WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC), Representative Michael Cloud (R-TX), and 40 other Republicans introduced the No Retaining Every Gun in a System That Restricts Your (REGISTRY) Rights Act to dismantle the alleged Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) illegal gun registry.
In December 2020, AmmoLand News discovered that the ATF was scanning all out of business records into a database using optical character recognition (OCR) scanners. AmmoLand News was covering a story about Walmart transmitting all records of firearms sales to stores that stopped gun sales. When a federal firearms licensee (FFL) goes out of business, the FFL must send all its firearms transactions records, including bound books, to the ATF’s out-of-business office in Martinsburg, WV, to be stored. At the time, the retail giant shut down 20% of its FFL locations.
Federal law prohibits the ATF from keeping any type of gun registry. Many gun rights activists consider the out-of-business database a registry. Gun Owners of America (GOA) pushed Congress members to investigate digitizing of records by the Bureau. The ATF did not want to share too much information about the Out-of-Business Records Imaging System (OBRIS) database with the public.
A year later, Rep Cloud of Texas wrote to the ATF demanding that the Bureau tell Congress the size and scope of the out-of-business records database. The government agency responded that they held nearly one billion records to everyone’s surprise. Of those records, over 866 million have been digitized. The ATF bragged about how many guns were tracked using the database while at the same time claiming that they did not have a firearms registry.
Many different gun rights groups viewed the ATF’s admissions as proof that the law enforcement agency had a registry in violation of federal law.
The Bureau disagreed with the pro-gun group’s assessment claiming that the database was not a registry. The ATF claimed the sheer number of records made it impossible to store all the documents in paper form. The Bureau claimed it needed and is a better solution than using microfiche.
Rep Cloud, Rice, and 40 other members of Congress did not buy the ATF’s excuses. They were also concerned that the proposed rule change that would require FFLs to keep all records forever instead of for 20 years and requiring all records to be stored on-site would lead to a back door gun registry.
The members have introduced a bill that would prevent the ATF from receiving documents from FFLs that shut their doors. Instead of sending their records to the ATF’s out of business office to be scanned into the OBRIS database, the FFL would simply destroy the records.
“The Second Amendment is clear, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed,” Congressman Cloud said.
“There is no reason for law-abiding American gun owners to be subjected to excessive scrutiny on the firearms they own by the federal government. My bill would dismantle ATF’s record-keeping, restore privacy for American gun owners, and reverse the groundwork laid in the creation of a federal firearms registry.”
The bill will face an uphill battle in Congress, and President Biden would most likely veto the bill if it ever reached his desk.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.