More than 100 Republican U.S. Representatives signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday asking him to ensure recent changes to gun-purchase processing will not effectively ban Americans from lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently changed its rules that formerly allowed contractors to “assist law-abiding Americans” with filling out their National Firearms Act (NFA) forms, which can be complicated and confusing. NFA applications are required for certain firearms such as short-barreled rifles or specifically modified shotguns as well as silencers.
“We need to ensure this process allows Americans to fully exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado. The letter also points out that “the ATF’s actions run contrary to Congressional intent and the Bureau’s previous promises.”
“Allowing these companies to continue serving the public only simplifies the eForms submission process provides an important level of quality control and helps taxpayers overcome technical instability and scaling issues with ATF’s current e-filing system,” the letter explains.
Dave Matheny, the owner of Silencer Shop in Austin, Texas, who supports Congress’s action on the issue, also noted the ATF has been inconsistent with the third-party rules, sometimes excluding them from assisting with filling out any digital forms, which can be filled out and processed faster than paper.
“Third-party processors can help you complete the forms, it can help you submit forms, they can collect your signatures — they can do pretty much everything,” he said. “But then [ATF] basically cut third-party processors out and said ‘You can submit on paper, but you cannot submit electronically.”
According to Matheny, the ATF’s NFA application process require lots of time, effort, and money, which means many people can get discouraged in the bureaucratic process and effectively hinder their constitutional right to defend themselves. That’s why the contractors were so important.
“What happens is, over time, as these forms get more complex, people go to more and more third-party processors like Silencer Shop to essentially fill out the paperwork for them,” Matheny explained.
Signatories on the letter included House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise