GOP lawmakers push to stop ATF from asking gun buyers about race

Congressional Republicans are pushing a bill to block the feds from forcing gun buyers to disclose their race in applications, saying the government should be "color blind" when it comes to the Second Amendment.

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.”

The bill was introduced last week and is sitting before the House Judiciary Committee. So far, it has 11 co-sponsors.

"Law-abiding citizens should never have to play 20 questions with Uncle Sam just to access their fundamental rights to keep ad bear arms," Black said.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups say they are on board with Black’s push to change the law.

Others, like Michael Hammond, legislative counsel at Gun Owners of America, went a step further.

“Am I accusing the ATF of racism?” Michael Hammond, legislative counsel at Gun Owners of America, told The Hill. “You’re absolutely right I am.”

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.”