The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Reining in the ATF for American gun owners

A recently revealed chain of “rogue” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sting operations have led to the exposure of many concerns about the agency’s intentions and doubts about their integrity. Investigators uncovered the use of deplorable tactics, including the exploitation of the mentally disabled to boost arrest numbers. It’s hardly been three years since the Fast and Furious scandal broke, and ATF has given the American people yet another glimpse into their true role in President Obama’s anti-gun agenda. Disturbingly, however, these mob-style tactics are just the tip of the iceberg.

The frenzy surrounding the sting operations have captured the attention and alarmed the American public. Equally as troubling though, are the lesser known institutional policies that place unchecked limits on gun rights by targeting the firearms industry with unreasonable reporting requirements, bureaucratic stonewalling, and ever-increasing piles of red-tape. In many cases, law-abiding manufacturers could face the added pressure of fines, license revocation, and even jail time as punishment for routine clerical errors.

These “gotcha” tactics are nothing more than an outright attack on the Second Amendment.

This attempt by the Obama Administration to drive up costs throughout the gun industry will ultimately force many independent and family-owned small firearms businesses – which operate between tighter margins – to close.

Executive overreach like this has made it clear that President Obama sees his agencies as a means to dictate his agenda without congressional approval, but the ATF was calling their own shots long before he was on the scene.

In spite of Congress’ explicit intent for the agency to operate within Second Amendment boundaries, it has taken extreme liberties in unilaterally redefining and inflating the government’s role in the gun industry.

For instance, the ATF weapon testing and review process is particularly bothersome. During this case-by-case examination, manufacturers submit their new products for approval through a system that’s invisible to the public eye and routinely disregards the rule of law.

Georgia gun manufacturer Len Savage learned about the ATF’s schemes first-hand. Nine months after ATF approved his new model for sale and distribution, it sent notice that the decision had been reversed.

The flip-flop cost more than half a million dollars in dropped orders and thousands more in manufactured parts. Savage remarked that it’s common in the firearms business for the agency to “change their mind on a whim,” and called it, “enforcement by ambush.”

To justify the process, ATF claims the freedom to interpret statutory definitions as they see fit.

But considering that some determinations have stretched the legal definition of a “machine gun” to include toy guns and aftermarket shoestrings, it’s audacious that agency bureaucrats exercise this sweeping authority to abuse manufacturers.

In order to restore accountability and install a much-needed sense of oversight and congruity at the ATF, I’ve introduced the Fairness in Firearms Testing Act. This legislation will require ATF to make video recordings of each firearms test and make the footage public to manufacturers. Perhaps most importantly, it will clarify for gun manufacturers the guidelines by which they are evaluated.

We must reign in renegade agencies like the ATF, and put a stop to President Obama’s radical oppression of gun owners. Their initiatives are based on false information, unproven theories, and a complete lack of understanding for firearm ownership.

Safeguarding our Second Amendment rights is of paramount importance, and throughout my tenure in Congress, I have worked – and will continue working – to preserve those rights. Rest assured that I take this responsibility very seriously, and will continue to fight for legislation that enforces a law-abiding citizen’s ability to protect themselves, their families, and respond to public threats.

Congressman Phil Gingrey M.D., is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 11th congressional district.