FederalGunsTexas Rep. Michael Cloud, Other Republicans Warn ATF Rule Change Could Lead to Unlawful Gun Registry

Congressman Michael Cloud and other Texas Republicans say a proposed rule change at the ATF could pave the way for a federal gun registry.
November 24, 2021
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Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) led a letter with 51 other Republican members of Congress to the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), expressing concern that the agency is encroaching on the Second Amendment.

In the letter, the lawmakers say that they fear the “Biden Administration is intent on creating a federal gun registry by circumventing the legislative process.”

Under current law and regulations, federal firearms licensees (FFLs) that are in the gun-selling business are required to keep records of firearm purchases for at least 20 years.

Although law prohibits the federal government from maintaining a centralized registry of firearm ownership, FFLs that go out of business are required to transfer their records to the ATF.

An internal ATF document published by The Washington Free Beacon states that a staggering 54.7 million out-of-business records were transferred to the agency in Fiscal Year 2021 alone.

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A new rule for the department that is being considered by the Biden administration would, among other things, require FFLs to maintain records of firearm purchases indefinitely instead of 20 years.

“Texans are rightfully wary of efforts from an intrusive federal government to consolidate control at the expense of our liberties,” said Cloud in a statement to The Texan.

“Americans have the constitutional right to keep and bear arms — to protect themselves and their families. The proposed rule by the Biden Administration would put our country on the path to a federal gun registry, which infringes those second amendment rights. As a member of Congress, it is my job to hold them accountable.”

Cloud and his colleagues included a list of questions for the ATF in their letter about the out-of-business records that the agency retains, including the total number of records and how often they have been used to successfully prosecute violent criminals in the past three years.

Fellow Texans who signed onto Cloud’s letter include Reps. Pete Sessions (R-TX-17), Van Taylor (R-TX-03), Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), Chip Roy (R-TX-21), Lance Gooden (R-TX-05), Roger Williams (R-TX-25), and Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01).

In addition to the letter, 27 members of Congress — including Cloud, a few of the members listed above, and Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX-14) — also submitted a comment in opposition to the proposed rule change.

The comment lists in detail their complaints with the proposed rule, which they describe as “omnibus gun control legislation clothed as a regulation to implement the existing statute.”

“[It] should be withdrawn immediately, as it is outside the authority of bureaucrats to enact new criminal laws or to amend statutes passed by Congress in order to regulate items that heretofore have been unregulated,” the lawmakers write.

“The [Department of Justice] is free to make its recommendations to Congress in the normal course of business, but only Congress, as the elected representatives of ‘the people,’ has the authority to change existing statutes or to enact new criminal laws.”

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.