In an attempt to strike a happy medium, the associate deputy director and chief operating officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has proposed possible ways to reduce or modify gun regulations that would create a more even balance between protecting the Second Amendment and still respecting the mission of the ATF to battle violent firearms crime and regulate the firearms industry.
Ronald B. Turk, who is second in charge at the ATF, has included proposals such as removing restrictions on the sale of suppressors; conducting a study concerned with lifting the ban on imported assault weapons; and requiring a higher amount of crime guns to be traced back to specific dealers before the federal government asks for additional information from those dealers.
“This white paper is intended to provide ideas and provoke conversation,” Turk said. “It is not guidance or policy of any kind.”
One of Turk’s proposals includes removing restrictions on silencers. This comes at a time when there is much controversy over the Hearing Protection Act in front of Congress, which would make it much easier to purchase silencers.
Turk also proposes removing restrictions on imported assault weapons.
“Those firearm types are now standard for hunting activities,” Turk said. “These restrictions have placed many limitations on importers, while at the same time imposing a heavy workload.”
Turk wants changes when it comes to “demand letters” sent to federally licensed gun dealers by the ATF. Currently, these letters must be sent to gun dealers who in the previous three years have sold 10 or more guns used in crimes. Turk calls for an increase in the number of crime guns required before sending a demand letter. He says this would “likely have a positive impact on the firearms industry and still meet program objectives.”
Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, is not in favor of a number of Turk’s proposals.
“ATF has long described its regulatory function as a core part of its law enforcement mission to fight gun crime, yet this paper seems to prioritize reducing perceived burdens on the gun industry over an interest in protecting public safety from the illegal diversion of firearms,” Parsons said.