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Congressman Diane Black

Representing the 6th District of Tennessee

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House Passes Rep. Black’s Amendment to Protect Gun Rights, End Government Collection of Race and Ethnicity Data for Firearm Sales

June 3, 2015
Press Release


To watch a video of Rep. Black's remarks, click HERE or the image above 

Washington, DC– Last night, the House passed Congressman Diane Black’s (R-TN-06) amendment to H.R. 2578, the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations Act. This amendment would stop the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from requiring Americans to disclose their race and ethnicity on its form 4473, a mandatory document for most gun sales. The amendment is modeled after the FIREARM Acta standalone bill Congressman Black introduced earlier this year with Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX-2).

Congressman Black’s amendment was adopted by a voice vote. A vote on final passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 CJS Appropriations Act is expected later today. Prior to the vote on her amendment, Congressman Black made the following remarks on the House floor:

Madam Speaker, our founding fathers didn’t mince words when they authored the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution. They spoke plainly and with conviction, writing that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Unfortunately, this Administration hasn’t always seen it that way.

Recently, President Obama’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives enacted a quiet change to its Form 4473 – a mandatory document for most gun transactions – that requires Americans to disclose their race and ethnicity in order to complete the sale. What’s more, failure to collect this information is considered an ATF violation that could result in government penalties for the gun dealer.

By placing an extra barrier of complexity between law abiding citizens and their right to own a firearm, I believe this intrusive reporting requirement sets up a direct challenge to the 2nd Amendment rights enshrined in our Constitution – not to mention the right to privacy.

Madam Speaker, we all want to see weapons kept out of the hands of criminals but an individual’s race and ethnicity has nothing to do with their ability to safely own and operate a firearm. Perhaps that’s why even traditionally left-leaning groups like the ACLU have spoken in opposition to this requirement.

The fact is, government should be colorblind on all of our rights – whether it’s the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or the right to keep and bear arms. That is why my amendment states that the government cannot require gun buyers to disclose their race or ethnicity at a point-of-sale – it’s really that simple.

I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this commonsense amendment so that we can reverse this latest regulatory overreach and ensure that fairness and privacy are upheld in our nation’s gun laws.

Background:
In 2012, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) quietly implemented a change to its Form 4473 which requires firearm purchasers to disclose both their race and ethnicity. Failure to collect this information is considered an ATF violation and could result in government penalties for gun retailers. 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. However, as even the American Civil Liberties Union noted, “There is nothing [in ATF or OMB's website links addressing the change in policy] that supports the requirement that ATF collect race-based information. The OMB guidance merely describes what categories of race should look like if information is collected."

Black and Congressman Poe first introduced the FIREARM Act, which this amendment is modeled after, in the 113th Congress and reintroduced the measure earlier this year.

Resources:
Reps. Black and Poe Reintroduce the FIREARM Act to Combat Obama Administration’s Backdoor Gun Control
Rep. Black’s Fox News Op-Ed: Why I Am Reintroducing the FIREARM Act – No Citizen Should Have to Play ’20 Questions’ to Own a Gun
Text of Rep. Black’s Amendment to H.R. 2578

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Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees