The FIREARM Act Or Don’t Be Racial Profiling Me, Bro

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives added an ethnicity question to the Form 4473 in 2012. Prior versions only asked about the purchaser’s race. Question 10a now asks if you are Hispanic or Latino or Not Hispanic or Latino. I guess that is because they wanted to distinguish the White Hispanics from the Asian Hispanics from the Pacific Islander Hispanics. With the US government’s definition of Hispanic and Latino being what it is, the later two categories that I mentioned are indeed possible given the migrant Japanese and Chinese populations living in countries like Peru as well as the Pacific Islanders living on Easter Island which is part of Chile.

I should note that Question 10b which asks about race does not include any provision for people who could best be classified as either bi-racial or multi-racial. Of course, the BATFE being the bureaucrats that they are, they insist on both questions being answered.

Given that everyone purchasing a firearm through a FFL must go through a NICS background check, it really should not matter what race or ethnicity you are. That is the position that Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) are taking with the introduction of The FIREARM Act.

Black, Poe Introduce the FIREARM Act

Legislation prohibits the federal government from requiring race or ethnicity to be disclosed when purchasing a firearm.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Diane Black (R-TN-06) and Ted Poe (R-TX-02) introduced the FIREARM (Freedom From Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates) Act – legislation to prohibit the federal government from requiring race or ethnicity to be disclosed in connection with the purchase of a firearm. In 2012, the Obama Administration quietly began requiring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to record firearms purchasers’ race and ethnicity.

“This requirement by the ATF is highly intrusive and unnecessary,” said Congressman Black. “Failing to adhere to this requirement by not checking all of the correct boxes on the 4473 Form is considered an ATF violation that can be so severe as to result in the gun dealer being shut down for having incomplete purchaser forms. This is causing a headache for many firearms retailers and this commonsense legislation would simply stop the federal government from requiring businesses and consumers to comply with this ‘race and ethnicity standard.’”

“Washington bureaucrats have no business requiring citizens who are lawfully purchasing firearms to disclose their race or ethnicity,” said Congressman Poe. “Under this rule, both gun dealers and purchasers face the threat of federal prosecution for not disclosing race or ethnicity on a form. This is an intrusive and unnecessary requirement. As long as the gun is purchased lawfully, race or ethnicity should be irrelevant.”

The ATF’s justification for this requirement stems from a “race and ethnicity standard” devised by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) almost 20 years ago. According to the OMB, the 4473 Form was to be updated by ATF by 2003; however, there is no federal law requiring this administrative directive. Why, almost 10 years later, is the federal government requiring gun store owners and purchasers to record race and ethnicity? Failing to adhere to this requirement — if the boxes are left blank — can result in the ATF shutting down the business for having incomplete purchaser forms.

The language of the bill is quite simple.


The Federal Government may not require any person
to disclose the race or ethnicity of the person in connection
with the transfer of a firearm to the person.

I think this is a reasonable bill that might make it out of committee but that will never make it to Barack Obama’s desk for signing. It might pass the House but it won’t go anywhere in the Senate.