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Lankford Stands Up to Inconsistent, Uncertain ATF Gun Classifications

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and their colleagues to introduced the ATF Accountability Act to provide transparency to gun owners across America on rules made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). 

Joining Lankford and Braun to introduce the bill were Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Rick Scott (R-FL).

“Oklahomans attempting to navigate the quagmire of federal regulations on firearm manufacturing are tired of getting uncertain and inconsistent decisions from the ATF because the Biden Administration does not want Americans to have guns,” said Lankford. “ATF needs to have clear guidance on firearm classifications so manufacturers and purchasers have the information they need, when they need it. Our bill holds the ATF accountable for their unclear and inconsistent rulemakings and ensures we can bring transparency to the process.”

“American gun owners and manufacturers have been left in the dark for far too long with closed-door rule changes by the ATF. Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights shouldn’t be the last to know the classification status of firearms, or what licenses or tax stamps they need to avoid running afoul of the law. The ATF needs accountability and transparency, which this bill accomplishes,” said Braun.

“Every day, people in Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. For far too long, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has had regulations that keep responsible gun owners and manufacturers in the dark. Any attempt to stop law-abiding citizens from appealing unfair rulings must be stopped dead in its tracks. I will continue to stand up against any policies that threaten our Second Amendment rights,” said Barrasso.

“Ensuring fair administrative procedures is vital for law-abiding gun owners. The Biden administration’s use of crushing regulatory tactics, like the ATF’s secretive classification process, has deprived citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms and created uncertainty for manufacturers. We need to ensure transparency within the ATF, promote timely access to classification decisions, and fix the absence of an appeal process for manufacturers facing classification errors,” said Cramer.

“Increasing transparent review and an appeals process for rulings and determinations made by the ATF would ensure that firearms manufacturers and lawful gun owners are not subject to unchecked bureaucratic rulings.  Burdening law-abiding citizens of this country with additional gun restrictions is not the answer to safeguarding the public,” said Crapo. 

“For too long unelected bureaucrats at the ATF in Washington, DC have been making decisions on the classification status of firearms behind closed doors. We need transparency and accountability at the ATF so law abiding Montana gun owners and gun manufacturers are never left in the dark,” said Daines.

“The ATF owes nothing less than transparency to law-abiding gun owners exercising their Second Amendment rights and all Americans in general. For the past few years, its secretive rule making processes and lack of accountability have threatened those constitutional rights. Our bill would work to level the playing field for American gun owners, dealers, and manufacturers affected by these unacceptable ATF rules and determinations,” said Hyde-Smith.

“Our legislation would better protect the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans from federal overreach and provide an important check on the ATF’s classification process,” said Hoeven.

“DC bureaucrats cannot be allowed to criminalize law-abiding gun owners with the stroke of a pen behind closed doors. Protecting the Second Amendment has never been more important after Senate Democrats attempted to jam through an assault-weapons ban just last week. The ATF Accountability Act strengthens the people of Wyoming’s constitutional right to bear arms by creating a pathway to legally challenge any new restrictive regulations,” said Lummis.

“Biden’s gun-grabbing ATF refuses to provide transparency on its secretive review process for firearms. This legislation is necessary to provide an appeals process for manufacturers and create transparency for law-abiding gun-owners to know the legal status of their firearms. I’m proud to join Senator Braun in bringing this issue to light and fighting for American gun owners and manufactures,” said Marshall.

“The ATF’s ability to designate firearms behind closed doors puts law abiding gun owners and firearms manufacturers in a difficult and sometimes impossible situation. The ATF Accountability Act will stop the agency’s secretive classification process, create accountability, and empower gun owners and manufacturers to appeal rulings,” said Risch.

“The Biden administration and the far-left continue to push overreaching policies that infringe on our rights by placing more and more regulations and red tape on American businesses that support the 2nd Amendment. I’m proud to join my colleagues to push back on these efforts and hold the administration accountable with our ATF Accountability Act,” said Scott.

Background

The ATF engages in a secretive classification review process where the agency makes decisions about whether a particular firearm is regulated by the National Firearms Act. Decisions and justification for decisions are often only made available to manufacturers in private correspondence. This causes a lot of uncertainty for both gun-owning Americans and firearm manufacturers, especially in combination with the ATF’s refusal to make final public rules regarding classification.

The ATF Accountability Act creates an appeals process following a ruling by ATF with specific regular timeframes and permits gun manufacturers to appeal the legal status or classification of any product by filing with the Director of Industry Operations with jurisdiction. After which, the appeal is directed to an administrative law judge

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