In a letter sent today, Alaskan Congressman Don Young called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to explain why its agents have been visiting Alaskan gun dealers and asking for copies of their gun sale records (bound books and 4473 forms). While BATFE agents are permitted to conduct routine compliance inspections, federal law strictly forbids the removal or copying of a Federal Firearms Licensee's (FFLs) records.
"Despite what the law clearly states, I've heard from several Alaska gun shop owners who are being hassled by the ATF," said Rep. Young. "As I have told the gun shop owners, the ATF has no right to either copy or remove their records and if any attempt is made, they should refuse it."
Over the past 30 years, Congress has consistently passed legislation prohibiting the collection of information from gun dealers that would go towards the creation of a list/database of gun owners. In 2011, that prohibition was made permanent.
"The ATF has some serious explaining to do," Rep. Young continued. "Congress has been unequivocal when it comes to gun registries or anything that resembles one -- they are against the law.
"I expect a full and complete response from the ATF in a timely fashion. In the time-being, I will continue do everything in my power to ensure Americans' Second Amendment rights are not trampled on."
Some of the questions Rep. Young wants answered are:
Are Investigators encouraged to ask for records in spite of the law in the hopes FFLs will simply comply?
Are Investigators specifically trained to understand that copying of and/or compiling the information from these records violates the law?
Are Investigators trained to inform FFLs that it is fully within their rights to refuse to allow any records to be removed or copied without the proper warrants or as part of a criminal investigation?
Has any information from FFL records be collected and kept by BATFE personnel?