Republicans keep pressure on ATF as Senate bill aims to force agency to be transparent

EXCLUSIVE: Republicans are keeping up the pressure on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as a new Senate bill aims to force more transparency from the agency. Idaho Republican Senator James Risch introduced the ATF Transparency Act on Thursday, looking to improve the fairness of the ATF, increase agency transparency, and process applications quicker. “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,” Risch told Fox News Digital. GOP SENATOR’S BILL WOULD GIVE PRO-LIFE PREGNANCY CENTERS SECURITY UPGRADES AMID ATTACKS “The result: law-abiding Americans are prevented from exercising their Second Amendment rights,” Risch continued. “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,” he added. Wyoming Republican Senator Cynthia Lummus told Fox News Digital that 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,” Lummis, a bill co-sponsor, said. “Thank you to Senator Risch for introducing the ATF Transparency Act to protect our Second Amendment rights.” Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo, another co-sponsor of the bill, also praised the bill to overhaul the ATF. “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.” Senator Roger Marshall, R-Ks., who also co-sponsored the bill, told Fox News Digital, “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,” Marshall said. “I’m pleased to join Sen. Risch in introducing this important legislation that will do just that.” Also joining the lawmakers on the bill are fellow GOP Senators Rick Scott of Florida and James Lankford of Oklahoma. Additionally, both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America (GOA), two prominent gun rights groups, back the bill. “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,” NRA-ILA federal affairs managing director Brian Calabrese said. “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,” he continued. GOA director of federal affairs Aidan Johnston told Fox News Digital, “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,”Johnston said. The ATF has a history of backlog behind its doors that affect law-abiding gun owners across America. Risch’s bill would establish an appeals process within the ATF for Americans whose background checks were denied and requires the ATF to give National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) transaction numbers as well as cover attorney fees for successful appeals. The bill turns the ATF’s stated 90-day application turnaround goal into a hard 90-day deadline that would automatically approve the application if the deadline is not met. The legislation would also require both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general to report the number of National Firearms Act items that are involved in unfinished NICS background checks between 2014 and 2021, as well as give recommendations to the agency to minimize the number of background checks in limbo. Additionally, Risch’s bill would require the DOJ inspector general to report how involved the FBI is in NICS background checks and obligates the ATF and FBI to create a joint agreement on the NICS background check process. Risch’s bill comes as congressional Republicans look to bring the hammer on the ATF. On Wednesday, Republican Texas Rep. Michael Cloud reintroduced a bill to require the ATF to destroy gun purchase records they have in their database as the agency cracks down on gun stores. Cloud reintroduced the No Retaining Every Gun In a System That Restricts Your (No REGISTRY) Rights Act on Wednesday, which would require the ATF to destroy all the purchase records they have in their databases. The bill would also require closing gun stores to destroy their purchase records, preventing the records from going to the ATF.
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