For years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have held onto some antiquated gun laws. Some were, at their inception, politically motivated. Now the number two man in charge has written a proposal to reduce gun regulations.
While the move may come as a surprise to some, and as a disappointment to some Democrats who are hoping to at least maintain the status quo, all of the points in the new proposal are backed up with evidence to justify the changes.
The 11-page “white paper” [titled “Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations,”] 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.
Fans of the Second Amendment (and opponents of restrictive ATF regulations) have been optimistically watching the ground-swell of support for The Hearing Protection Act, which could remove suppressors from morass of legal restrictions governing their purchase and ownership now. This new white paper simply adds fuel to that fire.
“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.”
The second point is more complicated, and has to do with free-market fairness. Gun store owners and FFL holders are not responsible for the actions of gun owners any more than a hardware store owner is responsible for what a customer does with a hammer bought in his or her store. Yet the controversial nature of all-things-gun-related has put an often unfair burden on store owners to defend selling guns to customers who can buy them legally. The white paper suggests a more realistic approach for holding dealers accountable.
The last is a big one for collectors and sportsmen, alike. The bans on importation of certain guns makes no sense. Some are deemed “assault weapons.” Some of those same assault weapons are available here in the states, and used for defense and hunting and other sporting activities that don’t involve assault. Why would a gun you could buy legally here in the U.S., which is made here in the U.S., be unavailable to import? The question becomes even more absurd when you consider many of these guns are military antiques that were made in the U.S., but left in conflict zones more than half a centruy ago–like the beloved M1 Carbine, a favorite of military collectors.
“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.
“Those firearm types are now standard for hunting activities. These restrictions have placed many limitations on importers, while at the same time imposing a heavy workload [on those responsible for certifying importation].”
While many are applauding the white-paper, it has its detractors. “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,” Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at the Center for American Progress, told WAPO.
“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.