After the Biden administration implemented a policy of “zero tolerance” for gun dealers, gun shops are closing quickly. The language was also changed to define what is considered a “willful offense”. According to Gun Owners of America, the Federal Firearm Licence (FFL), revocations have reached an 16-year high.
The increase in FFL revocations is partly due to changes in language and administration at the ATF. Previously, ATF guidance said that FFls could be revoked. However, the ATF’s new “zero tolerance” policy states that FFLs will only be revoked for the first violation. They often decide to revoke licenses for multiple “willful” violations. This is why license revocations rose by 92 in 2022.
As a first step, they used to send a warning note when they discovered a mistake. “If they find more mistakes they will hold a work conference with the FFL to discuss the matter.” Aidan Johnston (GOA Director of Federal Affairs) told the DCNF.
Johnston explained that the new policy of Biden’s administration is that warning letters and conference safeguards are often ignored. This allows ATF licenses to be revoked on the first try.
“This does not reflect the way regulatory agencies should operate in the industry that they regulate.” Johnston stated that they are supposed help companies and ensure compliance but not punish entire industries or create distasteful or political groups.
According the factsheet, the 2022 and 2021 revocations were more than twice as high as the 2021 revocations. The ATF also issued 136 warning conferences, which is the maximum penalty inspectors can recommend to avoid revocation.
“The problem with the ATF under Biden is that it cannot be trusted not to use so-called Zero Tolerance Policy” Alan Gottlieb, Executive Vice President, Second Amendment Foundation told the DCNF.
WCYB 5 reports that J.C. Harrison, a Johnson City store owner, received a letter from the ATF in April 2022 notifying him of his license being revoked. Harrison appealed the decision but it was denied. Harrison claimed that the action was an “attack on the Second Amendment through the backdoor.” ”
Harrison claimed that Harrison’s “violations”, as WCYB 5 stated, were only clerical errors. Harrison failed to keep track of when the weapons were returned to his after they had been worked on.
A background check must be conducted if the applicant’s background checks exceed 30 days. Harrison was financially dependent on the license and had to make a difficult decision about having his license revoked.
He stated, “My wife, that was our only source of income, and it’s not anymore.” ”
ATF cannot cancel federal firearms licenses for ‘clerical mistakes. A federal firearms permit cannot be revoked for ‘clerical errors’.
According to leaked ATF guidance ATF also updated its guidelines on what constitutes “willful violations” in 2022. The new guidelines give inspectors more flexibility.
Johnston explained to the DCNF that if he has a clean record and doesn’t make any mistakes over a long period of time, the first is evidence of a willful offense. Johnston stated that he was familiar with the law, but that he didn’t follow it the first time.
According to leaked documents the updated guidance says that the ATF must prove willfulness to proceed with revocation. However, the agency doesn’t need to prove a history of violations before determining willfulness. ”
While licensees do not often engage in this conduct, the public safety consequences of willful violations can be serious. The ATF has ruled that one willful violation under GCA regulations is enough to cause a federal firearms license to be revoked.
Johnston said that although license revocations rose in 2022, they were also higher during the first month of “zero tolerance”.
A gun shop that receives a warning conference should rectify its mistake. Johnston told the DCNF that the ATF began to reopen the guns shops and investigate them to penalize them with “zero tolerance”
A coalition Republican legislators wrote to the DOJ/ATF asking for information on how the legal definition of “willful” was being used in order to remove FFLs (Female firearm licenses) from gun dealers.
Biden-Harris Administration claims this policy will increase public safety and decrease crime. ”
The letter states that the Biden administration must provide all information by March 1.
The DCNF didn’t receive an immediate response from the DOJ.