE voted these people into office! They wouldn’t be there but for each vote which WE VOTERS cast on ballots during every election to date. C’mon people, get your heads out of the sand and start to take RESPONSIBILITY for your OWN ACTIONS!

    It is almost too late to get this whole “My vote won’t matter” thing out on the table and clear up what YOUR VOTE really MEANS! We have become such a passive voting nation comprised of active voters, some who only vote when there is a National Election, and many who just don’t give a DAMN about who gets into office, as long as they don’t interfere with “MY LIFE”! Well, the time is getting closer when, if we DON’T BAND TOGETHER, we all will end up being dictated to and “Socialized” for or worse if this is allowed to continue. Make no mistake, if the Rule of Law is allowed to be “bastardized” into something quite the opposite from the original meaning, for the sake of “convenience”, we all will pay a drastic price for not acting when we COULD have made a DIFFERENCE in the outcome!!

    I am simply an old man stating a layman’s opinion, but, after almost 80 years on this planet, I have come to realize that my own complacence played a small part in the problems we face today. There was a time when I had more interest in building a private business and paying bills and raising a family and doing all of those things of which we all strive to accomplish as we progress up the “ladder of success” to whatever level we want to reach. I have been a registered voter since I was legally old enough to make an “X” on a paper ballot but there were times when I felt more of a priority for handling a business problem than I did for taking a portion of my work day to go and vote. Now, as we finally see the circle closing on what we thought could never HAPPEN in our lifetime, or EVER, for that matter, it becomes obvious to me that I was quite wrong in thinking that my vote didn’t MATTER. It did and it does and it always WILL MATTER as long as we, as a nation, take time to BAND TOGETHER and get out the vote and ensure that it is done PROPERLY and LAWFULLY while always keeping in mind to vote “SMART”. That means, paying attention to WHAT the candidates have to say as well as how they approach the problems we face on a daily basis.

    I never liked Donald Trump, but I voted for him 5 years ago as a lesser of 2 evils, and I voted for him again last election based on what he did while in the Oval Office. I have to say that I still wouldn’t like Mr. Trump as a friend or neighbor, but I will say this to his credit, he didn’t owe his election success to financial backers, rich financiers looking for someone to do their bidding when the time came, or anyone else whatsoever. He also made some decisions during his tenure which weren’t popular but he GOT THE JOB DONE!! Sure he acted like a snotty little rich kid sometimes, stroked his own ego at other times, and generally did what he damned well pleased, but he left the country in better shape than what it was in when he started.

    We still have time to fix this mess. It will take the GOA and many other groups of people all BANDING TOGETHER to get it turned around. BUT, if we don’t act soon, if we leave it for “SOMEONE ELSE” to fix, WE MAY FIND OUR DEMOCRACY LOST FOREVER and that sounds more and more possible as we find out, on a daily basis, that the RECENT “winners” have won on false promises, outright lies, and lawless disregard for the rights of those who have trusted them with making fair and honest decisions on their behalf.

    Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and I am grateful to the GOA for allowing me to state mine here on this forum today.

    • Frank June 25, 2021, 1:56 pm

      SO… Do you support the Convention of States? It’s the ONLY way left to reform the out-of-control Federal government, short of war.

  • David Hilliker June 25, 2021, 11:15 am

    Enough of these attacks against our freedom. These rules are right out of Hitlers 1930’s Propaganda in Germany. How do we stop this attack on American Patrions Rights under the Constitution?

  • Clint W. June 25, 2021, 10:15 am

    Keep in mind, from 1994 to 2006, and 2016 to 2018, Republicans had both Houses and a Prez, and did nothing in this area to safeguard gunowners and 2A supporters such that we would not have to face the idiocy of an administration bent on taking away our rights and making us criminals. They couldn’t even stop giving away money to the national propaganda arm, PBS.

    • Kane June 26, 2021, 12:17 pm

      Not quite, Trump repealed the BHO era Social Security rep payee gun ban that would have disarmed tens of thousands in his first term. If it is worth the debate I could depart from just memory and research the issue further but I do NOT believe your point is totally without merit. More should have been done.

    • Rusty June 28, 2021, 10:17 am

      I am not sure everyone will agree that the President from 1992 – 2000 was a Republican. I remember him being married to Hillary 😉

  • P Skurla June 25, 2021, 8:22 am

    Per an article in the NY Post this week, when the NYPD researched the sale of handguns used in crimes in NYC, the average time from when the firearm was sold by a FFL to it being used in a crime was 8.5 YEARS. All this clamping down on FFL’s by Biden et al is not based on any facts and will do nothing!
    Also how about all the ILLEGAL weapons coming across the southern border with all the drugs and human trafficking?

  • Nick June 25, 2021, 7:42 am

    First “only” keeping records for 20 years is a long time to begin with. Second, there will be a Republican trifecta in congress by 2024 and since republicans have set things up so that no Democrat will ever be inaugurated again there is nothing to be worried about folks. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, Republican run states sending a new set of electors to congress if their guy doesn’t win or a Republican Congress voting not to certify will ensure their control until the country completely falls apart. Who needs a damn democracy anyhow?

    • Dave Emery June 25, 2021, 1:50 pm

      Nonsense. You sound like a Dem troll.

    • DELCO June 28, 2021, 9:02 am

      Nick don’t you have a BLM meeting to go to. Voter suppression? Who are you Stacy Abrams relative . Roll along …

  • Jack Brazzon June 25, 2021, 7:31 am

    After hearing Biden’s speech, can anybody tell what paper work I need to fill out to buy a squadron of F-15s or are they covered under the current 4473 form? What say you ATF.

  • Dr Motown June 25, 2021, 7:23 am

    BATF could’ve been dismantled or reigned in years ago when Republicans controlled the Legislature….can’t ask the Demoncrats to respect Constitutional rights or do anything now

  • Jack Brazzon June 25, 2021, 7:19 am

    I recently saw a ad for a detachable folding SHOULDER stock for a hand gun. Barrel length 3 to 4 inches , mag capacity about 30 rounds. Nobody seems to have a problem with that so what’s the problem with the Civilian Semi Auto AR 15 pistol with 30 round mags and a arm brace. I see a bigger problem with short barrel handguns with detachable shoulder stocks. Just Sayin What say you ATF?

  • Rob June 25, 2021, 6:49 am

    We will not comply! Si Vis Pacem Parabellum!

  • Lamp June 25, 2021, 6:32 am

    Repeating history, 1939 Germany the rise of a dictator Hitler…..

  • KB Barrett June 25, 2021, 5:16 am

    all the paperwork we fill out each purchase, and the dealer runs the background check each time, and the serial numbers are documented – they already keep that. The bad guys
    are going to have firearms unlimited with none of that. always.
    widow of RET/DAV/USA. central Florida

  • Snowdin June 25, 2021, 4:54 am

    Anyone who complies with this BS has Shite for brains.

  • Wayne Chapman June 25, 2021, 4:12 am

    Any politician that’s that does not stand up for I constitutional rights should be fired immediately especially the first amendment and the second amendment our forefathers must have fought these was very important

  • Jim June 25, 2021, 4:04 am

    It is good to have your 2Asupport

  • Jrp June 23, 2021, 7:59 pm

    The federal government and its agencies have become the epitome of tyranny the forefathers spoke and warned us about. The 2nd amendment was put into place for just that reason. They now are trying to solidify that power by removing all resistance to their absolute power. They will use the guns that they say you can’t have to confiscate yours. They will do what the British we’re doing by raiding the armories. This is all being done on the backs of the people that actually pay for all of the violations of your rights. When will the American people declare no more and throw off such government. No where in the constitution grants them this kind of power. They use a law clearly in violation of the 2nd amendment to just keep infringing on rights they had no authority to take away. We the people under the constitution are presumed innocent and have rights given to us by our creator not a government. States need to leave the union and cut of the money sent to the federal government. Any law or regulation made in violation of the constitution is illegal and a violation of their oath of office. We now have people that are unelected making up rules to suit their judgement and showing us what corruption truly looks like. Almost like we are under British rule all over again. Do as we say not as we do.

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