Byline: Awr Hawkins 

On Monday, Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn-6) and Ted Poe (R-TX-2) introduced a bill to end the ATF’s practice of trying to ascertain the race of firearm purchasers via background checks.

ATF form 4473 currently asks would-be purchasers to identity their race and ethnicity at part of a background check.

According to The Hill, the ATF changed their background check forms so as to inquire about race and ethnicity in 2012. They have been “collecting this information” ever since, but claim they have “never compiled it in any database.”

Gun dealers who do not comply with ATF requests for race and ethnicity information on purchasers can face unspecified penalties.

Poe commented:

Forcing citizens who are lawfully purchasing guns to disclose race and ethnicity with the threat of federal prosecution if they fail to disclose is completely unnecessary. Bottom line, if a law-abiding citizen is lawfully purchasing firearms, race and ethnicity are irrelevant.

Representative Black spoke against the race questions by pointing out that they are just one more set of government-required steps that law-abiding citizens must go through before being allowed to exercise their rights. She said: “Law-abiding citizens should never have to play 20 questions with Uncle Sam just to access their fundamental right to keep and bear arms.”

This current effort to do away with the race questions comes less than a year after Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) asked ATF director B. Todd Jones if race “has ever been used to block someone from purchasing a gun.”

Blunt said:

The constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It is disconcerting that the U.S. government is gathering this type of data on citizens when there is no connection between purchasing a firearm and an individual’s race or ethnicity.