Sen. Joni Ernst’ ‘Firearm’ Act Would Create A Safe Harbor For Gun Dealers


U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wants to take guns away from the IRS. (Official photo)

NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, welcomes the introduction of S. 3812, the Fighting Irrational Regulatory Enforcement to Avert Retailers’ Misfortune (FIREARM) Act, by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). Companion legislation, H.R. 7471 under the same name, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). The “FIREARM” Act would create a safe harbor for federal firearm licensees (FFLs) who are at risk of losing their licenses and livelihoods due to the Biden administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that has weaponized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to revoke licenses for minor unintentional clerical errors and mistakes.

“Senator Joni Ernst’s ‘FIREARM’ Act will help restore confidence that ATF will fulfill its mission as a regulatory agency over the manufacture and sale of firearms rather than being used as a political tool by special interests,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President & General Counsel.

“Under the Biden administration, the firearm and ammunition industry has seen the ATF turned into a sledgehammer to carry out this administration’s extreme antigun policies. This damages the cooperative relationships between firearm retailers, who are on the frontline preventing illegal straw purchases of firearms, and the ATF, who enforces laws to safeguard our communities. NSSF is thankful for Senator Ernst’s leadership to provide remedies that repair this necessary public trust in our federal agencies.”

Specifically, the “FIREARM” Act:

  • Creates a safe harbor for FFLs to self-report violations, so they can correct any accidental errors;
  • Requires the ATF to work collaboratively with FFLs to fix violations and help avoid future violations;
  • Addresses the “willfulness” issue by defining it to mean a voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty achieved through specific intent or deliberate planning, excludes previous conduct and creates a rebuttal if the conduct is not willful; and
  • Allows for direct judicial review of license revocations to avoid the ATF from serving as the prosecutor, judge and jury.

President Joe Biden instituted the ATF’s “zero-tolerance” policy that puts firearm businesses at risk of losing their licenses and livelihoods for minor clerical errors that were previously corrected by ATF inspectors to assist those businesses to stay compliant and within the laws and regulations governing the firearm industry.

The ATF revoked 157 licenses of FFLs in 2023, and an additional 80 firearm retailers chose to voluntarily surrender their license rather than endure the costly and painstaking process of clearing a business’s name, a pace for both of which has increased each year of this administration.

Since taking office, President Biden directed the ATF to revoke the licenses of firearm businesses for these minor clerical errors by classifying them as “willful” violations. That’s a sharp break from previous White House administrations. The Biden administration is now employing a “whole-of-government” attack on the firearm industry and Second Amendment rights of lawful and Constitutionally-protected businesses and law-abiding gun owners.

About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit

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