Republicans reboot bill to require ATF to film their gun tests

A group of House GOP members wants the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to show their work when it comes to gun testing procedures.

The mechanism to mandate uniformity in how the regulatory agency conducts firearms testing, HR 1047, was introduced last month and is backed by 11 House Republicans.

Sponsor U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., introduced a similar measure in 2015 and at the time cited the move was needed to provide transparency to the ATF’s operations and ward off possible corruption.

The language of the proposal would require ATF to make a video recording of its entire process of examining and testing an item during the determination of if it is a firearm and of what type. The measure would block the agency from editing or erasing any part of the film.

The bill would also require the ATF provide the film to firearm manufacturers that have submitted a firearm for testing or to defendants in a criminal trial concerning the item.

While not noted by Hice’s office, the subject of ATF firearm testing surfaced in the recent federal case of an Ohio man acquitted on charges of making what the agency contended were over 190 unlicensed firearms suppressors.

In the case, the defendant’s legal team argued that the ATF did not test fire the seized items and did not conduct additional machining needed to create functional suppressors from the parts. They questioned the government’s expert witness’s ability to ascertain just what a suppressor was as he did not come from a manufacturing background.

The proposal has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.