Joni Ernst’s ‘FIREARM’ Act Would Protect FFLs from Biden’s Weaponized ATF

Senator Joni Ernst Iowa
Senator Joni Ernst (Facebook)

The most anti-gun administration in the nation’s history has used all of its executive powers to make life as difficult, onerous, expensive, and annoying for every part of America’s gun culture, from the the average Joe and Jane Gunowner to firearm manufacturers as well as online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

One of the most egregious aspects of that has been the weaponization of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with the goal of revoking as many federal firearms licenses using virtually any pretense imaginable. This has taken the form of the agency’s “zero tolerance” application of gun control laws that punish FFL holders for even routine spelling and clerical errors.

The agency’s jack-booted industry operations inspectors now routinely classify things like typos and writing a buyer’s county in the country field on a 4473 as “willful” violations, then use them as excuses for pulling a gun store’s ticket. The ATF is quite proud of the record they’ve compiled in this area and the skyrocketing revocations have made both the Bidenistas and their cheering section in the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex very happy indeed.

Courtesy ATF

Now Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has introduced legislation intended to reign in the ATF. The torturously-named Fighting Irrational Regulatory Enforcement to Avert Retailers’ Misfortune (FIREARM) Act has the goal of keeping the agency from being used as a political tool by gun-hating politicians.

This is, however, an election year and Chuck Schumer is the Senate majority leader, so don’t expect anything to come of this any time soon. Elections have consequences and maybe this will prompt some people who care about their gun rights to hold their noses and vote this November. We shall see.

Here’s the NSSF’s press release announcing the introduction of the bill . . .

NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, welcomes the introduction of S. 3812, the Fighting Irrational Regulatory Enforcement to Avert Retailers’ Misfortune (FIREARM) Act, by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). Companion legislation, H.R. 7471 under the same name, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). The “FIREARM” Act would create a safe harbor for federal firearm licensees (FFLs) who are at risk of losing their licenses and livelihoods due to the Biden administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that has weaponized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to revoke licenses for minor unintentional clerical errors and mistakes.

“Senator Joni Ernst’s ‘FIREARM’ Act will help restore confidence that ATF will fulfill its mission as a regulatory agency over the manufacture and sale of firearms rather than being used as a political tool by special interests,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President & General Counsel. “Under the Biden administration, the firearm and ammunition industry has seen the ATF turned into a sledgehammer to carry out this administration’s extreme antigun policies. This damages the cooperative relationships between firearm retailers, who are on the frontline preventing illegal straw purchases of firearms, and the ATF, who enforces laws to safeguard our communities. NSSF is thankful for Senator Ernst’s leadership to provide remedies that repair this necessary public trust in our federal agencies.”

Specifically, the “FIREARM” Act:

      • Creates a safe harbor for FFLs to self-report violations, so they can correct any accidental errors;
      • Requires the ATF to work collaboratively with FFLs to fix violations and help avoid future violations;
      • Addresses the “willfulness” issue by defining it to mean a voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty achieved through specific intent or deliberate planning, excludes previous conduct and creates a rebuttal if the conduct is not willful; and
      • Allows for direct judicial review of license revocations to avoid the ATF from serving as the prosecutor, judge and jury.

President Joe Biden instituted the ATF’s “zero-tolerance” policy that puts firearm businesses at risk of losing their licenses and livelihoods for minor clerical errors that were previously corrected by ATF inspectors to assist those businesses to stay compliant and within the laws and regulations governing the firearm industry. The ATF revoked 157 licenses of FFLs in 2023, and an additional 80 firearm retailers chose to voluntarily surrender their license rather than endure the costly and painstaking process of clearing a business’s name, a pace for both of which has increased each year of this administration.

Since taking office, President Biden directed the ATF to revoke the licenses of firearm businesses for these minor clerical errors by classifying them as “willful” violations. That’s a sharp break from previous White House administrations. The Biden administration is now employing a “whole-of-government” attack on the firearm industry and Second Amendment rights of lawful and Constitutionally-protected businesses and law-abiding gun owners.

8 Responses

  1. She shouldn’t be praised for this. Why? This should be par for the course for Republicans. We won’t forget the other things she’s done. She needs to be replaced in her next primary. Most of the R’s in Congress are a joke! They vote for good things when their vote doesn’t count. Then, when we really need them, they’re practically Democrats. Ernst has been a disappointment. Don’t forget.

  2. No matter how Senator Joni Ernst’s has performed in the past. If she sticks to her guns with this legislation, then she deserves our support.
    The biden administration is doing things because they can and not because of right or wrong. There should be some way to prevent, stop and punish those who participate is such schemes. Good luck to Senator Ernst with the “Firearm” bill.

    1. “If she sticks to her guns with this legislation, then she deserves our support.”

      And that’s how they play the voters. Then when they’re really needed, they aren’t there for us. Don’t go along with their manipulation game. The Congressional Republicans need a deep cleanse.

  3. @Hush Nothing personal. You’re one of my favorite regular commenters on that other site. I have to disagree here. I’ve noticed a trend by observing elected Republicans over the past few years. Almost all of them do this. They’ll propose popular legislation that has little to no chance of succeeding. Then they’ll go on a media tour to promote themselves. It puts people into the mentality of Democrats bad, Republicans good, so vote for Republicans. Then when their vote really matters, just enough R’s will join Democrats to pass/not pass consequential legislation. People will be angry for awhile, but senators have a 6 year term to help people forget. Rinse and repeat.

    I’m officially done with these people. We should all be keeping a list of every single one of these traitors. Support them only if it’s them versus a Democrat. Otherwise, try to oust them. I’m volunteering for the RNC this year, so I’m doing what I can to win over the commies. However, I will be doing everything in my power to replace each and every Republican who has shown their true colors in the past. Ernst is one of those people. We need to find a challenger for her next primary. Spread the word.

  4. Don’t forget she supported and voted for legislation that provides funds to states to implement Red Flag laws. That directly violate 2nd, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment Rights.

  5. Dude and Darkman I totally agree with you and I too believe RHINOs need to be weeded out ASAP. I would rather a person be a dedicated democrat vs a RHINO in that we know what a democrat will do and support; but, a RHINO is unpredictable and often speaks with a forked tongue. Red Flag laws are at best ex parte and I have been fighting that type of legislation. If you have been following SB 1 in Louisiana, you may not know that another Senator tried to modify SB 1 into oblivion via a similar bill that contained Red Flag additions. Fortunately that bill, SB 14, never was heard in a committee and thus died.
    Talk about a back door entrance or disguise. SB 14 is an excellent example as to why every word of any legislation should be read.
    Dude thanks for the kind words and I graciously accept your gratitude even though my hat is now too small.

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