FIRST ON FOX: A gun rights organization's new report on the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) accuses the agency of creating an "illegal gun registry" with a new rule as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes aim in Congress.

Gun Owners of America (GOA), a gun rights advocacy group, blasted the ATF for their "illegal gun registry" in their new report on the finalized rule requiring federal firearms licensees (FFLs) to maintain purchase records indefinitely.

The group’s report on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requested documents revealed the ATF "is maintaining a digital, searchable, centralized registry of guns and gun owners in violation of various federal prohibitions."


Joe Biden

Gun rights groups have been critical of the Biden administration's position on the Second Amendment.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

"In November of 2021, an internal ATF memo leaked by Gun Owners of America revealed that ATF had processed and digitized over 50,000,000 ‘out of business’ records of gun dealers in FY 2021," the report reads. "This report was picked up by major pundits and news outlets, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and the Blaze."

GOA wrote in their report that the "ATF has reached a point where it has converted nearly one billion records (required to be kept by FFLs) into a single, centralized, and searchable national gun registry, that is routinely searched by multiple data fields (except, reportedly, by gun owner name)."

"While ATF and others maintain this does not constitute a gun registry, and that all relevant statutes and restrictions are being adhered to, the information referenced in this section, revealed in a FOIA response by ATF to Gun Owners of America, proves otherwise," the report continues, pointing out that the "ATF maintains only that registry records in their final file format are not searchable by name."

Ted Cruz speaks at CPAC

Sen. Ted Cruz says he introduced "the No REGISTRY Rights Act to require the ATF to delete all of their existing transaction records before they can be used against law-abiding Americans."  (AP Photo/John Raoux)

"What ATF does not mention, however, is that throughout its processes to digitize and consolidate records, the records are received from dealers and maintained by ATF in fully searchable formats (including by name). Moreover, ATF’s centralized database, even in its final form, is fully searchable by text for any of a variety of other factors (just not by name, supposedly)."

"What is more, it appears the only reason ATF’s registry is not searchable by name is because ATF has merely disabled the ability for its software to search that particular record field. Of course, something that is so easily disabled could be easily re-enabled," the report added. "In other words, this terrifying and legally prohibited power resides at ATF’s fingertips, and American gun owners are merely relying on the agency’s promise that it is not and will not abuse that power."

Federal law before the rule required federally-licensed gun stores to hold onto purchase records for a minimum of 20 years. The new rule prevents FFLs from destroying the purchase records should they so choose.

GOA director of federal affairs Aidan Johnston told Fox News Digital that their report establishes "proof" that the Biden administration ATF is "openly" creating a backdoor federal gun registry through their finalized new rule.

"After years of ATF and the Biden administration telling Americans that there is no national gun registry, we have proof that shows that Biden’s ATF is openly doing just that by illegally obtaining and compiling a complete record of all firearm purchases," Johnston said. "These actions are not only an abuse of power, but explicitly violate several federal laws."

The GOA report calls the rule an "illegal gun registry" and points out that the move violates federal gun laws, such as "the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, which prohibits ‘any rule or regulation’ from being newly enacted to require records be transferred to the government."

GOA also warned that "every Firearms Transaction Record kept forever, these forms will eventually become out-of-business records and permanently end up in ATF’s illegal gun registry of every commercially transferred firearm in the United States."

"The Biden Administration would create a complete national gun registry, to supersede ATF’s existing partial national gun registry, and would require that more records be kept on government property," the report reads, calling for congressional action. "Gun Owners of America is currently preparing a lawsuit to halt the implementation of this illegal gun registry expansion. But litigation can be a slow process, and the threat of tyranny is around the corner."


ATF accused of creating gun registry

Gun Owners of America has accused the ATF of creating an "illegal gun registry" with a new rule. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Second Amendment sentinels in Congress are already taking aim at the newly finalized rule, with Cruz introducing the Senate companion bill to Rep. Michael Cloud’s, R-Texas, legislation, the No Retaining Every Gun In a System That Restricts Your (REGISTRY) Rights Act.

The act would require the ATF to destroy all existing firearm purchase records currently in their possession. It would also require FFLs who are closing their doors permanently to destroy their purchase records, as well.

Cruz told Fox News Digital that the "Biden administration has managed to politicize and weaponize almost all of our federal agencies against conservatives – and it’s time we take a stand."

"We cannot allow Joe Biden and the radical leftists in his administration to establish a permanent gun registry they can use to target Americans they see as their opponents for exercising their Second Amendment rights," Cruz said.

"That’s why I’m proud to introduce the No REGISTRY Rights Act to require the ATF to delete all of their existing transaction records before they can be used against law-abiding Americans," the Texas senator continued.

Cloud told Fox News Digital that a "federal firearms registry is explicitly banned by law" and gave props to GOA for their FOIA request of the ATF.

"Thanks to Gun Owners of America’s FOIA request, it has become abundantly clear that ATF has illegally built a centralized, and even searchable, firearms database," Cloud said. "It is now more important than ever for Congress to pass my No REGISTRY Rights Act to delete these records and protect the Second Amendment."


An ATF spokesperson told Fox News Digital that it "would be inappropriate for us to comment on proposed legislation."

However, the spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s follow-up email with questions regarding the gun record database.