By Tim Devaney - 04/14/15 01:20 PM EDT
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) could no longer collect racial data for gun transactions under new legislation in the House.
Gun dealers are currently required to report information about the race and ethnicity of people who purchase firearms. The ATF has been collecting this information for several years, though the agency has maintained it never compiled it in any database.
But the Freedom From Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates (FIREARM) Act reintroduced late Monday by Reps. Diane BlackDiane BlackFight brews over forcing library to use ‘illegal alien’ Watchdog: Group broke federal law escorting women to abortion clinics Backlash to Tubman decision limited, isolated MORE (R-Tenn.) and Ted PoeTed PoeSaudis scramble for Washington allies The Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Healthcare: Justices split on ObamaCare contraception case MORE (R-Texas) would strike down this controversial policy.
“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."
The ATF made changes to Form 4473 in 2012, according to the lawmakers, requiring gun dealers to submit information about the race and ethnicity of their customers.
Gun dealers that fail to comply with the new requirements could face penalties from the ATF, the lawmakers say.
Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntFinancial industry spars with retailers over data breach bill The Hill's 12:30 Report Senate approves Zika funds MORE last fall criticized the controversial policy in a letter to then ATF Director Todd Jones and asked whether the information about a person's race has ever been used to block someone from purchasing a gun.
“The constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has nothing to do with race or ethnicity,” Blunt wrote at the time. “It is disconcerting that the U.S. government is gathering this type of data on citizens when there is no connection between purchasing a firearm and an individual’s race or ethnicity."
Black originally introduced the legislation in the last Congress but is now reintroducing it in a more gun-friendly Congress controlled by Republicans.
“Law-abiding citizens should never have to play 20 questions with Uncle Sam just to access their fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” Black said in a statement.
“As a gun owner myself, I know that this is not only a Second Amendment concern, but also a privacy concern,” she added. "The government has no legitimate reason to collect this information in the first place."