Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Remove Race, Ethnicity Disclosure on ATF Forms

   09.22.14

Last week US Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced legislation to prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from requiring the disclosure of race and ethnicity on forms related to the purchase of firearms. The bill, Freedom From Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates (FIREARM), will prevent what Congresswoman Diane Black called a “highly intrusive and unnecessary” requirement that served no purpose other than to cause stress to gun owners.

“Failing to adhere to this requirement by not checking all of the correct boxes on the 4473 Form is considered an ATF violation that can be so severe as to result in the gun dealer being shut down for having incomplete purchaser forms,” Black explained in a press release. “This is causing a headache for many firearms retailers and this commonsense legislation would simply stop the federal government from requiring businesses and consumers to comply with this ‘race and ethnicity standard.'”

The bill was introduced after an article was published in the The Washington Times detailing the 2012 amendment to ATF Form 4473—the form that gun buyers are obliged to fill out when purchasing a firearm. The new section on the form required gun buyers to disclose their race—Asian, black, Native American, Pacific Islander, or white. The purchaser would then designate themselves as either Hispanic, Latino, or neither.

“Washington bureaucrats have no business requiring citizens who are lawfully purchasing firearms to disclose their race or ethnicity,” said Congressman Poe. “Under this rule, both gun dealers and purchasers face the threat of federal prosecution for not disclosing race or ethnicity on a form. This is an intrusive and unnecessary requirement. As long as the gun is purchased lawfully, race or ethnicity should be irrelevant.”

The 2012 changes to the forms were noticed by gun buyers, but were otherwise considered a relatively mundane amendment by the ATF. According to the The Washington Times, the agency said the changes were part of the process of upgrading its forms to meet standards set by the Office of Management and Budget. Since those standards were set about two decades ago, Black and Poe are questioning why the ATF decided to update the forms in 2012. US Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) also chimed in on the issue by writing a letter to the ATF.

“The right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms is an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Blunt wrote. “The constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It is disconcerting that the U.S. government is gathering this type of data on citizens when there is no connection between purchasing a firearm and an individual’s race or ethnicity. Any measure that may interfere with a citizen’s ability to exercise his or her constitutional right to purchase a firearm needs to be questioned.”

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