Congressman Mark Green penned a letter this week to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) expressing concerns over the bureau’s increased targeting of federal firearms licensees (FFL).
In a letter addressed to ATF Director Steven M. Dettelbach, Congressman Mark Green expressed concern, along with the concerns of constituents in Tennessee, that the ATF and the Biden administration are abusing the limited authority Congress granted them by limiting adverse license action to only instances of “willful” violations.
In his letter, Congressman Green notes that ever since Congress granted the ATF those powers, many FFLs have reported that revocation proceedings have been initiated at a rapid pace for minor, unintentional infractions that were unintentional and generally involved technical or clerical mistakes.
As a result, Congressman Green believes that the ATF is redefining the word “willful” to take down more FFLs, as noted by the Tennessee Firearms Association.
Green’s letter states, “In essence, it now appears that the Congressional requirement of a “willful violation” has been twisted into “negligence” or even mere human errors – a major distinction that ignores the plain language and intent of the law that Congress has enacted and that the ATF is bound to follow. Congress had no intent to authorize the ATF to strangle the chain of distribution through which citizens are generally expected to purchase firearms.”
He goes on to say, “In light of the clear purpose and meaning of the law, the ATF must respect the limitations that Congress has imposed on this process. The ATF needs to work with licensees to improve compliance practices instead of weaponizing the revocation authority. The laws are intended to ensure that the government can prosecute unscrupulous gun dealers who intentionally and willfully sell firearms to those who are not allowed to have them and refuse to cooperate with investigations of crimes, while protecting those FFLs who may inadvertently make minor paperwork errors but are fairly seeking to comply with federal firearm laws as enacted by Congress. It is not a matter left to the discretion of administrators or even the President – it is the clear statutory prescription of Congress.”
Congressman Green requested that the ATF provide him with a report by December 1, 2022, regarding the results of inspections and investigations targeting Tennessee FFLs since January 1, 2018.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Mark Green” by Mark Green.