Face the Nation Airs ATF Propaganda


Opinion

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Those worried that Biden’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was so busy harassing well-meaning gun dealers and owners that it had forgotten about its biennial tradition can rest easy. Last week, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach renewed the agency’s time-honored practice of whining to regime media about the plight of the revenue man.

This time, Dettelbach sat down for a lengthy interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan for Face the Nation. Brennan was also treated to a dubious lesson in firearm operation and handling from Dettelbach and Chris Bort, the acting chief of ATF’s Firearm and Ammunition Technology Division. Face the Nation made the full versions of these videos available on YouTube.

As always, a key complaint from ATF was how the agency’s National Tracing Center is required to operate within the law.

The structure and explicit language of federal law act to prevent the creation of a federal firearms registry. Federal law requires those who purchase a firearm at a gun dealer to fill out a form 4473. This record of the firearm transfer is then stored by the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL or gun dealer) on their premises. This creates a system whereby if a gun is found at a crime scene ATF can trace the firearm to the last retail purchase. However, since the records are stored with each FFL, the system is decentralized in a manner that protects against government abuse of gun owner data.

This understanding was at the heart of the debate over the Gun Control Act of 1968. In 1985, Sen. James McClure (R-Idaho) explained, “The central compromise of the Gun Control Act of 1968—the sine qua non for the entry of the Federal Government into any form of firearms regulation was this: Records concerning gun ownership would be maintained by dealers, not by the Federal Government and not by State and local governments.”

This is all very cumbersome to Dettelbach.

Brennan asked Biden’s ATF director, “The ATF is prohibited by law from creating a centralized database of registered gun owners. So that means there are actual physical records that have to be sorted through, right? How big of an impediment is that to actually stopping gun traffickers?”

Appearing to lament the current protections for law-abiding gun owners, Dettelbach responded in part,

The way it doesn’t happen is we punch in a person’s name. And up comes oh, they own so many guns. Congress has prohibited us from doing that. So instead, we have a system of records where we can- we have to go through those records. Every year, we probably get in- First of all, we don’t have the all the records, the gun dealers keep the records, most of them. If they go out of business, they send them to us, millions and millions a month. And we have to keep them in- I- I’m the only customer, ATF is of Adobe Acrobat, we pay somebody to take out search function, to remove search function that other customers have to in order to comply with the congressional notion that there can’t be a gun registry, the law that there can’t be a gun registry in the United States. It’s not a notion, it’s a law, and we comply with it. That- that means that we have to work within that system. That means we have more people there pouring through records.

Addressing the recent U.S. Supreme Court arguments on whether ATF has the authority to regulate bump stocks, Brennan asked why Congress and the Biden administration didn’t act to prohibit the items. Brennan said, “But why didn’t the Biden administration seek to put into the law, you work for the Biden administration, so why didn’t the Biden administration seek to do that?”

Soon after, Dettelbach appeared as if he was trying to conflate the bump stock controversy with ATF’s ability to regulate actual machine guns. Referring to a green auto sear he was using as a prop, Dettelbach stated,

we have a broader issue, right, with- with machine guns in this country that I will tell you is returning. You asked me about things that I think are really concerning for public safety. It’s not just bump stocks, right? All over the streets of the United States, every police chief tells me that the pounding sort of jackhammer-like sound of machine-gun fire is returning to our streets, and bump stocks is one, I’ll show you another, right. So this little piece of plastic, this little piece of plastic… So this case is before the Supreme Court. You know, it’s pending, so I don’t know how much I can talk about it. But the issue of bump- is more than bump stocks.

No one contests ATF’s statutory authority to regulate auto sears. Federal law, 26 USC § 5845(b), defines a “machinegun” as follows:

any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

Auto sears are designed and intended to convert a firearm to shoot automatically “by a single function of the trigger.” Conversely, bump stocks are designed to facilitate the user’s ability to repeatedly operate the trigger.

To her credit, Brennan eventually sought to clarify just what Dettelbach was talking about, asking, “The little green knub. Is that illegal?,” to which Dettelbach acknowledged, “Yes.” Further pressing the director, Brennan asked, “Do you need Congress to write a law specific to these innovations?” Dettelbach again acknowledged “To that one? No.”

As long as Dettelbach is conceding that federal law enforcement already has the power to prosecute those who possess and use unregistered auto sears, he should work to ensure Biden’s U.S. Attorneys are aware of this fact.

Brennan also pushed back slightly when Dettelbach claimed, “The leading cause of death of children in the United States is firearms violence.” This Biden administration talking point has been repeatedly debunked, even by the Washington Post. Brennan clarified, “This is kids and teenagers,” to which Dettelbach admitted, “right.”

During the show-and-tell portion there were moments sure to irk knowledgeable gun owners. Dettelbach described a 75-round AK drum magazine as a “75-round clip.” When discussing handguns equipped with illegal auto sears, Dettelbach used the term “kick-up” to describe the firearms’ recoil. Bort appeared to acknowledge that ATF’s tax stamp procedure functions as a “waiting period.”

Bort, the purported firearms expert, had an observably difficult time disassembling a Glock handgun. After failing to disassemble a first gun, Bort was able to disassemble a second. However, Bort then attempted to place the removed slide assembly onto a finished unserialized frame to no avail. Glock pistols are a standard ATF duty sidearm.

Dettelbach also criticized cash firearm purchases. The ATF director encouraged FFLs to notify ATF when individuals in border states use large amounts of cash for firearms purchases, noting that in those circumstances there would be “no credit card trail.”

Of course, the behavior of anti-gun groups and federal law enforcement has incentivized law-abiding gun owners who are justifiably concerned about their privacy to use cash for firearm purchases.

In September 2022, the left-wing Amalgamated Bank successfully petitioned the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to create a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearm retailers. MCCs enable payment processors and banks to categorize, monitor, and collect data on various types of transactions. At the time, Amalgamated Bank noted that they intended to create a software algorithm that would use the MCC “to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities.” The contours of what would be deemed “suspicious activity” were not articulated. As those purchasing firearms from retail establishments already undergo an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check, such “suspicious activity” would be aimed at otherwise lawful gun sales.

Since then, NRA-ILA has successfully urged a growing number of states to enact laws restricting the use of the firearm retailer MCC. In March 2023, Visa and Mastercard paused implementation of the controversial code.

Further, Bank of America was recently the subject of a U.S. House of Representatives investigation for allegedly turning over customer credit and debit card information to federal law enforcement related to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020. In a May 25, 2023 letter to Bank of America’s CEO, Representatives Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) demanded information from the financial institution about its alleged sharing of firearm purchase data with federal law enforcement. Citing whistleblower testimony, the letter stated, “BoA specifically provided information about Americans who exercised their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm.”

Biennial regime press ATF pity parties are probably more than enough for the average media consumer. However, gun owners should prepare themselves for more federal grousing. Depending on how a host of high-profile ongoing litigation comes out, ATF could have a whole lot more to cry about.


About NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess, and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)


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