Reports have shown that the second-highest-ranking official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives recently wrote a proposal to reduce gun regulations—including examining a possible end to the ban on importing assault weapons into the United States. However, for many, that may not be the most exciting part. What about loosening the regulations on Short Barreled Rifles (SBR), or deregulating suppressors?
Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the ATF, in a “white paper” called for removing restrictions on the sale of gun suppressors. He also proposed initiating a study on lifting the ban on imported assault weapons among other things.
“Restriction on imports serves questionable public safety interests, as these rifles are already generally legally available for manufacture and ownership in the United States,” Turk wrote of the ban on imported AR-15s and AK-style weapons.
The 11-page white paper, reported on by The Washington Post, is titled “Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations.” Curiously, the proposal opens with the wording of the Second Amendment and is dated Jan. 20, which coincides with the end of the Obama Presidency and the beginning of Donald Trump’s.
Several of the proposals in Turk’s white paper are supported by the National Rifle Association—some the NRA have been lobbying for years. The report is not without its critics though. In a statement released by Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank:
“This white paper offers a disturbing series of giveaways to the gun industry that would weaken regulatory oversight of the gun industry without adequate consideration of the impact on public safety.
“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.
Although the white paper bears the ATF seal on its cover and lists Turk’s name and ATF title, a spokeswoman said it doesn’t represent the views of the ATF.
“It’s simply his opinion, and it’s to generate dialogue,” said spokeswoman Jan Kemp.
While legal to buy silencers in most states, you’ll pay a hefty “tax” and wait six months to year before approval to actually take it home. The gun industry has long sought relief from the National Firearms Act when it comes to suppressors. Crime data supports a relaxation as well.
“We look forward to working with the new attorney general as he puts the focus of the Justice Department back where it belongs—on prosecuting violent criminals, not harassing law-abiding gun owners. After eight years of overreach by the Obama administration, it’s time to roll back regulations that serve no legitimate law enforcement purpose,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
President Trump has long held that some of his best advisors are those closest to him—his family. It is no secret that his sons are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, shooting and hunting rights. Backing up the President is a friendly Republican legislature that has proposed legislation that properly addresses issues from reasoned platforms such as the public health issue of hearing loss and suppressors.
“Silencers are very rarely used in criminal shootings,” Turk notes in his white paper. “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety.”
In 1989, George H.W. Bush’s administration banned the import of semiautomatic assault rifles. Turk’s white paper, which refers to them as “modern sporting rifles,” notes that their use has “increased exponentially in sport shooting.
“Those firearm types are now standard for hunting activities. These restrictions have placed many limitations on importers, while at the same time imposing a heavy workload,” claims Turk.
Turk’s paper states that its purpose is “to provide the new administration and the Bureau multiple options to consider and discuss regarding firearms regulations.”
“These general thoughts provide potential ways to reduce or modify regulations, or suggest changes that promote commerce and defend the Second Amendment without significant negative impact on ATF’s mission to fight violent firearms crime and regulate the firearms industry,” ~Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the ATF.
Are you optimistic about the future of firearm legislation? Did Associate Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Turk get it right? Why or why not? Share your answers in the comment section.
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