FIRST ON FOX: House Judiciary Committee Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, sent a letter to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) demanding the agency’s head testify before Congress.
Jordan, the chairman of the committee, and Massie, who holds a subcommittee gavel, demanded ATF Director Stephen Dettelbach appear before the House Judiciary Committee along with several agency officials.
In the letter obtained by Fox News Digital, the lawmakers wrote they “have written the ATF with several requests for information and documents regarding the agency’s efforts to regulate firearms through the rulemaking process” and that they have “additional questions” requiring Dettelbach’s and other agency officials’ testimonies.
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“The ATF’s lack of transparency comes after the agency issued a final rule banning stabilizing pistol braces, and as the agency continues to shut down lawful businesses through the “zero-tolerance” policy for federal firearms dealers (FFLs),” the Republicans wrote.
“Just last year, the United States Supreme Court held in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency that under the major questions doctrine, ‘given both separation of powers principles and a practical understanding of legislative intent, the agency must point to “clear congressional authorization” for the authority it claims,’” they continued.
“This ruling raises serious doubts about ATF’s ability to regulate pistol braces absent a clear mandate from Congress,” Jordan and Massie added.
The lawmakers requested Dettelbach appear before the committee on April 26, 2023, at 10 a.m. and that the “hearing will be an opportunity for the Committee to hear directly from you, as the head of the agency, about the decisions that led the ATF to implement these controversial policies.”
Jordan and Massie added, “In addition, this hearing will allow Members to learn more about the reversal of years of previous ATF opinions in regulating firearms with stabilizing braces.”
Additionally, the Republicans requested that several senior ATF officials appear for transcribed interviews, as well, including agency chief of staff Daniel Board, acting assistant director of public and government affairs Justin O’Connell, and deputy assistant director Megan Bennett.
ATF spokesperson Erik Longnecker told Fox News Digital the agency has “not yet received the letter in question.”
“However, just a little over a week ago, ATF provided Chairman Jordan with detailed responses to questions he asked about rule-making along with more than 81,000 pages of documents responsive to his request,” Longnecker said.
“We look forward to continuing productive and cooperative exchanges with Congress regarding ATF’s mission to protect the public from violent crime,” he added.
President Biden’s ATF has been under major scrutiny for a slew of controversial rules from issues involving pistol stocks to a “zero-tolerance” rule for gun stores that critics target Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
Internal documents from the ATF show the “zero tolerance” guidelines the agency is using to shut down gun stores.
Fox News Digital exclusively obtained the ATF’s federal firearms licensee (FFL) inspection guidance from January 2022 that makes it easier to revoke gun stores’ federal licenses.
The guidance says the agency “has zero tolerance for willful violations that greatly affect public safety and ATF’s ability to trace firearms recovered in violent crimes” and that “revocation” of the FFL’s license “is the assumed action” with violations.
“Therefore, revocation is the assumed action, unless extraordinary circumstances exist, when violations are cited that include” transferring a firearm “to a prohibited person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the transferee is a prohibited person,” failing to perform a background check, and “making a false or fictitious written statement in the FFL’s required records or in applying for a firearms license,” the guidance reads.
The guidance defines administrative action “as a warning letter, warning conference, revocation, imposition of civil fine, and/or suspension of a federal firearms license, including a recommendation of denial of an original or renewal application, and alternate action to revocation.”
According to the documents, the “ATF must establish willfulness to proceed with revocation” under federal law, but the agency “does not have to establish a history of prior violations to determine willfulness.”
“Accordingly, ATF will revoke a federal firearms license, absent extraordinary circumstances on initial violations, if those violations inherently demonstrate willfulness, such as transferring a firearm to a prohibited person; failing to run a background check prior to transferring a firearm to a non-licensee; falsifying records, or making false statements; failing to respond to an ATF tracing request; refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection; or allowing a straw sale of a firearm to occur.”
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