In the most recent fiscal year, the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has revoked 122 gun dealer licenses, with critics claiming Biden is surreptitiously undermining the Second Amendment.
Compared to previous years, these numbers are unprecedented. In the previous fiscal year, only 90 licenses were revoked, with only 27 revoked in 2021. “Since records of revocations began in 2013, the ATF never revoked more than 81 dealers’ licenses,” stated The Wall Street Journal.
Detractors argue that this aggressive approach mostly affects lawful gun dealers who often assist law enforcement in tracing firearms used in crimes. They state that the ATF’s enforcement has become overly harsh.
As some law enforcement veterans explained, the earlier method of issuing warnings instead of immediate revocations was more effective policy. Peter Forcelli, a retired deputy assistant director of the ATF, said, “‘The gun dealers were our first line of defense against gun trafficking. Why are we now beating an ally into submission?'”
Steve Dettelbach, who became the director of the ATF in July 2022, stood by the bureau’s current policy, emphasizing the need for strict adherence. He remarked, “We’ve taken steps to hold accountable those few dealers who are engaging in these willful violations. They’re not going to have the privilege of being a gun dealer anymore.” Former ATF official Rick Vasquez also supports this stricter policy. He noted that prior to this administration, the ATF had a more forgiving attitude, leading some gun dealers to exploit it.
Yet, some dealers believe they’re being unduly targeted. Anthony Navarro, who lost his license following three warnings since 2009, claims that the paperwork violations at his establishment were minor. Some were even due to a former employee’s actions, which Navarro says he reported to the ATF promptly. Navarro asserts, “‘This policy is designed to be a backdoor violation of the Second Amendment.'”
Another gun store in North Dakota, Bridge City Ordnance, also had its license revoked. The specific reasons remain unclear, but the store’s proprietors have sued the ATF, alleging that the store inspections are being used as a “political weapon.”