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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:00 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:38 am
Posts: 118
Location: Northern Virginia, USA submitted a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to the Department of Justice concerning the ATF multi-rifle registration scheme. There were approximately 700 pages of responsive data, roughly 1/3 were DOJ email responses to those who commented. Here are some examples of comments submitted to ATF in response. wants to thank all of the people who took the time to submit their comments by phone, fax, email or letter opposing this extra-legal act by ATF.

Useful comments Not so useful comments
Copies of NSSF comments; addressed points of necessity, questioned legality. Many commenters, among whom FFLs were largely represented echoed sentiments put forward by NSSF "Forget the idea of GUN CONTROL!!! Don't try to overthrough(sic) the 2nd. Amendment for any reason or ideology. The citizens of this country will STAND and FIGHT. NO LIBERAL AGENDA!!!!! We will vote you out soon !!! It will go to the Supreme Court. Forget you COMMIE ideas NOW!!!"
Copies of suggested comments. Addressed lack of emergency status, questionable legality on numerous fronts. There was no discernible pattern to these comments, they came from varying locations. These were socialized via blogs, internet forums and email. "The US Constitution prevents assholes like you from making laws. This BS about your requirement for FFLs to reprot to you sales of more than 2 rifles is, under the Constitution and the precedent set by the Writers of the Constitution 'null and void'. Sorry Charlie but you don't make the rules!"...
Mexican drug lords with millions of dollars aren't getting their bazookas from the USA"Reporting multiple long gun sales? Absolutely NO! Not legal or constitutional. There is NO emergency".

These are but a few examples of comments submitted in opposition to the proposed ATF action to collect owner & firearm information on rifle sales. Some of the comments were very heartfelt - "I wouldn't be able to fulfill my promise to buy my three daughters their .22 rifles without being put into a database or watch list". Some very simple and plain spoken in opposition. These are effective at expressing the sentiment of opposition, however in the Federal Register DOJ asked for specific points to be addressed.

Why are some of the comments not as useful? When the Federal Register published ATF's information collection request, it listed 4 criteria that comments should be focused on. In addition, any regulatory action by an agency must not violate any constitutional or statutory laws. The 4 criteria listed for comments were:
  • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the agencies estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

It helps for comments to address the points raised in the federal register or the supporting documentation, specifically if possible.

By the time something makes it into the Federal Register there are hundreds of hours of preparation & work behind it, and there is an institutional momentum to approve it. However, part of that process is to address public comments, and particularly those which call into question the legality of the act, whether the regulation trenches upon a constitutionally protected liberty, violates statutory law, or infringes upon the public liberty when there is a less intrusive option available that would accomplish what is needed.

Don't go off the rails in commenting. If you're commenting on a gun issue then stay focused on guns, right to keep and bear arms, and the laws associated with the regulation.

Professional, personal or personalized comments which show an impact to you the author and call into question the legality will have the most impact on regulatory actions.

Dave Yates

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