On Monday, an ATF white paper was leaked to the Washington Post that called for the loosening of gun restrictions. The white paper was written by Ronald B. Turk, the ATF’s associate deputy director and chief operating officer.
Here are some of the restrictions that are under consideration for loosening, according to the white paper:
- Making it easier for Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) to sell only at gun shows and online. Turk argues it would enhance public safety and encourage gun shows to allow only FFL holders to sell at gun shows.
- Resuming the importation of World War II weapons such as M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and M1911 pistols. The Obama administration blocked several attempts to reimport these weapons citing public safety concerns, despite the fact these weapons are rarely used in gun crimes.
- Clarify the definition of firearms that come with a “stabilizing brace.” Some gun manufacturers have created a stabilizing brace that allows a handgun to be strapped to the arm of a disabled shooter in order to allow them to stabilize the handgun. However, the brace looks like stock and if it’s not strapped on the arm, it could become a short-barrelled rifle and subject to a $200 tax and registration under the National Firearms Act (NFA).
- Allow the importation of so-called “assault weapons” such as AR-15s and AK-47s. Both types of rifles, and other semi-automatic “assault weapons” are already produced in the United States and are commonly sold.
- End the regulation of silencers under the NFA. Over the past 10 years, the ATF has only referred on average 44 people a year for silencer-related offenses and only 6 of them had previous felony convictions. Turk also points out that silencers are rarely used in gun crimes. Now silencers have become more common in hunting and other shooting sports as a hearing protection device.
- Allow FFL holders to sell at gun shows out of state
Gun control advocates have already announced their opposition to these proposed changes. “This white paper offers a disturbing series of giveaways to the gun industry that would weaken regulatory oversight of the gun industry without adequate consideration of the impact on public safety,” Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at the Center for American Progress, told the Washington Post. Parson also attacked the white paper for “prioritize reducing perceived burdens on the gun industry over an interest in protecting public safety from the illegal diversion of firearms.”
But most of these proposed loosened restrictions are simply common sense. For example, the loosened restrictions on doing business at gun shows could help close the so-called “gun show loophole” that gun control advocates are constantly talking about. Also, what public safety purpose is served by restricting the import of old World War II era guns?
The opposition of gun control advocates is not based on public safety grounds. It is based on the grounds that more people may have access to firearms. That is because many gun control supporters would like to see either an end to or to heavily restrict private firearms ownership.
But if the Trump administration adopts this white paper, it would go a long way towards bringing common sense to America’s gun laws. It would even make America safer by focusing the ATF’s attention on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals instead of of making new criminals through interpretations of arcane laws.