A gun-rights group is alleging in a new lawsuit filed last week that the Biden administration is blatantly violating a 54-year-old firearms law to unfairly target gun dealers and strip them of their licenses.
Last year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began revoking licenses of gun dealers over firearm transaction paperwork mistakes though the law clearly stipulates that those mistakes are violations only if they are “willful” — or intentional — in nature. Plaintiffs Michael Cargill and his company, Central Texas Gun Works, are also arguing the case on behalf of their customers.
“This new ATF policy is simply an instrument of Biden’s anti-gun agenda, in clear violation of federal law, demonstrated by the over 500% increase in license revocations since he took office.” https://t.co/xPLF8xwuLe
— Texas Public Policy Foundation (@TPPF) October 20, 2022
“The Biden administration’s new policy is simply unlawful under the very statute that it purports to enforce. The law only allows revocations for ‘willful’ violations; that doesn’t include inadvertent clerical mistakes,” said Matt Miller, senior attorney for TPPF’s Center for the American Future.
“Businesses that commit clerical mistakes are not ‘rogue firearm dealers.’ This new ATF policy is simply an instrument of Biden’s anti-gun agenda, in clear violation of federal law, demonstrated by the over 500% increase in license revocations since he took office,” he added in a statement.
“The ATF administers and regulates federal firearms licenses (“FFLs”), which grant the holder the right to sell firearms. For decades, the relationship between the ATF and licensees was generally collaborative. The ATF would inspect licensees for compliance with the Act and educate licensees who made inadvertent mistakes with the goal of improving compliance,” the complaint states.
“This helped licensees assist law enforcement efforts, prevent the diversion of firearms from lawful commerce, ensure successful tracing of firearms, and protect the public. Revocation of an FFL was an exceedingly rare action by the ATF and reserved only for the worst actors. For example, in 2013, the ATF only sought revocation of FFLs in 81 out of over 10,500 inspections,” the complaint continues.
“But everything changed in the summer of 2021, when the Biden Administration announced a new policy to enforce the Act against licensees who inadvertently fail to comply,” it continues. “As part of this effort, the Acting Assistant Director of the ATF George Lauder issued a memorandum instructing ATF Special Agents in Charge and Directors of Industry Operations to revoke FFLs for a single violation in many circumstances. Since then, revocations have increased over 500%, as the ATF has effectively written the word ‘willful’ out of the statute by instituting a policy of revoking FFLs for inadvertent paperwork errors.”
The complaint further argues: “This new definition of ‘willful’ violates the plain language of the governing statute and puts all law-abiding licensees at risk of revocation for minor and inconsequential paperwork errors that do not pose a threat to public safety, nor result in prohibited possessors obtaining firearms.”
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Miller clarified: “In most of these instances, these are not people who transferred a gun to a prohibited purchaser. In other words, they didn’t give a gun to a criminal, or to a kid. They just committed simple paperwork violations, and the administration is now using that to revoke these licenses.”