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Risch Leads Bill to Protect Law-Abiding Gun Owners and Hold ATF Accountable

Office of U.S. Senator James E. Risch

Legislation would Improve ATF Review Fairness, Speed, and Transparency

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WASHINGTON— U.S Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) with Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.) today introduced legislation to enhance review fairness, speed, and transparency for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) background check and application processes for National Firearms Act (NFA) items. The ATF Transparency Act will ensure law-abiding gun owners experience a fair and speedy application process when exercising their Second Amendment rights.

“The ATF’s huge backlog of applications is triggered by a burdensome, seemingly endless process that fails to allow citizens access to an appeals process in the event of a wrongful denial. The result: law-abiding Americans are prevented from exercising their Second Amendment rights,” said Risch. “As the Biden administration continues to create more and more hurdles for law-abiding gun owners, it is more than fair to demand the ATF stick to a strict timeline for reviewing applications and create an appeals process for rejected applicants. With the ATF Transparency Act, the ATF would be held to a higher standard that would require a faster, fairer process for firearm applications.”

“Lawful gun owners should not be denied their constitutional right to own a firearm because of unchecked bureaucratic rulings,” Crapo said. “This legislation creates a transparent review and appeals process for those who have been improperly flagged by the ATF, giving these individuals the due process they rightly deserve.”

“A case of mistaken identity or incorrect processing of paperwork should not be the end of the road for a law-abiding citizen trying to purchase a firearm. Gun owners in Wyoming who follow the law should have recourse in the event of a denial by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives. Thank you to Senator Risch for introducing the ATF Transparency Act to protect our Second Amendment rights,” said Lummis.

“Law-abiding citizens wrongly denied their rights by this biased ATF during a background check deserve a chance to make their case through an efficient appeals process. With no limits to this administration’s anti-Second Amendment agenda, we must do everything in our power to hold the ATF accountable and make the system fair and transparent. I’m pleased to join Sen. Risch in introducing this important legislation that will do just that,” said Marshall.

The ATF Transparency Act has received support from Gun Owners of America and National Rifle Association.

“Gun Owners of America is proud to endorse Sen. Risch’s legislation to eliminate ATF’s bureaucratic loopholes in the already unconstitutional National Firearms Act. ATF has deceived Congress and the American public with inaccurate NFA approval estimates for far too long. It shouldn’t take a bureaucrat any longer than 90 days to process paperwork, and ATF certainly shouldn’t be denying approval to make or transfer a firearm on day 88 just to skirt that deadline because they didn’t finish a background check on time,” said Aidan Johnston, Director of Federal Affairs, Gun Owners of America.

“The ATF Transparency Act is a crucial piece of legislation that will allow individuals the opportunity to appeal their denied application of National Firearms Act items. The ambiguity of denials is an issue that must be resolved and the NRA thanks and applauds Sen. Risch for standing up for all Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” said Brian Calabrese, Managing Director of Federal Affairs for NRA-ILA.

The ATF Transparency Act would:

  • Require the ATF to develop an appeals process to protect law-abiding Americans’ background checks from being wrongfully denied;
  • Require the ATF to process applications within 90 days. If the ATF fails to process the applications after 90 days, applications will be automatically approved; and
  • Require reports by the GAO and DOJ on 1) the number of NFA items involved in unresolved background checks from 2014 to 2021 and outline recommendations to minimize unresolved background checks and 2) the extent of FBI involvement in background checks and require the ATF and FBI develop a joint agreement on the background check process.
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