February 13, (Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) announced the reintroduction of the ATF Improvement and Modernization (AIM) Act. The bill would improve and modernize the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to better equip the Bureau to crack down on gun violence and the illegal use of firearms.
“For years the gun lobby and its allies in Congress have complained that ‘we should just enforce existing laws’ even as they hollowed out the federal agency charged with enforcing them. As gun violence continues to ravage our communities and claim American lives, it is critical that Congress give the ATF the tools it needs to make American communities safer,” said Representative Beyer. “Our legislation, the AIM Act, would take a commonsense approach to remove barriers that hamper the ATF’s mission to prevent criminals from acquiring and using guns. I appreciate Senator Van Hollen, Congressman Raskin, and the gun violence prevention leaders who worked with us to craft this important bill, and urge my colleagues to support it.”
“Horrific mass shootings and the continuing loss of life from day-in-day-out gun violence are shredding the social contract,” said Representative Raskin. “Congress should act immediately to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and empower our brave ATF agents to keep our communities safe. I’m thankful to my colleague Congressman Don Beyer for leading this effort to strengthen the ATF as it works to clamp down on criminal organizations and lethal firearms trafficking.”
The AIM Act was recently reintroduced in the Senate by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
The AIM Act is supported by Brady: United Against Gun Violence, Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, March for Our Lives, and Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.
“One of the major causes of American gun violence is the unique and unprecedented protections from oversight that the gun industry has been provided,” said Brady President Kris Brown. “The ATF Improvement and Modernization Act will allow ATF to more effectively and efficiently oversee the corporate firearms industry and hold accountable those actors who are engaging in negligent, irresponsible, or illegal business practices which fuel the criminal gun market. Brady is proud to endorse this legislation and applauds Sen. Van Hollen and Rep. Beyer for their leadership on this issue.”
The AIM Act would remove irresponsible statutory restrictions that stand in the way of ATF’s mission to protect the public from violent criminals, criminal organizations, and the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, and provide support to law enforcement and public safety partners in communities nationwide. The bill modernizes ATF processes to support law enforcement officials tracing firearms involved in crimes. A recent DOJ ATF Report on the proliferation of crimes guns found that ATF received more than 1.9 million crime gun trace requests, a 64% increase in requests, between 2011 and 2021. Annual budget allocations and overall staffing levels for ATF's National Tracing Center (NTC) notably decreased during the same period.
Permitting ATF to consolidate and centralize the records it receives from firearms dealers will improve its current non-searchable system, which unnecessarily stalls criminal investigations. As a consequence of a centralized, searchable digital database, law enforcement will be better able to detect patterns that indicate gun trafficking. The AIM Act also allows the FBI to maintain background check information longer than the current 24-hour limit. This change helps to deter fraud and facilitate firearms retrieval actions if the agency learns, after the fact, that a gun sale was improper.
The bill enhances ATF’s capability to crack down on “bad apple” gun dealers. Permitting stricter compliance requirements and reforming the rules governing federal license revocation will ensure that firearms dealers comply with laws and regulations that protect the public from dangerous weapons. Lastly, the AIM Act will make ATF more responsive to the public, including journalists, researchers, and potential litigants, whose access to ATF gun trace data is currently restricted.
The text of the AIM Act is available here.