The Senators wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Acting ATF Director Marvin Richardson to demand more transparency.
On Monday, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) announced she had joined 19 of her colleagues in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Acting ATF Director Marvin Richardson demanding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) disclose details of its use of secret internal guidance to enforce regulations that are not openly published and could threaten constitutional Second Amendment rights.
Senator Hyde-Smith stated that both she and her colleagues find it incredibly concerning that ATF is concealing guidance and using it on unsuspecting Americans to seize property and justify prosecution, violating our Second Amendment rights. The letter to AG Garland and Acting Director Richardson demanded more transparency.
“We write to express our grave concern over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ (ATF) continued pattern of enforcing secret guidance,” the Senators wrote. “This secret guidance was brought to our attention by those who have received recent threatening letters1 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. These letters are in addition to an internal ATF email ordering seizure of various items and referring to those in possession as “defendants.” We find this pattern of secret regulation incredibly troubling.”
The Senators request that the U.S. Department of Justice and the ATF provide the following no later than March 25, 2022:
- All internal instructions, directives, or guidance to any and all employees and/or contractors assigned to or working with the Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division containing criteria, factors, or “indicators” to be used to make the determination of whether a “solvent trap” is classified as a silencer subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act.
- All internal instructions, directives, or guidance to any and all employees and/or contractors assigned to or working with the Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division containing criteria, factors, or “indicators” to be used to make the determination of whether a “forced reset trigger” is classified as a machine gun subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act.
- Copies of all publications through which the ATF has made such guidance and criteria available to ATF Agents, including all Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division Technical Bulletins issued regarding “solvent traps” and “forced reset triggers”, including copies of each.
- An explanation as to how these bulletins are used by law enforcement.
- An explanation as to why documents with similar guidance have 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 letter concluded.
You can read the full letter from the Senators below.