Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and 19 of his colleagues in expressing concern over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) use of internal guidance to enforce regulations that are unpublished and unknown to the public. In an alarming display of insufficient transparency from a federal agency, the ATF has used this secret guidance to justify the seizure of property. The senators raise concerns that these regulations – unknown to the public – could be unfairly used to target and prosecute law-abiding firearm owners and businesses.
“We write to express our grave concern over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) continued pattern of enforcing secret guidance. This secret guidance was brought to our attention by those who have received recent threatening letters where the ATF makes blanket threats based on the recipient allegedly purchasing and possessing various firearms accessories, none of which are illegal based on any statute or regulation,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Our government, including the ATF, has a duty to inform Americans what they must do to comply with federal law, especially when the conduct involves the exercise of an enumerated constitutional right and violations could result in a penalty of up to ten years in prison. The use of ‘secret’ law is anathema to our system of government,” the lawmakers continued.
Grassley and his colleagues request the Department of Justice and the ATF provide them with all “internal instructions, directives or guidance” pertaining to these regulations, along with an explanation as to why this guidance has not been made available to the public.
“The ATF is charged by law with enforcing the nation’s federal firearms laws and providing regulatory oversight of the firearms industry. ATF simply has no authority to conceal public guidance and then enforce it on unsuspecting Americans. The ATF must issue only those regulations authorized by Congress, provide notice of the proposed regulations, and then provide the American people with an opportunity to comment before a new rule goes into effect,” the lawmakers concluded.
Read the full letter by clicking HERE.