- The Biden administration is cracking down on gun store owners who violate its “zero-tolerance” policies.
- Over 120 gun store owners had their licenses revoked since October of last year – a 350% increase from 2021, according to the New York Post.
- The crackdowns are “a blatant violation of the Second Amendment,” according to activists and experts who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Biden administration’s escalating crackdowns on gun store owners and firearms dealers is “a blatant violation of the Second Amendment,” according to gun activists and experts who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In an increasing effort to enforce “zero tolerance” policies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) revoked more than 120 licenses from gun dealers since October last year for legal violations, according to Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. A number of dealers have reported they were shut down by the ATF over minor paperwork errors, highlighting a clear attempt by the Biden administration to “criminalize law-abiding gun owners and sellers,” according to gun activists who spoke to the DCNF.
“The Biden administration has failed in pushing its gun control agenda through Congress, so they will try everything they can to make it harder for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Chris Cox, former field general for the gun rights movement and president of Capitol 6 Advisors, told the DCNF. “Joe Biden himself has been for gun control for decades and I think this effort is being driven directly from the top… their real intent is to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to buy and own guns. That’s the threat to the Second Amendment.”
The ATF revoked 122 licenses from gun store owners since October of last year, up from 27 in 2021 – representing a 350% increase in license revocations, the New York Post reported. No more than 81 licenses were revoked during the Trump and Obama administrations, according to the WSJ.
“We’ve taken steps to hold accountable those few dealers who are engaging in these willful violations,” ATF Director Steve Dettelbach said, according to the WSJ. “They’re not going to have the privilege of being a gun dealer anymore.”
“We should call this new policy what it is – a blatant violation of the Second Amendment by the Biden Administration in another attempt to criminalize law-abiding gun owners and sellers,” Katie Pointer Baney, managing director of government affairs for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), said to the DCNF.
The ATF had previously issued warnings to gun dealers for minor violations as opposed to shutting them down outright, as they were a useful source for tips and information on suspicious gun buyers, according to Cox, and Amy Swearer, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
“In recent decades, ATF’s official policy has involved a much lighter touch and a general view that the agency is a partner with Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) —they’re working toward the same goal of keeping guns inside the stream of lawful commerce and out of the hands of prohibited persons,” Swearer told the DCNF. “Generally speaking, most violations—especially first-time violations and clerical errors that didn’t result in direct harm—were dealt with through an escalating process of warning letters and warning conferences with a goal of bringing the FFL into compliance.”
“This new policy ignores the fact that firearms dealers are the ATF’s first line of defense against gun trafficking,” Cox agreed. “By doing this, ATF is attacking the very folks who help them combat gun traffickers. They should view firearms dealers as allies, not enemies.”
The ATF’s increasing “zero tolerance” policy is directed at gun dealers who make “willful violations” of the law, including failing to run background checks, falsifying records, failing to cooperate with ATF investigations and tracing requests or transferal of a firearm to a prohibited person, according to a document obtained by Fox News in February.
But a number of gun store owners report they were shut down by the ATF over minor paperwork errors, the WSJ reported. One owner, Anthony Navarro, said his Colorado shop was shut down by the ATF after he failed to keep record of a small number of transactions – a fact that Navarro previously reported to the ATF after discovering an ex-employee was responsible.
“We were making $1 million a year, now it’s less than $100,000,” Navarro said, according to the WSJ. “This policy is designed to be a backdoor violation of the Second Amendment.”
Swearer agreed, and noted that the ATF’s enhanced crackdowns are a scare tactic to keep gun store owners from ever operating their businesses.
“This policy is clearly designed to put the screws to the lawful gun industry in such a way that people are scared to operate gun businesses, because they risk losing everything over clerical errors. The goal is to shrink—kneecap, really—an industry that is otherwise thriving,” Swearer said.
The ATF is also trying to suspend the license of Morehouse Enterprise, a gun store in North Dakota, after finding five violations outlined in their zero-tolerance policy out of 5,000 total gun acquisitions, according to Fox News. The Gun Owners of America (GOA), a second amendment advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in July on Morehouse’s behalf.
“This zero-tolerance policy is sadly just one of several examples under Joe Biden’s ATF to reverse longstanding policy in an effort to restrict gun ownership,” Aidan Johnston, Director of Federal Affairs at GOA, told the DCNF. “GOA is actively pushing back, both in the halls of Congress and in the Courts.”
Swearer mused that the endgame of the ATF’s escalating crackdowns on gun store owners is part of a larger Biden administration plan to make it so difficult for the gun industry to thrive in the U.S. that most people will choose not to buy them and most businesses will choose not to sell them.
“This just plays right into longstanding fears from gun owners that the government really doesn’t care about going after criminals as much as it cares about demonizing any gun owner,” Swearer said. [They’re] going to make it so incredibly complicated to get a gun and make every little nitpicky thing a felony offense, that why would anyone want to exercise that right?
“It’s now the same approach, but with the industry instead of the individual—we’ll give you 300 pages of complicated regulations and destroy you the second you make one misstep,” Swearer said. “None of this helps the public’s perception of ATF.”
The ATF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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