A new report by the Washington Examiner sheds light on the apparent fact that the FBI had worked with the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to strip U.S. citizens of their 2A rights.
The story originated from documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the gun-rights group Gun Owners of America (GOA), which detailed a widespread effort to use a self-reporting form to push individuals to surrender the right to keep and bear arms.
The FBI used this internal form to strip gun rights from at least 23 people between 2016 and 2019. Agents served the forms to individuals at their homes in Maine, Michigan, and Massachusetts, as well as other undisclosed places.
Those who signed the form were registered with the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS) and asked to declare that they were a danger to themselves or others, or that they lack the “mental capacity adequately to contract” their lives.
In addition to the FBI’s use of the form, documents from the lawsuit show that other federal agencies — including ICE, the Secret Service, and the Social Security Administration — either used the form or obtained copies from the FBI.
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) wondered if even more federal agencies may have been involved.
“It’s just really, really concerning,” said Clyde.
“Is Veterans Affairs using this form to try and get veterans to self-report and deny themselves their Second Amendment right?” Clyde posed to the Washington Examiner. “That needs to be discovered. We need to investigate that. In the majority, I think it becomes a valid question and a valid investigation, and I think we need to spotlight that.”
Not only the repeated use of the form, but its very existence raises multiple legal questions.
The most fundamental issue is that there is no evidence that the form ever moved through a process required under federal law for government agencies to receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget before obtaining information from the public.
The next problem is the use of the form. The Gun Control Act of 1968 outlines clearly how someone may be barred from the right to own or transfer firearms if he or she is “adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution.”
However, as one lawyer told the Washington Examiner, the act does not say that people can rule themselves unfit to own firearms. “The act is clear, and it says ‘adjudicated,'” John Harris, a lawyer who directs the Tennessee Firearms Association.
The discovery of additional signed forms could further prompt House Republicans to investigate the FBI’s usage of them in the next Congress, once they assume control in January.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is poised to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in September that he was planning oversight in connection to the forms and other alleged issues.
The Washington Examiner report comes just days after Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee forwarded a bill called the, “Preventing Suicide Through Voluntary Firearm Purchase Delay Act” (H.R. 8361).
Per that bill, the attorney general would establish a federally-controlled database of people who freely agree to surrender their Second Amendment rights.
Those on this voluntary “do not sell” list would be tracked via the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Other legislators, such as Reps. Dan Bishop (R-NC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), have joined Jordan in saying that this recent legislative push is evidence that the FBI acted inappropriately – restricting people’s gun rights with forms without congressional approval or knowledge.
“What we’re looking at is evidence that the FBI went off on their own and wrote the bill and implemented the bill that you are trying to pass here today, or did pass, and will try to pass on the floor,” said Massie at the House Judiciary hearing on Dec. 8th.