(House of Representatives - April 06, 2011)

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[Page H2330]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              {time}  1010
                      SUPPORT THE BATFE REFORM ACT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Altmire) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. ALTMIRE. Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to 
support a legislative effort to modernize the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. I have joined with Congressman Steve 
King to introduce the BATFE Reform Act, which will safeguard American 
citizens' Second Amendment rights by bringing commonsense reform to the 
BATFE so that it can do a better job of punishing lawbreakers and 
keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, without placing undue 
restrictions on local businesses in this difficult economy.
  Our proposed legislation would make sure that federally licensed 
firearms dealers are not subject to poorly formulated and unnecessary 
regulations by updating the rules and potential penalties governing 
individuals and businesses that hold a Federal firearms license so they 
are clear and fair.
  Our goal is to create a fair system under which firearms dealers with 
minor paperwork errors are no longer threatened with the loss of their 
livelihoods. Defining a willful violation is an important step in 
clarifying the way Federal firearms license holders are punished by the 
BATFE. Currently, the Bureau is limited in most cases to either giving 
a warning or totally revoking a license, no matter how minor or severe 
the violation. That's the current law. But I believe that these small 
business owners and law-abiding citizens should not be so harshly 
punished for small or even insignificant bookkeeping errors.
  Our legislation would create a new system of penalties for Federal 
firearms license holders who commit minor violations, and prevent the 
Bureau from revoking Federal firearms licenses for minor technical 
violations such as improperly using abbreviations or filing records in 
the wrong order. Revocation of a license could still be an option for 
the BATFE to punish willful violation of the law, but it would not be 
the only option.
  The BATFE Reform Act would also make commonsense reforms to help 
small businesses that sell firearms. For example, it would provide a 
Federal firearms license holder with the time to liquidate their 
inventory if they are going out of business. It would also allow a 
grace period for people taking over an existing firearms business in 
which they can correct preexisting record-keeping violations from the 
previous owner and make necessary updates to the license application 
  Our bill would permanently ban the creation of a centralized 
electronic index of dealers' records to protect gun owners' privacy and 
ensure that law-abiding gun owners will not unknowingly end up in a 
Federal gun registration database. Congress has included this language 
in its annual appropriations bills banning the creation of an index for 
more than a decade. This time we want to give it the weight of law so 
we can give gun owners certainty and make this policy part of the 
existing law.
  The NRA has endorsed this legislation, and I would ask my fellow 
Representatives to show their support for the Second Amendment and 
small businesses nationwide by cosponsoring the BATFE Reform Act.