ATF: Working for the American people, or the gun industry
After court fight, Brady Center obtains secret documents revealing undue influence of gun lobby, disregard for public safety mission at agency that regulates firearms
On January 20, 2017, as President Donald Trump was being sworn into office, the second highest ranking official at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was busy finalizing an 11-page white paper recommending that the agency adopt a series of gun industry-friendly policy changes and rollbacks. After all, the National Rifle Association (NRA) had contributed over $30 million to Trump's presidential campaign; it was no secret that Trump, who spoke at the NRA's annual convention on the campaign trail, had become a darling of the gun lobby. The ATF official behind the paper, Ronald Turk, circulated it to high-level ATF colleagues on January 23, 2017 - Trump's first work day in office.
The white paper was never intended to become public, but it was leaked to the Washington Post, which published it on February 6, 2017. Titled "Federal Firearms Regulations: Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations," it reads as a gun lobby wish list for the new administration. Included were recommendations to make it easier to sell firearms at gun shows, to loosen restrictions on importing assault weapons, and to reclassify silencers to make them more widely available to the general public.
Through litigation, Brady now has obtained previously secret ATF documents that show not only that the gun lobby influenced this white paper, but that a gun lobbyist helped write it. Read our full report for more on this and other troubling truths Brady has uncovered from the documents.