Report: ATF Violated Restrictions, Compiled Information on U.S. Gun Owners

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) violated restrictions to compile information on U.S. gun owners.

According to the report, the ATF “has 25 firearms-related data systems, 16 of which contain retail firearms purchaser information from a federal firearms licensee (FFL)—such as firearms importers and retailers.” Sixteen of these systems contain “retail firearms purchaser information,” as it pertains to guns purchased from a federal firearms license holder (FFL).

GAO singled out 4 of the 16 systems for audit–the Out-of-Business Records Imaging System (OBRIS), Access 2000 (A2K), the Firearm Recovery Notification Program (FRNP), and Multiple Sales (MS) systems. They found that “2 fully comply and 2 did not always comply with the appropriations act restriction prohibiting consolidation or centralization of FFL records.”

In one of the systems–FRNP–general compliance was discovered yet there was also evidence that “a 2007 through 2009 program using FRNP did not comply. ATF cancelled this program in 2009 and deleted the related data in March 2016.” GAO also uncovered a “technical defect” in the system that “allows ATF agents to access FRNP data—including purchaser data—beyond what ATF policy permits.”

They found that the MS system complied with restrictions “but ATF inconsistently adheres to its policy when deleting MS records.”  For example, names contained in the MS system are required to be deleted within two years. But GAO discovered that “until May 2016, MS contained over 10,000 names that were not consistently deleted within the required 2 years.”

The examination of the MS system also showed the “ATF’s collection and maintenance of the records of out-of-business…industry members violated the appropriations act restriction on consolidation or centralization of firearms records.” This was corrected in March 2016 by transferring the records to another system and deleting them from MS.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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