WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) has joined U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) in introducing legislation to combat a secretive classification review process used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in determining whether a particular firearm should be regulated by the National Firearms Act.

The ATF Accountability Act (S.3529) would provide transparency to law-abiding gun owners across America on rules made by the ATF and their effect on Second Amendment rights.

“The ATF owes nothing less than transparency to law-abiding gun owners exercising their Second Amendment rights and all Americans in general.  For the past few years, its secretive rule making processes and lack of accountability have threatened those constitutional rights,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Our bill would work to level the playing field for American gun owners, dealers, and manufacturers affected by these unacceptable ATF rules and determinations.” 
“American gun owners and manufacturers have been left in the dark for far too long with closed-door rule changes by the ATF.  Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights shouldn’t be the last to know the classification status of firearms, or what licenses or tax stamps they need to avoid running afoul of the law.  The ATF needs accountability and transparency, which this bill accomplishes,” Braun said.

ATF decisions and justification for decisions related to National Firearms Act regulations are often only made available to manufacturers in private correspondence.  This practice creates a lot of uncertainty for both gun-owning Americans and firearm manufacturers, especially in combination with the ATF refusal to make final public rules regarding classification.

S.3529 would:  

  • Create an appeals process following a ruling by ATF with specific regular timeframes.
  • Permit gun manufacturers to appeal the legal status or classification of any product by filing with the Director of Industry Operations with jurisdiction.  After which, the appeal is directed to an administrative law judge.

U.S. Senators John Barrasso, M.D. (R-Wyo.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) also cosponsored the legislation.  

Last year, Hyde-Smith was among 20 Senators who signed a letter to the Attorney General Merrick Garland and the then-Acting ATF Director Marvin Richardson demanding the disclosure of details of its use of secret internal guidance to enforce regulations that are not openly published and could threaten constitutional Second Amendment rights.