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Senior ATF Official Proposes Loosening Gun Regulations

Feb­ru­ary 6 at 1:34 PM
The sec­ond-high­est-rank­ing offi­cial at the Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobac­co, Firearms and Explo­sives has writ­ten a pro­pos­al to reduce gun reg­u­la­tions, includ­ing exam­in­ing a pos­si­ble end to the ban on import­ing assault weapons into the Unit­ed States.

The “white paper” by Ronald B. Turk, asso­ciate deputy direc­tor and chief oper­at­ing offi­cer of the ATF, calls for remov­ing restric­tions on the sale of gun silencers; allow­ing gun deal­ers to have more guns used in crimes traced to their stores before the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment requires addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion from the deal­er; and ini­ti­at­ing a study on lift­ing the ban on import­ed assault weapons.

Restric­tion on imports serves ques­tion­able pub­lic safe­ty inter­ests, as these rifles are already gen­er­al­ly legal­ly avail­able for man­u­fac­ture and own­er­ship in the Unit­ed States,” Turk wrote of the ban on import­ed AR-15s and AK-style weapons.

The 11-page white paper, obtained by The Wash­ing­ton Post, is titled “Options to Reduce or Mod­i­fy Firearms Reg­u­la­tions.” The pro­pos­al opens with the word­ing of the Sec­ond Amend­ment and is dat­ed Jan. 20.

This white paper offers a dis­turb­ing series of give­aways to the gun indus­try that would weak­en reg­u­la­to­ry over­sight of the gun indus­try with­out ade­quate con­sid­er­a­tion of the impact on pub­lic safe­ty,” said Chelsea Par­sons, vice pres­i­dent of guns and crime pol­i­cy at the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress, a lib­er­al think tank.

ATF has long described its reg­u­la­to­ry func­tion as a core part of its law enforce­ment mis­sion to fight gun crime, yet this paper seems to pri­or­i­tize reduc­ing per­ceived bur­dens on the gun indus­try over an inter­est in pro­tect­ing pub­lic safe­ty from the ille­gal diver­sion of firearms,” Par­sons said.

The white paper has the ATF seal on its cov­er and lists Turk’s name and ATF title. But an agency spokes­woman said it doesn’t rep­re­sent the views of the ATF.

It’s sim­ply his opin­ion, and it’s to gen­er­ate dia­logue,” said spokes­woman Jan Kemp.

Sev­er­al of the reduced firearms reg­u­la­tions are sup­port­ed by the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion, which has lob­bied for some of the pro­pos­als for years.

Cur­rent law strict­ly lim­its the sale of gun silencers, devices that are attached to or part of the bar­rel of a gun that reduce noise and vis­i­ble muz­zle flash. While it is legal to buy silencers in most states, a pur­chase requires a nine-month wait­ing time and a spe­cial $200 tax. The gun indus­try and the NRA have long com­plained about these restric­tions under the Nation­al Firearms Act, the law that reg­u­lates machine guns, and are lob­by­ing for leg­is­la­tion to make it eas­i­er to buy silencers.

We look for­ward to work­ing with the new attor­ney gen­er­al as he puts the focus of the Jus­tice Depart­ment back where it belongs — on pros­e­cut­ing vio­lent crim­i­nals, not harass­ing law-abid­ing gun own­ers. After eight years of over­reach by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, it’s time to roll back reg­u­la­tions that serve no legit­i­mate law enforce­ment pur­pose,” said Chris W. Cox, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the NRA Insti­tute for Leg­isla­tive Action.

Don­ald Trump Jr. vis­it­ed a Utah-based com­pa­ny that man­u­fac­tures gun silencers, which pro­po­nents call sup­pres­sors. It’s legal to buy gun silencers in most states, but they require long wait times and a spe­cial tax under strin­gent reg­u­la­tions. (Footage pro­vid­ed by SilencerCo/YouTube)

One sup­port­er of relaxed reg­u­la­tions on silencers is Don­ald Trump Jr., the president’s old­est son, who is a hunter. Repub­li­can law­mak­ers have pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that, rather than focus­ing on the Sec­ond Amend­ment, frames the mat­ter as a pub­lic health issue to pro­tect the hear­ing of gun own­ers. The bill, which would elim­i­nate the tax and long wait­ing peri­od to buy a silencer, is called the Hear­ing Pro­tec­tion Act.

Silencers are very rarely used in crim­i­nal shoot­ings,” the white paper states. “Giv­en the lack of crim­i­nal­i­ty asso­ci­at­ed with silencers, it is rea­son­able to con­clude that they should not be viewed as a threat to pub­lic safe­ty.”

Gun-con­trol advo­cates point out that machine guns, reg­u­lat­ed under the same law as silencers, are also rarely used in crime because of the dif­fi­cul­ty of obtain­ing them.

In 1989, the George H.W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion banned the import of semi­au­to­mat­ic assault rifles. Turk’s white paper, which refers to them as “mod­ern sport­ing rifles,” notes that their use has “increased expo­nen­tial­ly in sport shoot­ing.”

Those firearm types are now stan­dard for hunt­ing activ­i­ties,” accord­ing to the paper. “These restric­tions have placed many lim­i­ta­tions on importers, while at the same time impos­ing a heavy work­load” on the ATF.

Fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions stip­u­late that fed­er­al­ly licensed gun deal­ers who sold 10 or more guns used in crimes in the pre­vi­ous three years should receive a “demand let­ter” from the ATF that com­pels them to pro­vide the agency with more infor­ma­tion about the guns they have sold. The Turk paper states that increas­ing the num­ber of crime guns sold before the ATF sends a demand let­ter “would like­ly have a pos­i­tive impact on the firearms indus­try and still meet pro­gram objec­tives.”

ATF has used its demand let­ter author­i­ty spar­ing­ly to col­lect cru­cial infor­ma­tion from cer­tain licensed gun deal­ers that can help iden­ti­fy ille­gal gun traf­fick­ing oper­a­tions,” Par­sons said. “These let­ters pose a min­i­mal bur­den on gun deal­ers that is far out­weighed by the ben­e­fits this infor­ma­tion offers to law enforce­ment, and they should remain in force.”

Turk’s paper states that its pur­pose is “to pro­vide the new admin­is­tra­tion and the Bureau mul­ti­ple options to con­sid­er and dis­cuss regard­ing firearms reg­u­la­tions.”

These gen­er­al thoughts pro­vide poten­tial ways to reduce or mod­i­fy reg­u­la­tions, or sug­gest changes that pro­mote com­merce and defend the Sec­ond Amend­ment with­out sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive impact on ATF’s mis­sion to fight vio­lent firearms crime and reg­u­late the firearms indus­try,” the paper states.

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ER1C ☠

ER1C ☠

Dedicated Second Amendment Advocate, At-Home Gunsmith, Designer, Blogger, Video Guy, Author, Business Owner & ReloadOne Member.

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