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Senior ATF Official Proposes Loosening Gun Regulations

ar-15 with silencer

An internal “white paper” by a senior official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) suggests that suppressors be removed from the NFA due to increased use and improved public perception.

According to the Washington Post, Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the ATF, the second-highest-ranking official at the ATF recently published an eleven-page document suggesting the agency review several high-profile issues.

Here is a highlight of some of the proposals raised in the document.

#3 Importation Ban on “Assault Weapons”

There is no clear public safety reason why taxpayer-funded US-origin C&R defense articles should be denied re-importation to the American public.

Importation and sale through licensed dealers would effectively regulate the lawful transfer of these firearms through a licensee and a background check.

The more recent denials were in part due to perceived potential that they may be used in crimes, for which there is little, if any, evidence for such a concern.

#6 New Sporting Purpose Study

Since the sunset of the Assault Weapons ban in 2004, the use of AR-15s, AK-style, and similar rifles now commonly referred to as “modern sporting rifles” has increased exponentially in sport shooting. These firearm
types are now standard for hunting activities.

Restriction on imports serves questionable public safety interests, as these rifles are already generally legally available for manufacture and ownership in the United States.

Many concerns from the firearms industry could be re-examined through the publication of a new Sporting Purpose Study along with an updated Imports Branch Guide.

#8 Silencers/Suppressors 

The wide acceptance of silencers and corresponding changes in state laws have created substantial demand across the country. This surge in demand has caused ATF to have a significant backlog on silencer applications. ATF’s processing time is now approximately 8 months.

In light of the expanding demand and acceptance of silencers, however, that volume is unlikely to diminish unless they are removed from the NFA. While DOJ and ATF have historically not supported removal of items from the NFA, the change in public acceptance of silencers arguably indicates that the reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.

However, according to the Washington Post, an ATF spokeswomen stated that while the white paper has the ATF seal on its cover, it doesn’t represent the views of the ATF.

It’s simply his opinion, and it’s to generate dialogue, said spokeswoman Jan Kemp.

What do you think of these issues? I would appreciate the ability to more easily use a suppressor for hunting or target shooting!

About the Author: Dominic Aiello is an avid hunter, angler, and wildlife policy expert. He is the President of the Oregon Outdoor Council, Cabela’s Prostaff, and Outdoor Writer. Follow his adventures on Instagram @daiello91 or Twitter @HunterInformant

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Senior ATF Official Proposes Loosening Gun Regulations