Baucus, Tester fight for transparency, 2nd Amendment rights
Senators Urge Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to Stop Unnecessary Reporting Rules
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today pushed the nation’s top firearms administrator to halt a plan to enact unnecessary gun reporting requirements. In a letter to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson, Baucus and Tester issued a stern warning against “bypassing the transparent legislative process” to encroach upon Second Amendment rights.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has proposed that it be given emergency authority for six months, beginning January 5th, 2011, to require firearms dealers along the border with Mexico to submit to additional reporting requirements. In today’s letter, Baucus and Tester point out that the Bureau currently has the authority to ensure that only law-abiding citizens can purchase guns and any additional authority should not be given to the federal agency without an open debate, through Congress.
“I strongly oppose any unnecessary reporting requirements for gun owners. Folks should not have to deal with more paperwork at the hands of federal bureaucrats operating behind closed doors,” said Baucus. “This proposed rule erodes the spirit of the Second Amendment and forces gun dealers to pick up the tab for the extra paperwork. I’m fighting to make sure this discussion is happening openly in Congress and not behind the cloak of agency bureaucrats.”
“The Second Amendment is a pretty straightforward right, and I’m going to sound an alarm anytime the government tries to complicate it with more paperwork,” said Tester, the incoming chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “One size fits all regulations aren't the answer to crime south of the border. Law-abiding Americans don’t need unnecessary paperwork getting in the way of our Constitutional rights.”
In their letter to Melson, Baucus and Tester explain, “The Bureau should focus on enforcing existing laws rather than implementing additional regulations on law-abiding citizens. There are many commonsense ways to curb violence which have not infringed upon the rights of the American people to keep and bear arms.”
Text of Baucus-Tester letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms:
December 23, 2010
Mr. Kenneth E. Melson
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Avenue, NE
Room 5S 144
Washington, D.C. 20226
Dear Acting Director Melson:
We understand the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) proposes to expand existing reporting requirements for gun dealers through the regulatory process. First, we strongly oppose further expansion of these unnecessarily burdensome reporting requirements. Furthermore, any proposed expansion to existing authority should be debated in a transparent manner by the Congress, rather than through the rule-making process.
The Bureau should focus on enforcing existing laws rather than implementing additional regulations on law-abiding citizens. There are many commonsense ways to curb violence which have not infringed upon the rights of the American people to keep and bear arms.
As you know, BATFE currently has authority to require dealers to report multiple handgun purchases within a five-day period. This statutory authority is found in Title 18, section 923(g). Additionally, gun dealers are presently required to run all purchases through the NICS process, ensuring that only law-abiding citizens can purchase guns. Any consideration of further expansion of such authority must be done by Congress through the transparent legislative process, not by agency bureaucrats through the regulatory rule-making process. In fact, in response to Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s recent review of “Project Gunrunner”, you note that proposals to expand multiple sales rules may be “beyond ATF’s and the Department [of Justice]’s authority.”
The situation along the United States-Mexico border is very serious and requires our full attention. We appreciate your efforts in addressing the violence, but our priority must be securing the border, not adding burdensome and needless regulations onto law-abiding American citizens.
Again, we urge the BATFE to refrain from implementing these unnecessary one-size-fits-all regulations and bypassing the transparent legislative process. The border situation requires serious deliberative review, but using the regulatory rule-making process at the expense of law-abiding American citizens is not the right way forward.