The ATF is awfully interested in racial profiling all of a sudden

This government regulation game can be so darned confusing sometimes. I thought that it was the GOP who was all about the racism and the Obama administration wanted to move us to a post-racial society? And yet, since new background check rules from the BATF went into effect in 2012, federal forms require purchasers to provide racial information. What’s up with that?

No matter the cause, in a strange twist of political roles which will no doubt give the media conniptions, some Republicans are pushing a bill to stop the practice.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — ever since changing its background check policy in 2012 — has had gun buyers answer questions about race and ethnicity in what’s known as a 4473 application form. Gun dealers who do not disclose the information can be hit with fines and other penalties.

But Reps. Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Ted Poe, R-Texas, want to remove the race and ethnicity lines.

“This intrusive reporting requirement by ATF is nothing more than backdoor gun control,” Black told in a written statement. “An individual’s race and ethnicity has nothing to do with their ability to safely own a firearm.”

The bottom line, Black said, “is that the government should be color blind on all of our rights — including the Second Amendment.”

There are multiple levels of contradictory messages in here which will require some sorting out. At the highest level, conservatives almost universally oppose the collection of gun owner information by the federal government for obvious reasons which we don’t need to trudge through again here. Liberals, on the other hand, want to have full lists their fellow citizens who are rude enough to arm themselves, and like to publish them if they get the chance, just to draw scorn upon those who embrace their Second Amendment rights. But can you imagine what the media response would be if it was a Republican who wanted to start collecting a list of gun owners broken down by race… and even worse, publish a list of guns used in crimes citing those statistics? The cable news networks would be in full meltdown mode.

So why is Barack Obama’s BATF collecting this data? Believe it or not, they have an official reason.

The ATF, though, defends its policy and says race can be helpful when tracing firearms used in crimes.

Spokesman Corey Ray told The Hill that the “information can be helpful when tracing firearms used in crimes, to ensure the correct identification of an original purchaser and avoid misidentifications.”

Wait… isn’t that racial profiling of a sort? I thought that was A Bad Thing. Oh, my… this is all so confusing. But that’s really not the point here. The document under discussion is form 4473, the Federal Firearms Transaction Record, which an authorized seller must complete as part of the legal gun sale process. The information therein should be protected from general (or government) consumption unless there is a warrant related to an ongoing investigation. It’s absolutely not a federal gun registry, as we have so often been assured, because we’re not supposed to have a federal gun registry. In fact, the liberal press has gone out of their way to mock any conservatives who suggest that Obama wanted one in the first place. Is collecting this data really all that useful in that context?

It’s similar to the debate we’ve had about background checks and the NICS system. Why would the feds care if a background check has racial information on the record? According to the FBI’s information on Privacy and Security of NICS Information for background checks, the data is supposed to be destroyed after a check is completed and comes up clean.

The NICS is not to be used to establish a federal firearm registry; information about an inquiry resulting in an allowed transfer is destroyed in accordance with NICS regulations. Current destruction of NICS records became effective when a final rule was published by the Department of Justice in The Federal Register, outlining the following changes. Per Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 25.9(b)(1), (2), and (3), the NICS Section must destroy all identifying information on allowed transactions prior to the start of the next NICS operational day.

And yet we’re collecting this race date on prospective gun owners. But don’t worry. I’m sure it’s all the Republicans’ fault somehow. You know what a bunch of racists they are.