SPRINGFIELD, VA-(Ammoland.com)-When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told Representative Michael Cloud’s (R-TX) office that it held nearlyone billion out of business records, Gun Owners of America (GOA) called it an illegal gun registry. The legacy media newspaper, USA Today, issued a “fact check” stating that the claim was false. Now thanks to aFreedom of Information Act (FOIA) requestfiled by GOA and Gun Owners Foundation (GOF), we know how much of a role the ATF played in determining the rating.
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Last January, the ATF answered an inquire by Rep Cloud’s office stating that it held nearly one billion records in its Out of Business Office in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The vast majority of the records were digitized, and the ATF’s Firearms Trace Center had access to the documents. Although the ATF claims the records are not searchable by anything other than the former federal firearms licensee (FFL) name, by just selecting a few options in the software, those records could be usable by using optical character recognition (OCR).
A new FOIA request by GOA and GOF shows the communication between the USA Today fact checker, ATF’s former Chief of the Public Affairs Division, April Langwell, and former ATF Associate Deputy Director Thomas Chittum. Mr. Chittum has left the ATF to work for ShotSpotter. Ms. Langwell also recently left the ATF to work as the Director of Communications for the United States Marine Corp (USMC).
In the exchange, the unnamed fact-checker asked about the alleged registry. Ms. Langwell and Mr. Chittum denied the existence of the gun registry. Mr. Chittum replied that there was no firearms registry and handed off the conversation to Ms. Langwell. Ms. Langwell repeated the claim that the database is only searchable by FFL name. She stated that the ATF doesn’t consider the digitally scanned records to be a gun registry. The fact checker did not follow up on how easy it would be to turn on optical character recognition. The fact checker seemed to accept Ms. Langwell’s claims at face value.
Click the link to read the whole article: ATF and Legacy Media Working Together