Today, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the obligation of Federal Firearms Licensees (“FFLs”) to report certain missing firearms. 78 Fed. Reg. 47033-47039.
The proposed rule is captioned Commerce in Firearms and Ammunition — Reporting Theft or Loss of Firearms in Transit, and is assigned docket number ATF 40P. Comments on the proposed rule are due on or before November 10, 2014. As explained in the Notice, the proposal is the result of ATF’s work that had been assigned reference number RIN 1140-AA41 on the unified agenda.
On November 21, 2013, Firearms Industry Consulting Group (“FICG) attorney Tom Odom submitted to ATF a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) regarding documents regarding the formulation of proposed rules which “would target cases where guns go missing in ‘transit'”. That FOIA request specifically referenced ATF’s entry on the unified regulatory agenda that appeared to address that subject (RIN 1140-AA41). To date, no documents have been produced. In addition, at the 2014 Firearms Import/Export Conference in Washington, D.C., just last week a panel of ATF officials were asked whether any work had been done with respect to preparing a proposed rule on the subject. ATF replied with a definitive “No.”
Curiously, once again the electronic portal at www.regulations.gov reflects that ATF has opened a docket with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking while failing to make publicly available any supporting documents. When asked at the conference last week why ATF refused to provide such information with respect to its pending rulemaking in ATF 41P, the only explanation offered was that ATF had never done so in the past.
So, it appears once again that interested parties will have to guess at ATF’s reasoning and its representation of unsupported “facts” as no documents have been added to the rulemaking docket and a FOIA request has been ignored for over eight months.
We will be posting updates as the rulemaking process moves forward.