Gun regulators have admitted to violating the Second Amendment
by Michael Hammond
| December 21, 2019 12:00 AM
On Dec. 11, Gun Owners of America argued before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that the government’s recently enacted ban on bump stocks is illegal.
The organization's argument is by no means controversial. The government bureau that made them illegal, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, even admitted in a court filing that it lacks authority under the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act to issue the rule. In short, it violated the Second Amendment as a way of reaping more power for itself, and that should not be tolerated.
The GOA can and will continue fighting the illicit actions of gun regulators as they arise in court, and they will be penalized; however, this piecemeal approach can only go so far. It is high time for Second Amendment advocates in Congress and the White House to begin taking action to reform the rogue bureau.
After all, this isn’t the first time the ATF has disregarded the law. Just recently, a federal judge similarly found the bureau to have been enforcing laws that don’t exist against gun owners. The bureau has been pretending that receivers are bound by the same draconian D.C. regulations as entire put-together firearms and have been threatening their manufacturers with prosecution for not going through the full regulatory process.
The methods the bureau has used to generate firearm cases against the American people have always been questionable. In the 1970s and 1980s, Congress studied the issue closely, with a Senate subcommittee report ultimately concluding that “it is apparent that ATF enforcement tactics made possible by current federal firearms laws are constitutionally, legally, and practically reprehensible."
Its cousin organization, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is no better. The tax bureau used to be a part of the ATF, but in 2002, the Homeland Security Act divided the organization into two. The tax bureau’s half is now responsible for tax collection, labeling regulations, and trade oversight, and it remains just as reckless as the ATF.
The tax bureau pointedly refuses to provide clarity to its obscure, complex mandates. As former Treasurer Bay Buchanan pointed out, “Ever since its foundation, TTB has seemingly gone out of its way to ensure that firearms and ammo merchants remain out of compliance with the law.”
Like the ATF, the tax bureau also has no problem violating the law. For example, it recently proposed Notice No. 176, a rule that it alleges will "eliminate unnecessary regulatory requirements and provide consumers broader purchasing options." Over a dozen conservative organizations have called out the illegality of this proposed rule, which they say will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. In a letter to the administration, they said it violates President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, which calls for the elimination of two regulations for every new one proposed, as well as Executive Order 12866 from the Clinton years, which mandates the Office of Management and Budget review any regulatory action that will cost the economy $100 million or more.
Unelected government bureaucrats should not be allowed to continue increasing the size of the regulatory state and infringing on the people’s Second Amendment rights, not when Republicans control the Senate and the White House.
With the ATF’s abuses are still being reported in the news and are fresh on the public’s mind, now is the time for the Senate to begin holding hearings and getting to the bottom of the exploitation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee should call in ATF head Regina Lombardo to discuss the bureau's legal violations and what steps, if any, are being taken to correct them.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy’s Senate appropriations subcommittee should call the tax bureau’s leaders, Mary J. Ryan and Daniel Riordan, in to see if they accept the deregulatory and transparency orders currently on the books and what action, if any, they are taking to ensure compliance.
If the ATF's or the tax bureau's leaders refuse to come before Congress or give lackluster answers to congressional questioning, the Trump administration can and should replace both. As luck would have it, Lombardo, Ryan, and Riordan are only serving in acting roles, so the White House has every right to replace them with permanent leadership officials at any time. In the case of the tax bureau, this would not even require Senate confirmation.
Gun Owners of America will continue to monitor the behavior of both bureaus and fight their illegal activity in court, but substantive change will never occur if we do not receive a helping hand from our friends in Congress and the White House.