White House / Public Domain

Twenty-five Congressional Republicans have sent a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Gary Restaino demanding that he explain the recent uptick in the agency revoking Federal Firearm Licenses (FFLs).

Recently the ATF has started revoking FFLs at a rate higher than in years past; this was brought to the public’s attention by the Second Amendment Foundation.

Representative Andy Biggs said in a statement, “his pattern is deeply troubling and makes it abundantly clear that this Administration seeks to advance its anti-firearm agenda at any cost.” Rep. Biggs continued, “Acting Director Restaino must provide us with details surrounding ATF’s FFL revocation policies.”

The letter from Congressional Republicans was published by Representative Andy Biggs (R-Az). The letter reads:

At the aggressive direction of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is currently undertaking a broad and unprecedented effort to revoke Federal Firearm Licenses (FFLs) from law-abiding business owners throughout the country. In recent months, the number of FFL revocation proceedings initiated by ATF has skyrocketed I and ATF has reportedly adopted an officially sanctioned practice of basing revocations on minor infractions discovered in previously-closed inspections.2 According to business owners, these inspections, occurring six to eighteen months prior, often involved clerical errors that were fully resolved and addressed by the businesses with no subsequent infractions.

The DOJ’s efforts to force its administration’s agenda onto ATF are particularly disturbing.3 Local A TF field agents have shared they feel pressured to take actions against individual businesses that they do not feel are appropriate or in the interest of public safety.4 Some have even reported that A TF field divisions are being pitted against each other and being forced to compete on the number of licenses revoked. 5 A TF Directors of Industry Operations, who oversee revocation proceedings, are being told to press forward with this escalating quota system or face professional repercussions.6 This commandeering of an agency’s discretion to support the administration’s agenda undermines ATF’s ability to function as a specialized agency and is rapidly destroying the trust and confidence A TF has worked hard to establish with the firearms industry over many decades. This is the same trust and confidence that has historically fostered open communications between ATF and members of the industry, resulting in voluntary reporting of criminal or suspicious activity and frank discussions to help improve compliance.

This storm of increased regulatory enforcement is directed at the industry as a whole without regard to the personal destruction wrought upon its individual members. In addition to the scores of innocent businesses at threat of being destroyed, we have heard that one licensee died of an anxiety attack within days of receiving his final notice of revocation and another licensee committed suicide during the revocation process.

Henry Rodgers of The Daily Caller reported on the subject earlier this week, showcasing the questions these Republicans want to ask the ATF. These are the questions that Republican lawmakers want the ATF to answer:

  • Is there an official or unofficial competition among ATF field divisions related to FFL revocations?
  • Has the DOJ or ATF established quotas related to FFL revocations or any other metric related to FFL revocations?
  • How many FFLs were revoked by ATF from 2009-2016?
  • How many FFLs were revoked by ATF from 2017-2020?
  • How many FFLs were revoked by ATF from 2021-present?
  • How many FFLs is ATF in the process of revoking?
  • Please provide all email communications from DOJ or ATF leadership to field division leadership regarding the revocation of FFLs.
  • Please provide all email communications from ATF field division leadership to field agents regarding the revocation of FFLs.
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