In a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Republicans on Wednesday asked for guidance on what constitutes an “unlawfully obtained firearm.”
The letter, sent by Reps.
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Kevin Brady (R/TX), Mike Kelly (R./PA), and Trent Franks (R.-AZ), asks for a report on the “unnecessary and unconstitutional use of a firearm” and the “effect on the Second Amendment.”
“The Second Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy and is under attack by the NRA and their political allies in Congress,” Rep. Jason Cummings (D-MD), a co-sponsor of the letter, said in a statement.
“It is clear that the ATF is failing to enforce the laws they swore to uphold.”
The letter was drafted after Rep. Steve Cohen (D/TN), a sponsor of the legislation, called on ATF Director Brian Noseworthy to clarify whether a gun is “intended for sale” or “for resale” or if a gun can be “sold without a license.”
“It appears that if a firearm is intended for sale, but not sold, the ATF will not issue a license,” Cohen wrote in a letter, obtained by Politico.
A spokesperson for Chaffetz said the House has not seen the letter and had no comment.
The letter comes just days after the National Rifle Association and a host of other groups sent a letter asking Congress to prohibit “unreasonably and unjustified” sales of guns to people who were previously on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.
In the letter sent to the FBI, the NRA said that “a firearm cannot be lawfully transferred or transferred without a valid ATF license.”
The NRA also called for the FBI to make sure that gun dealers who sell guns to non-residents do not sell them to people on the terrorist watchlist, saying they would not be able to keep their business if their customers are on the watchlist.
“These individuals should be able, as a matter of law, to purchase firearms from dealers licensed by the state of their residence or country of origin,” the NRA letter said.
“The FBI’s refusal to enforce federal laws that would bar illegal gun sales to those who are on its watchlist will only result in unnecessary and unjustifiable gun violence and destruction of lives.”
This legislation would end the needless and unjustificational harm to our nation’s law-abiding citizens by allowing the ATF to enforce our laws to the fullest extent possible.
“The letter from Chaffetz and Brady was co-signed by Reps Trent Franks, John Carter, and Pete Sessions, along with Rep. Dan Donovan.
The lawmakers wrote that the letter is a first step in addressing the problem of “gun violence, gun crime, and gun violence-related injury in the U.S.” that has seen the number of gun deaths double in the past decade, and they want to see the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “develop a framework for law enforcement to prioritize, investigate and prosecute gun violence crimes.”
The lawmakers noted that they are “deeply concerned” about the gun violence problem, and are “concerned about the increasing number of mass shootings and mass deaths caused by gun violence.”