Out-of-Business Dealer Records Prompt Concerns of Backdoor Gun Registry

Out-of-Business Dealer Records Prompt Concerns of Backdoor Gun Registry

In recent weeks, Americans have rightly become concerned over a somewhat obscure ATF recordkeeping regulation that has a profound impact on gun rights. If gun control advocates get their way in changing this federal regulation for the worse, altering how ATF maintains these records, and are successful in criminalizing the private transfer of firearms, American gun owners would find themselves subject to what amounts to a backdoor gun registry. Federal law requires those who purchase a firearm at a Federal Firearms Licensee (gun dealer or FFL) to fill out a form 4473. This record of the firearm transfer is then stored by the dealer on their premises. This creates a system whereby if a gun is found at a crime scene ATF can trace the firearm to the last retail purchase. However, since the records are stored with each FFL, the system is decentralized in a manner that protects against government abuse of gun owner data. Gun dealers are required to maintain 4473s for 20 years. When a dealer goes out of business they must send their last 20 years of records to ATF’s National Tracing Center to facilitate firearm traces. Some of ATF’s materials appear to deliberately omit the 20-year requirement, seemingly in the hopes that FFLs will send all of their records to the National Tracing Center, regardless of age. Under this system, over a million out-of-business dealer records are sent to ATF each month. Records obtained by gun rights advocates show that in 2021 ATF processed […]

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