Bi-partisan legislation to prohibit the federal government from requiring Americans to disclose their race or ethnicity in connection with the purchase of a firearm has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in response to changes quietly implemented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).
Senate sponsors of The Freedom From Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates Act (FIREARM Act) were Sen. Mike Enzi, (R-WY), Roy Blunt, (R- MO) Joe Manchin (D-WV). On the House side, the measure was introduced in late April and sponsored by U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Ted Poe (R-TX).
In 2014, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) amended its Form 4473 to require firearm purchasers to disclose both their race and ethnicity. Failure to answer these questions is considered an ATF violation and gun retailers could be put out of business for repeated offenses.
The ATF justified the change in requirement based on a “race and ethnicity standard” devised by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) almost 20 years ago. However, as even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) observed, “There is nothing [in ATF or OMB’s website links addressing the change in policy] that supports the requirement that ATF collect race-based information. The OMB guidance merely describes what categories of race should look like if information is collected.”
The FIREARM Act is supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“The right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms is an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that has nothing to do with race or ethnicity,” said Sen. Blunt said in a press release this week.
Rep. Poe accused the Administration and BATFE of implementing the new requirement to make it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to possess firearms.
“Forcing citizens who are lawfully purchasing guns to disclose race and ethnicity with the threat of federal prosecution if they fail to disclose is completely unnecessary,” Poe said. “Bottom line, if a law-abiding citizen is lawfully purchasing firearms, race and ethnicity are irrelevant. It is time to stop punishing those who are following the law.”