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Two representatives have submitted a bill in Congress that would ban the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from collecting data related to a firearm purchaser’s race and ethnicity. The Freedom from Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates Act (or “FIREARM Act” – well done on the backronym there, guys,) was introduced on Monday by Representatives Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Ted Poe (R-Tex.) to eliminate a controversial policy begun in recent years by the Obama administration that collects ethnicity and race data from new firearms purchasers . . .

The Hill quotes Rep. Poe as follows:

“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,” Poe said in a statement. “Bottom line, if a law-abiding citizen is lawfully purchasing firearms, race and ethnicity are irrelevant.”

What prompted this bill? Well, since 2012, BATFE Form 4473 has required purchasers to first state their “ethnicity”, then their “race”. Wait – aren’t those two rather synonymous? Not in the blinkered minds of the diversity specialists in the Federal Government! No, there’s only one “ethnic” group: “Hispanic”. You’re either in or not. Then there are five “racial” groups: “American Indian or Alaskan Native”, “Black or African American”, “White”, Asian, and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander”.

The terms are so vaguely worded to be almost meaningless. The word “or” seems to imply that the term “Black” is not synonymous with “African-American” — so does that mean that the expatriate writer from Zimbabwe (nee Rhodesia) Alexandra Fuller counts as “African-American”? Or RF, whose mother was South African?

Does someone from Japan count as a “Pacific Islander”? What about the Philippines or Indonesia? The best part, however, is the catch-all term “Asian”, which encompasses peoples from Vladivostok to the Suez Canal as one “race”.

So in the BATFE taxonomy, “Hispanics” can be of any race. But Kazakhs, Vietnamese, Mongolians, Indians, and Arabs? All the same thing: “Asian”. I’ve seen Bugs Bunny propaganda cartoons from World War II that treat diversity with more respect than this.

What’s worse is that these are not rhetorical questions. Purchasers are required to fill out the form truthfully and completely. Making a false oral or written statement on the form is punishable as a felony. Further, as the Washington Times reported last year, it’s a regulatory violation that could be severe enough to shut down a firearms retail store if a form is submitted with incomplete or inaccurate information — such as someone just bypassing the “Hispanic” question and just proceeding to check (for example) “White” on the form, thinking it’s all one question.

Where did this policy come from? And why does “Hispanic” appear so prominently on the form, anyway? The BATFE reportedly states that the data is not being recorded. According to The Hill, the BATFE claims that it “has never compiled it in any database.” The federal government mandating the disclosure of ethnic data before exercising a constitutionally-protected civil right is a scary thought. So what’s the point?

Well, it appears that it may be linked to the Obama Administration’s asinine policy of running guns to Mexican organized crime. The Times article elaborates:

During the time ATF revised its 4473 form to include Hispanic or Latino as an ethnicity, the Obama administration was building gun control cases by saying U.S. firearms dealers were supplying Mexican gangs with weapons and that violence related to the sales was seeping across the border.

In March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico City and gave a speech against American gun stores and owners — blaming them for the drug cartels’ violence. Mrs. Clinton subsequently told CBS News that “90 percent” of the “guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and military” actually “come from America…..”

This political worldview may have fueled decision-making at ATF, [New Jersey firearms attorney Evan] Nappen suggests. Around the same time that ATF started specifying “Latino/Hispanic” on their U.S. purchasing forms, they also required border firearms dealers in Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico to start reporting multiple rifle sales.

In 2012, when ATF made the Form 4473 modification, they insisted their new reporting requirement for multiple rifle sales in those border states had led to “follow-up investigations involving transactions that might indicate firearms trafficking activities.”

The BATFE, of course, is an organization within the Department of Justice. The head of the DoJ — both when this ethnic data collection policy on form 4473 was implemented and still today — is Attorney General Eric Holder. Attorney General Holder once famously castigated Americans because “in things racial we have always been and continue to be…a nation of cowards.”

You know what? The Attorney-General may be right. I can think of no explanation other than “cowardice” for the appointment of the charlatans who, under Holder’s supervision, came up with the ethnic data reporting requirement described above. In which case, Representatives Black and Poe deserve our thanks and support for introducing their bill to eliminate this horrid policy of forcing Americans to declare their race and ethnicity before they can exercise their rights, and speaking a little truth to power along the way.

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44 Responses to Bill Would Remove Race/Ethnicity Question From 4473 Form

  1. Actually, the Bureau for the Absolute Termination of Freedom for Everyone (BATFE) is NOT a part of the DOJ, as incorrectly stated above; it is a branch of the TREASURY department, like the Infernal Ripoff Service.

    • BATFE was moved to DOJ in the early 2000’s I believe. You are however correct that it originally started out in the treasury, since it’s main focus was enforcing tax laws.

        • ANY organization tasked with restricting the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans is illegitimate, but supported anyway by a wannabe totalitarian state… >:(

      • yes – BATF was moved from Treasury to DOJ, which is when the problems started. . . . they went from looking for revenue stamps on alcohol and cigs, to becoming the jack-booted thugs of the racist AG. Don’t worry, I am Black. I can say it. 🙂

        Oh and Shannon is racist too. Her silence on this topic proves the point that Black Lives Do Not Matter to her.

        • The problems started a lot longer ago than that.

          But you’re right about the attorney general, and it’s true no matter how fricking melanin-deficient the skin is, of the person who’s saying it. (In the interests of full disclosure, by ancestry I’m a Euromutt, rather melanin deficient though not “fair” or “albino.”)

    • See timeline on ATF website here: http://www.atf.gov/content/about/our-history/timeline

      Except for a brief period during Prohibition era, ATF and its predecessor bureaus functioned within the U.S. Department of Treasury for more than 200 years. In January of 2003, ATF’s functions and responsibilities were transferred to the Department of Justice.

      This Act split the missions and functions of ATF into two agencies: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) transferred to the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) remained with the U.S. Department of Treasury.

  2. The section this is part of is for physical description. It would make sense to have race as a part. Hispanic/not Hispanic option is useless however.

    The issue I take with it is simple though. In a country where all our personal info is digitized, why do they need to ask? We already have to have a DL to buy, and they take down the ID number on the form. So why even ask about gender, race, height, or weight? They already have our ID. They know who we are. Most of us even put our SSN on it too to avoid mix ups.

    • What’s the difference between “race” and “ethnicity” in the first place? There was a time when Germans were considered a “race”, for instance. We can point to objective criteria (e.g., that person has brown hair, or that woman’s parents were born in Egypt,) but beyond that, it’s a question of genetic history, and that tends to be a much more mixed affair than people think at first blush.

      People trying to impose categories like “race” and “ethnicity” tend to have an agenda that is inimical to individual rights.

      • Race *could* still find use as a shorthand designator for a bunch of physical characteristics that generally go together. It only *roughly* correlates with where your ancestors are from. With progressively easier transportation over the last few centuries, that correlation is decreasing. As for any thought of geneticis, it turns out a “Caucasian” is genetically closer to an “Asian” than many groups of people in Africa are to each other, yet the Africans look pretty much alike to us. Everyone whose ancestry is from outside of sub-Saharan Africa is more closely related to each other than the people in Sub-Saharan Africa are.

        • Sounds about right. Race is typically based on the set of traits that a person is born with. It doesn’t mean much today, with all of our genetic diversification. Most of us have pretty widely-sourced genetics. Reducing it to 5 checkboxes is a pretty stupid oversimplification.

          Ethnicity is an even more useless identifier. It is akin to gender in the sex/gender classification. To qualify for an ethnicity, one merely has to self-identify with that ethnicity. They would need a ~30 page list of checkboxes to properly accommodate everyone.

          As a kinda-white pansexual hyenakin, form 4473 triggers me like a recalled Remington 700. Stop oppressing me, BATFE!

        • >> Race *could* still find use as a shorthand designator for a bunch of physical characteristics that generally go together.

          The problem is that even then there’s no clear standard. Take “White” for example – are Arabs and Jews white? Armenians and Georgians? How about Turks? Chechens? Kazakhs? Mongols? Or, say, how about Pacific Islanders and Maori – are they “Black” or “Asian”? What about Dravidians? etc.

  3. As a 4th generation American of Chinese descent, I agree 100%. Why should I be compelled to check their silly little books? What if I what to check “AMERICAN” and “CHINESE” rather than “ASIAN”?

    If they made filling out the question voluntary, fine. Otherwise, compelling people with the threat of fines / jail or worst to define their ethnicity / race according to government rules is stupid.

    We might as well go back to idiotic garbage like this:

    “HOW TO SPOT A JAP” by Special Service Division, Services of Supply, US ARMY:
    http://www.tofugu.com/2012/11/20/how-to-spot-a-jap/

  4. Ones ethnicity should have no bearing what so ever on purchasing a fire arm.
    The form to be filled out when making a purchase is just data but who sees it is the real question??

    • For that matter, none of the questions on the 4473 should have any bearing on a firearm purchase. The only question asked by the seller should be, “Do you have the money to pay for it?”

  5. How about we just eliminate the whole damn form. I don’t remember 4473 anywhere in the Bill of Rights. Oh, and yeah, it is none of their business what race I am.

  6. I could understand the race question on a background check but once the new forms came in with the Hispanic not Hispanic box it was going to far. The race question could make a difference in the decision if say a white man had the same name as a black man and one of them had a felony record. We didn’t see that form until about a year after Zimmerman was declared a “white Hispanic” as we has several 100 of the older ones on hand. I never made the connection to the feds running guns to mexico and wondered if Zimmerman was the reason. Another thing is that question is not on the multiple pistol sale form and we just got a new batch of those in last week.
    To say there is no central database that holds the info is false. While they claim there is no central comperterized database of gun buyers how do we know? Yes the 4473 stays with the dealer for a minimum of 20 years but they are never destroyed. They go to the feds at some point and I don’t think they just have a giant warehouse full of boxes of forms somewhere. That info has to be stored electronically someplace. Even if converted to microfilm there is software that can read the printed word and make a searchable database. If you buy more than one handgun at the same time or within the same week from the same dealer all your info including gun serial numbers is transmitted straight to the feds. What happens to that info? Out local agent wasn’t clear about how long it was stored when I asked. She just said she didn’t know for sure but thought it was purged from the system after a few days. I’m sure it is. (Sarcasm alert)

    • I thought the “Hispanic/Not Hispanic” question was absolutely ridiculous when it first appeared. I’d love to know what makes being Hispanic or not warrants its own checkbox?

      Question for others: I live in a border state (Arizona) and was wondering if that question might be border state specific or is it standard across the nation?

  7. I get resentful every time my government requires me to label myself. We won’t get rid of racism until we get rid of the labels. And in the melting pot that is the United States, those labels become more meaningless every day.

    • Those labels are very useful to the Left for electing a (thoroughly incompetent) black POTUS and for enthusiast support of a (thoroughly incompetent) female presidential candidate. Further, the racism and sexism in politics – black people vote for black people over 90% of the time greatly contributed to Obama wins in 2008 and 2012. Worse, sexism and the “it’s about time we had a woman in there” attitude may cause Hillary to win in 2016.

      I must say that racism and sexism are particularly apt terms when dealing with low-information voters who enthusiastically support Obama and Hillary without being able to name any of their accomplishments. To be fair, I use the term “accomplishments” loosely because both Obama and Hillary have done virtually nothing to benefit this nation. Further, I don’t even see any future plans that Hillary has which will actually benefit the nation – even mundane things like fighting for a balanced federal budget, protecting the border and other US interests, reducing the intrusion of government, etc. And the fact that Hillary is a well-known liar should have in her in prison, not getting ready for a cushy presidential job.

      Anyways, my point is that the left loves racism and sexism. When a white person calls Obama incompetent, he can be dismissed as a racist. When a man calls Hillary incompetent, he can be dismissed as sexist. It’s a convenient way to gloss over the fact that our POTUS and POTUS candidate for the Democratic party sit on a host of lies, arrogance, and scandals.

      Carly Fiorina might be a good potential 2016 candidate, and I would vote for Ben Carson if he was stronger on the 2nd Amendment. I simply mention those female and black candidates so that the left won’t accuse me of racism or sexism. I judge a person based upon the content of their heart and not the color of their skin.

      • Anyways, my point is that the left loves racism and sexism. When a white person calls Obama incompetent, he can be dismissed as a racist. When a man calls Hillary incompetent, he can be dismissed as sexist. It’s a convenient way to gloss over the fact that our POTUS and POTUS candidate for the Democratic party sit on a host of lies, arrogance, and scandals.
        That is an understatement.
        Yes, the entire progressive bolshevik movement is built upon racism, sexism, lies, communism, ethnic and class division, anti-semitism, elitism, civilian disarmament, and financial fraud and plundering.

  8. Why is gender on the form? What would a Transgender put on the form such they are not lying? Would Gail King enter Male or Female? Medically speaking, she is a man. From her pictures, not so much.

  9. In all other things race/ethnicity/gender are optional if asked at all and if asked even when the answer could be meaningful the question is met with offense by a great number of PAC’s, .org’s and individuals.

    ‘Cept fur da gunzors. They gotsta know if youre an innie or an outie. They gotsta know what color you are and your genetic makeup.

    In everything else such a question if offensive and hate-filled discrimination. But on that 4473 you best answer.

    Otherwise how will the anti’s ans banners know how many black people, hispanic people, “white” hispanic people, asian people, men or women are out there buying guns.

    Why not put a sexual orientation question on the form?

    Meanwhile in New Haven, CT the police cannot mention the race of a suspect. It’s always jeans and a t-shirt. Not that knowing whether or not you were looking for a man or woman with white skin or brown skin would help at all. Just stop everybody you see in jeans and a t-shirt.

  10. What criteria, pray tell, would they be using to determine that you lied about your “race”? The one-drop rule? The pencil test?

    It’s grossly offensive. Same deal when applying for a mortgage– you have to state your “race”. And if you don’t, the mortgage broker is supposed to fill it in for you, taking their best guess.

    This nonsense (and let’s not forget about the census) is something that Obama actually could have pushed for– toward a color-blind society.

  11. I want the ethnicity part kept on the form because I get to check multiple boxes.

    Okay, I’m easily amused.

  12. If I’m not mistaken, the 4473 doesn’t get sent to the ATF but is kept by the FFL and won’t be viewed by the ATF unless a firearm is recovered at a crime scene and traced back to the dealer. Or I suppose they conduct an audit if they think an FFL is doing something wrong. If that’s the case it seems to me that the race question is there because many people will be offended by the question and leave it blank and then they have an excuse to yank the FFL’s license if he doesn’t make sure everyone answers it.

    • You are mostly correct.

      When a FFL terminates his business, the 4473’s are boxed up and sent to the BATFE.

      Until that point, the BATFE can inspect 4473’s for both of the reasons you state:

      a) a forward trace,
      b) a records inspection

      • Yes, I knew about the requirement to send the 4473s to the ATF when the business closes. I think I’ve also heard that the dealers are only required to hang on to them for 20 years. Pretty poor way to collect data on gun owners. I suppose if they need a forward trace on a firearm they might want some semblance of a description, but they’ve got your name, social security number and I believe that every time I’ve ever bought a firearm the FFL has copied my drivers license. The only thing I can see it being used for is to persecute FFLs.

  13. Federal forms requiring you to give your “race and ethnicity”, such as the Census and the 4473, allow you to “self-identify” your race/ethnicity. When I worked on the census in 2010, we were required to tell people that they could fill in the blank with whatever race they felt they were. My favorite was the woman who put down “human” for her race. I used “mixed”, because that fits all of us and makes it harder for the politicians to gerrymander voting districts.

    Since the 4473 does not have a blank space for race/ethnicity, I used to check “Native American” (on the older forms), because hey, I was born in Ohio. Can’t get more “native” than that. Since they have changed that category to “American Indian”, and I was not born in Alaska (‘native”), I am now using “white Hispanic” to show my solidarity with George Zimmerman. Besides, some of my relatives were probably Celts or even Basques, so there is an Iberian Peninsula in my origins somewhere. I have also thought about using “Asian Hispanic”, because a fair number of my relatives came from Hungary – where Genghis Khan and his buds visited and spread a few genes.

    The key point is that the gummint does not get to tell me what race and ethnicity I am – that’s my call. And since we are all human mongrels, take your pick.

  14. Need a bill that prohibits the BATF from collecting ANY data on anyone, period. BTW, on forms that ask for my ethnic origin or ethnicity I cross out or do not mark “white” or “causasion” as that has nothing to do with ethnicity. Usually mark “other” and write in “Euro-American”. After all, why should everyone else get to pick and ethnic group except white people ? Makes no sense to me. My answer is more consistent with the intent (or logic?) of the form. OTOH, really nobody’s business either.

  15. I hate having to check African American whenever I fill one out. I’m Jamaican, not African American.

  16. There were boxes for race related stuff before Obama took office on the 4473… I don’t know why the article makes its seem like this is a new thing.

  17. I have been a law abiding gun owner for over 20 years. I also happen to be Latino. I have never had a problem purchasing a firearm until this question appeared on form 4473. Under penalty of felony charges I correctly answered question 10a. This was the first time my telephonic background check was kicked up to the next level. Coincidence? I think not!

  18. I’m Jamaican. My father is from Jamaica, on my mother’s side is French, Swedish, German (Side note: Jewish, but still denied.), and I HATE answering this question. I am in no way African-American, but I must check it, or face prosecution.

    It’s completely wrong, and should be removed.

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