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Senator Blunt Demands Answers From Obama Administration On Why ATF Is Forcing Gun Buyers To Declare Race, Ethnicity

September 19, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), who co-chairs the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, sent a letter today demanding answers from the Obama Administration surrounding reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is forcing Americans to declare their race and ethnicity when purchasing a firearm.

“The right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms is an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Blunt wrote. “The constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It is disconcerting that the U.S. government is gathering this type of data on citizens when there is no connection between purchasing a firearm and an individual’s race or ethnicity. Any measure that may interfere with a citizen’s ability to exercise his or her constitutional right to purchase a firearm needs to be questioned.”

According to a report in the Washington Times this week, “With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 — the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm — to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white… The ATF declined to comment on why race and ethnicity information are needed in the first place or what they are used for.”

According to previous reports, the ATF claimed, “Question 10 was revised due to an Office of Management and Budget requirement that every form issued by the federal government that collects race and ethnicity information must use separate questions wherever feasible for reporting race and ethnicity.”

To read the entire letter, please see below or click here.

September 19, 2014

The Honorable B. Todd Jones
Director
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20226

Dear Director Jones:

I write to express my concerns over recent reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is requiring individuals, who wish to purchase over-the counter firearms from a federal firearm license holder, to provide their race and ethnicity on Form 4473. It is my understanding that the ATF has been requesting the race and ethnicity of individuals prior to purchasing an over-the counter firearm from a federal firearm license holder since April 2012 as a result of an Office of Management and Budget requirement.  

The right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms is an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It is disconcerting that the U.S. government is gathering this type of data on citizens when there is no connection between purchasing a firearm and an individual’s race or ethnicity. Any measure that may interfere with a citizen’s ability to exercise his or her constitutional right to purchase a firearm needs to be questioned.

I respectfully request that you provide answers to the following questions.

1. How is the information collected by the ATF concerning an individual’s race and ethnicity being used, and for what purposes?

2. Has the information collected by the ATF concerning an individual’s race and ethnicity been used to restrict the right of an individual to purchase a firearm?

3. What policies and procedures does the ATF have in place to safeguard the privacy and personal data of individuals providing information on Form 4473?

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.

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