by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A bill circulating through Congress would stop the Biden administration from stockpiling records on American gun owners by altering federal law to allow firearm dealers to destroy sales records.
The bill, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, is a response to the Free Beacon’s January report detailing how the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has amassed nearly one billion records detailing American citizens’ firearm purchases, a figure that is far higher than Congress and the public has been aware of.
Rep. Michael Cloud (R., Texas), a chief critic of the ATF’s gun database, is spearheading the legislation, which is likely to garner support from a wide range of Republican lawmakers but few Democrats in the House. The bill, dubbed the No REGISTRY Rights Act, would require the ATF to delete all existing records detailing American firearm sales. The ATF has been collecting this data for years, even though U.S. law prohibits the government from keeping a federal database on gun owners.
Cloud’s bill is a direct response to the Biden administration’s proposed plan to mandate that firearm dealers keep their records in perpetuity and provide them to the federal government. The bill would not only force the ATF to delete all of its existing firearm transactions records, but also allow licensed gun dealers to destroy their records when they go out of business, effectively stopping the federal government from adding to its database—which critics like Cloud and gun rights advocates have long seen as a blatant bid to track American gun owners in violation of the law.
The bill has 40 cosponsors, with more expected in the coming days.