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October 1, 2010

Anti-gun Opposition to ATF Reform and Firearms Modernization Act Grows


Today, the New York Times did something rather unorthodox. It ran a letter to the editor by two long-ago ATF directors that was in response to my letter to the Times published online this week. My letter responded to a Times’ editorial opposing the ATF Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009 and explained why industry supports the bill. In today’s rebuttal letter to the editor, Clinton-era ATF Director John Magaw (ATF Director 1993-99) who has been out of office for over a decade and Steve Higgins (ATF Director 1982-93), even further removed from ATF, along with two low-level former ATF agents (Joe Vince and Gerald Nunziato) took issue with NSSF support for this legislation – legislation that is supported by a bi-partisan majority in Congress.

Conspicuously absent from their letter, however, was any mention of their anti-gun affiliations. One would think this would be important information for an interested reader to have.

Steve Higgins was paid to testify against members of the firearms industry in the Hamilton and NAACP cases — both tried before liberal activist judge Jack Weinstein — which sought to drive the firearms industry out of business by blaming manufacturers for the actions of criminals. These cases were funded in part by billionaire anti-gun activists George Soros and Andrew McKelvey, the latter being benefactor of the now-defunct Americans for Gun Safety (AGS). In the NAACP case Higgins worked with anti-gun lawyer Matthew Nozanchuk from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and Sayre Weaver from the Legal Community Against Gun Violence (LCAV). Nozanchuk is now a high-ranking official in the Obama Justice Department.

As for ATF agents Joe Vince and Jerry Nuziatto, they’re partners in a company they founded immediately after they left ATF called Crime Gun Solutions, LLC. Vince and Nuziatto have been paid to testify against members of the firearms industry, including appearances in the failed “municipal litigations” brought chiefly by the Brady Center. Joe Vince served on the board of the deceptively named American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), which, like its predecessor AGA, is now defunct.

The ATF Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009 (S. 941), introduced by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), and H.R. 2296, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Zack Space (D-OH), would strike a fair balance between providing ATF with long-sought additional regulatory powers while at the same time affording licensees more rights and due process in the regulatory process. The bill would allow ATF new powers to issue fines and suspend licenses of firearms retailers (as opposed to current regulations which only allow for license revocation). The legislation would also define what a “willful” violation is and provide for revocation hearings before an administrative law judge, rather than an ATF official.

To voice your support for the ATF Reform and Firearms Modernization Act, please click here.