Last night, CNN reported that an NRA-connected lobbyist helped write last year’s secret ATF white paper calling for weaker regulations on silencer sales and gun dealers.
Today, video footage has emerged showing ATF official Ronald B. Turk blatantly misleading the House Oversight Committee about how the memo was drafted.
In the clip, Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) repeatedly asks Turk about the authorship of the memo, and Turk repeatedly claims to have written it himself. In reality, an NRA-connected lobbyist helped draft the memo, including adding several new sections — and new language on regulating gun silencers that was inserted almost verbatim.
The gun industry already claimed credit for writing the bill to roll back gun silencer safety laws, and now we know an NRA-connected lobbyist helped write last year’s secret ATF white paper calling for the agency to weaken regulations on silencer sales and gun dealers.
Mr. Turk should resign, and the administration should be embarrassed for doing the gun lobby’s bidding to weaken America’s gun laws.
Here’s the exchange between Rep. Demings and Turk:
REP. DEMINGS: “Mr. Turk, on February 6th of this year, The Washington Post reported on an internal ATF document dated January 20th, with the title, and I quote, ‘Options to reduce or modify firearms regulations.’ The paper stated, and I quote, ‘These general thoughts provide potential ways to reduce or modify regulations versus just changes that promote commerce and defend the Second Amendment without significant negative impact on ATF’s mission to fight violent crime and regulate the firearms industry.’ Mr. Turk, you were listed as the author of this document. Did you in fact author this document?”
TURK: “Yes ma’am, I did.”
REP. DEMINGS: “Why did you write these proposals?”
TURK: “A lot of those proposals, ma’am, were issues that had been floating around for years, from the gun industry in particular with ATF, many of which for different reasons we either couldn’t take action on or weren’t in a position to openly discuss and with the change of administration. It was our impression that we could expect from either team coming in, but particularly after the election, that we could expect a conversation about the regulations within the firearms industry. And I felt that… very important to be able to assemble the ATF executive staff to talk about key issues across the gun industry and be able to have potential positions for the bureau in place, should we be asked by the department of the administration.”
REP. DEMINGS: “So they had been floating around for years, um, so was that a proactive action on your part or were you asked to write the proposals by anyone in the transition?”
TURK: “I was not asked by anyone to write those proposals, ma’am. That was my paper product.”
And despite accepting heavy edits from a gun lobbyist, Turk hid the ball when Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) asked whose input he received on the memo:
REP. CONNOLLY: “Did you discuss this white paper with the NRA?”
TURK: “No sir.”
REP. CONNOLLY: “You had no input from the NRA?”
TURK: “No sir.”