Democrats in Congress, allied with every large anti-gun group in existence, have unveiled the "ATF Improvement and Modernization Act."
The proposal, introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in the House and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in the Senate, is an 18-page bill which allows indefinite retention of NICS data, puts licensed gun dealers under increased scrutiny, opens the books on firearms trace data to anti-gun researchers, and increases funding to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
"This commonsense legislation puts forward sweeping changes that will help ATF – and our country – tackle the gun violence epidemic,” said Van Hollen, who has long partnered with gun control groups such as Everytown.
Of the 35 bills the Maryland Democrat has signed on to in Congress, many are anti-gun to include legislation against 3D printing, a controversial ban on "assault weapons," universal background checks, handgun licensing, and so-called "red flag" laws.
Introduced in the Senate as S.4841 Van Hollen's latest measure has the enthusiastic support from Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Brady, March for Our Lives, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, among others.
"Too often we don’t see or think about the men and women at ATF working to make our country a safer place," said Adzi Vokhiwa, Giffords federal affairs director. "Their ingenuity and courage has been tragically limited by a federal government which has tied ATF’s hands at every turn. Senator Van Hollen and Representative Beyer are taking an important step to correct this mistake by introducing the ATF Improvement and Modernization Act."
On the other side of the argument, pro-Second Amendment groups such as the Firearms Policy Coalition are sounding the alarm on the AIM Act, calling it "disturbing" as it would eliminate the long-held Tiahrt Amendment which protects firearms tracing data, eliminates expense caps for ATF missions, allows FFLs to have their licenses revoked or denied easier, targets the importation of shotguns as well as curios and relics, and-- perhaps most chilling-- would allow the ATF to maintain a national centralized firearm database.
In addition, the bill would allow federal regulators to keep NICS background check data, which is currently mandated to be deleted in 24 hours in the case of approved checks. Such a mandate on data retention has long been in place over concerns that Brady checks could lead to a national firearms registry.
The AIM Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. While the current session of Congress is set to expire in January, both Van Hollen and Beyer will be returning to Capitol Hill in 2021, so it is likely to see rapid reintroduction next year.