Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Republican Senator Urges Biden Administration to Clarify Surge in Revoked Gun Dealer Licenses, Alleges Attack on Second Amendment

Sen. Joni Ernst, right, is calling on President Biden's ATF to provide answers on the recent surge of gun dealers losing their licenses. (Getty Images)

Republican Senator Joni Ernst is calling on the Biden administration for greater transparency regarding the rising number of gun dealers who have lost their licenses due to the ATF's "zero tolerance" policy. This policy has raised suspicions of being an indirect attack on the Second Amendment.

In a previous letter dated November 7, 2022, which also had the support of Iowa's other GOP Senator, Chuck Grassley, Ernst sought clarity on the criteria and consequences of this policy. Almost a year has passed without a response from the administration. Ernst noted that the ATF has recently asked for a $1.8 billion budget hike, sufficient to hire 500 additional staff, and questioned the efficacy of such an increase given the agency's lack of responsiveness.

The Senators' earlier letter expressed concerns about a rise in the number of revoked firearm licenses in their home state of Iowa. They argued that an overly strict enforcement of minor administrative errors was putting honest businesses at risk and infringing on constitutional rights. 

Anthony Navarro, a firearm dealer who lost his license due to this policy, revealed to The Wall Street Journal that his annual revenue had plummeted from $1 million to under $100,000. He asserted that the policy serves as a covert means to undermine the Second Amendment.

In contrast, an ATF spokesperson stated last month that Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) often help in preventing gun-related crimes and that those who intentionally break the law should be held accountable. According to the ATF, there was an increase in license revocations: 122 in the last fiscal year compared to 90 the year before and 27 in 2021.

Ernst criticized the Biden administration for intentionally complicating the legal process for gun dealers, claiming it was part of an agenda to suppress Second Amendment rights. She insisted that accountability is imminent.

Her latest letter posed multiple questions for the Biden administration, including the procedure the ATF follows when revoking a license and whether there have been any changes to that process under the current administration. Ernst also asked for statistics on the number of FFL holders going out of business in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, as well as the ATF's definitions of "willful violation" compared to clerical errors.

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