Bill/Issue: S 4841The ATF Improvement and Modernization Act of 2020

Sponsor: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Position: Opposed

Summary: Gives the ATF more power/money, removes limits on the sharing of firearms trace data

Sen. Van Hollen has just introduced a Senate bill that would dramatically beef up the ATF's power. But that's not all because this draconian legislation would also allow for the indefinite retention of NICS data. Check out our analysis below for the disturbing impacts of this bill.

Main Impacts

  • Eliminates the Tiahrt Amendment, i.e. limits on the sharing of firearms trace data, and permits FOIA requests for this data and information on arson and explosives incidents.
    • If repealed, anti-gun rights “researchers” and political organizations will contort this data in an attempt to demonize gun owners. Firearms trace data will also be sought to bring lawsuits against manufacturers and dealers for the criminal acts of third parties.
  • Eliminates salary and expense caps for most ATF functions, missions, and activities, while also permitting the ATF to farm out its workload to other government agencies.
    • Permitting funding increases and fungibility of assignment would mean granting the federal government the power to massively expand its abuse of firearms dealers and to scour indefinitely retained NICS data (see below).
    • Allows for the indefinite retention of NICS check data

Impacts on Gun Dealers & Buyers

  • Changes the FFL license revocation standard for violation of FFL requirements from “willfully” to “knowingly”, making it easier to revoke FFLs and to deny applications.
  • Allows the ATF to compel gun dealers to participate in random physical inventory and records inspections.
    • In conjunction with changing the revocation standard, this means that if something in dealer inventory or records is off, even if only temporarily, but that the dealer was aware of the situation, it will be easier for the ATF to revoke the dealer’s license and deny it upon reapplication.
  • Allows the government to deny applications for the importation of curios and relics, and applications for the importation of shotguns. 
    • Prevents collectors from importing firearms that are almost never used to commit violent crimes.
    • Reduces the availability of firearms in the market, increasing the cost of firearms commonly used for hunting.
  • Allows the ATF to deny FFL applications based on a lack of business activity.
    • Repeal of this restriction on denial means that the ATF would be able to arbitrarily determine whether or not someone has the right to be a business owner. 
    • Allows the ATF to search the computer records of FFLs who have gone out of business.
    • Once a dealer has gone out of business, they are no longer a federal firearms licensee, and should therefore have no further recordkeeping obligation under the GCA, but this bill would impliedly require them to continue maintaining transaction records. 
    • Prevents aggrieved parties from introducing new evidence in court after they have gone through the executive branch’s FFL adjudication process. In other words, this change violates Due Process.

This dangerous, anti-gun bill must be stopped! Please take action using the form below IMMEDIATELY to contact the Senate and tell them to OPPOSE this awful legislation.