Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s bill, S. 436 – Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011. One of the witnesses was Heather Anderson of the Washington State Patrol. Her written testimony spoke to Washington State’s submissions for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
In what can only be called an unintended ironic statement she said,
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has determined that Washington State does not meet the requirements of the NIAA for firearm restoration of rights and a relief program. ATF considers Washington’s relief law too permissive in some areas and too restrictive in others. This does not allow Washington to participate in NIAA requests for grant funding. The legislature has not updated state law to match federal requirements. There is continued effort by multiple agencies to accomplish this in the future.
What makes this so ironic is that ATF has not processed ANY request for restoration of firearms rights since October 1992. And the reason that they haven’t is because Sen. Chuck Schumer always inserts a clause in the appropriations language to deny them the funds to process these applications for the restoration of firearms rights.
While 18 USC 925(c) does provide for judicial review of applications for the restoration of firearms rights, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Bean that the courts cannot perform judicial review until such time as an application is rejected by ATF. If ATF is denied the money to process these applications, there can be no denial. In other words, the consummate Catch-22 situation.