Law Shield wants to give our members some background information on changes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made to Form 4473 in April 2012 to require gun buyers to distinguish both their ethnic and race identity. You may have noticed the changes yourself and wondered why the new questions appeared.
On the form, the prior 4473 question 10 concerning race has been revised into two questions that break down the buyer’s ethnicity and race in parts 10.a and 10.b.
First, in 10.a., buyers must identify themselves as “Hispanic or Latino” or “Not Hispanic or Latino.” Then, in 10.b., the buyer is directed to check one or more boxes, with the choices being: “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” “Black or African American,” “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” or “White.”
We’re told many applicants skip over the Hispanic/Latino box and only check their race — a natural mistake, if our reading of the form is a gauge.
The ATF has stated in a notice to all FFLs that both questions must be filled out, or the dealer can be cited for serious paperwork violations by the agency. If the ATF believes a pattern of the questions not being answered by buyers appear, the seller could lose his FFL.
In a letter addressed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) inquired as to why the information was being collected and whether the data had ever been used to restrict someone’s ability to purchase a firearm. “What does that possibly have to do with whether you would pass the background check for a firearm or not?” Blunt asked.
The agency said the forms were updated to comply with a standard set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB guidelines were due to go into effect on January 1, 2003, and BATFE did not indicate why it elected to make these changes in 2012.
“OMB’s race and ethnicity standards require agencies to ask both race and ethnicity in a specific manner (as done on [Form 4473]), and agencies may not ask for one without asking for the other,” said Elizabeth Gosselin, a spokeswoman for the ATF.
Firearms lawyer Evan Nappen said, “This issue concerns me deeply because, first, it’s offensive, and secondly, there’s no need for it. If there’s no need for an amendment, then there’s usually a political reason for the change. What this indicates is it was done for political reasons, not law enforcement reasons.”
Why do you think BATFE made this change? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments section below.