Gun Owners of America (GOA), a national gun rights organization, has criticized President Joe Biden’s $6.8 trillion budget proposal for 2024, specifically the proposed expansion of the ATF. According to Aidan Johnston, GOA’s director of federal affairs, the organization is “extremely concerned at the massive surge in ATF funding in recent years—doubling the size of the agency since the end of the Obama administration.”
Biden’s budget proposal includes $1.9 billion for the ATF, which is a 13.6 percent increase over 2022 and half a billion dollars more than the agency’s fiscal 2020 budget. If approved, the proposal would expand the ATF by 35.7 percent, representing a growth of over 50 percent since the Obama administration.
The $1.9 billion would be used to finance the expansion of multi-jurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces, increase firearms industry regulation, and implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The proposal also calls for $51 million for the FBI to complete the implementation of the enhanced background check system that is part of the Act.
GOA believes that the budget items proposed by Biden are nothing more than incremental gun control measures that will not make anyone safer and will deny law-abiding gun owners their constitutional rights. The organization is particularly concerned about funding for “crisis intervention programs,” such as the so-called “Red Flag Laws.”
Gun rights groups, including GOA, claim that Red Flag laws set the stage for authorities to confiscate firearms without due process. They argue that the language in the Act requiring due process is misleading because it doesn’t specify when the appropriate phase for due process is, leaving open the possibility that the appropriate phase may come after a person’s firearms have already been confiscated.
GOA also claims that the ATF uses a “zero tolerance” policy to build an unconstitutional gun registry. The organization obtained an internal policy memo in which ATF officials explain how to shut down law-abiding gun shops for minor infractions. When a shop closes, all its sales records are transferred to the government, which GOA claims the ATF has aggregated into a central gun registry to track all firearms, whether they have been used in a crime or not.