ATF Tries to Dodge Accountability for ‘Zero Tolerance’ Abuses

For more than a year now, Gun Owners of America has been duking it out with the ATF in court over the agency’s “zero tolerance” policy for FFL’s, which threatens to put gun store owners out of business over minor and accidental paperwork errors. On today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, GOA senior vice president Erich Pratt joined me to discuss the latest twist in their legal efforts, with news of how the ATF is trying to weasel its way out of the group’s lawsuits.

“Here’s the problem,” Pratt shared. “A gun dealer will get threatened with revocation of their license, GOA comes in to defend them like we did just recently in Florida, and then the ATF says ‘oops, our bad, we won’t revoke your license!’ And then they ask the judge to make the lawsuit go away. And that’s exactly what’s happening in our Florida case, where the judge is treating our lawsuit as being mooted because the ATF backtracked and decided not to revoke the gun dealer’s license.”

“Well, the problem is that as part of this lawsuit we’re actually representing hundreds of other dealers in the suit and they all still potentially face this zero tolerance policy threat, but the judge wants a real example of another dealer who is currently being threatened by the ATF,” Pratt revealed.

We’ve seen anti-gunners play this game before. In fact, the ATF’s strategy seems to be borrowed from New York City and the state of New York, which sucessfully mooted a challenge to laws dealing with firearms transportation by changing the law in question after the Supreme Court accepted the case.

For the ATF, ending the licensing revocation process is no big deal. After all, they can always pick up where they left off the next time they inspect the FFL, and in the meantime they’ve still forced a small business owner to hire an attorney and spend thousands of dollars trying to keep their doors open. Some shops won’t be able to survive harassment like that, even if the agency pulls back when groups like GOA come to their defense.

“In truth, we need zero tolerance for the ATF,” Pratt declared. “They’re the agency that allowed thousands of guns to illegally walk into Mexico during Fast & Furious, where innocent people were killed. We need to defund this agency because they are out of control.”

The 7 percent cut to ATF’s budget negotiated by Republicans in the budget package that will be voted on this week is a good start, but what Pratt needs more than anything at the moment are other FFLs who are facing license revocation to come forward and share their stories.

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