Obama Administration Forcing New Gun Buyers to Declare Race, Ethnicity

Kelly Riddell, Washington Times, September 16, 2014

The Obama administration quietly has been forcing new gun buyers to declare their race and ethnicity, a policy change that critics say provides little law enforcement value while creating the risk of privacy intrusions and racial profiling.

With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473–the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm–to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

The amendment is causing a headache for gun retailers, as each box needs to be checked off or else it’s an ATF violation–severe enough for the government to shut a business down. Many times people skip over the Hispanic/Latino box and only check their race, or vice versa–both of which are federal errors that can be held against the dealer.

Requiring the race and ethnic information of gun buyers is not required by federal law and provides little law enforcement value, legal experts say. And gun industry officials worry about how the information is being used and whether it constitutes an unnecessary intrusion on privacy.


ATF said the change came about because it needed to update its forms to comply with an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reporting standard put into effect during the Clinton administration. The ATF declined to comment on why race and ethnicity information are needed in the first place or what they are used for. On its prior 4473 forms, the bureau had been collecting race data.


“There is nothing [in ATF or OMB’s website links addressing the change in policy] that supports the requirement that ATF collect race-based information. The OMB guidance merely describes what categories of race should look like if information is collected,” Laura Murphy, the American Civil Liberties Union director for legislative affairs in Washington, said in an emailed statement.

In addition, Mrs. Murphy notes, the OMB guidance was supposed to be implemented by 2003; there’s no information given why ATF decided to make this change almost a decade later, she said.

“If there is a civil rights enforcement reason for the ATF to collect this data, I have not heard that explanation from ATF or any other federal agency,” said Mrs. Murphy.


The 4473 form is supposed to be kept in a gun retailer’s possession at all times–allowing ATF agents to inspect the form only during the course of a criminal investigation or during a random audit of the dealer. The form is to be kept out of the hands of the government, hence the distinction between “sales/transaction form” and “registration form.” But that isn’t always the case, gun rights advocates say.

“We’ve been contacted by several dealers saying ATF is or has been making wholesale copies of their 4473 forms, and it’s just not legal,” said Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, a gun advocacy group. “If this is what they’re doing somewhat out in the open, what’s going on behind closed doors? Are these names and demographic information getting phoned [in and] punched into a government computer? Do they ever come out?”



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  • Obongo will have a nice list of white gun owners to work off of when the day of reckoning comes. I’ve declared my ethnicity as Native American on government required paperwork at the university. One is allowed to self report. It’s not a lie. I was an american and I am a native of this clusterfreak of a country.

    Of course, if you’ve been laying out by the pool, you might be feeling a little multiracial that day. It’s important to fill out the paper completely, not leaving anything blank, or Obongo can close down a gun shop for compliance failure. That’s another way to make guns harder to come by.

    • I am willing to consider some less diabolical but still obnoxious explanations.

      Consider this from the second page of this article:

      During the time ATF revised its 4473 form to include Hispanic or Latino as an ethnicity, the Obama administration was building gun control cases by saying U.S. firearms dealers were supplying Mexican gangs with weapons and that violence related to the sales was seeping across the border. In March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico City and gave a speech against American gun stores and owners — blaming them for the drug cartels’ violence. Mrs. Clinton subsequently told CBS News that “90 percent” of the “guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and military” actually “come from America.” About a week later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the same points at a gun trafficking conference outside of Mexico City. In April, the president himself flew down to Mexico to inform President Felipe Calderon that Mr. Holder was going to review U.S. law enforcement operations, according to a 2011 report by the American Thinker. This political worldview may have fueled decision-making at ATF, Mr. Nappen suggests. Around the same time that ATF started specifying “Latino/Hispanic” on their U.S. purchasing forms, they also required border firearms dealers in Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico to start reporting multiple rifle sales. In 2012, when ATF made the Form 4473 modification, they insisted their new reporting requirement for multiple rifle sales in those border states had led to “follow-up investigations involving transactions that might indicate firearms trafficking activities.” “Was it coincidental [that] about the time the form changed the requirements came in that border states had to report multiple rifle sales, and there was a push in the antigun movement to claim American guns were arming Mexican cartels south of the border?” asked Mr. Nappen.

      IOW, peddling this meme that the American Second Amendment is ruining all these angelic Mexicans and magically turning them into drug cartel gang bangers. Of course, pay no attention to the whistleblower who informed us that Obama, Holder and Co. were practically handing guns to Mexican drug cartels. Also never mind the fact that ganging up is what Indos do; they ganged up and tribed up long before Christopher Columbus set sail.

      I think there’s another motivation. I think the Obama White House wants to set up a situation where there is data fishing for shops that have almost all white customers in case they happen to serve a black customer and the firearm that he or she purchases winds up being used in the commission of a violent crime in a far away ghetto, so that the anti-gun nuts can sue. (Jack Ryan of Occidental Dissent covered such a story last year, see the two links below.) Though if that’s what everyone is concerned about, then all that needs to happen is for the Feds and states to enact complete blanket civil immunity for firearm retailers to refuse a sale; as of now the law in that matter is pretty murky.



      • Your last sentence about the law being murky brings to mind the common sense notion that murky laws allow for selective prosecution, which is exactly what a corrupt government such as we have, wants. The ability to single out specific people for crimes while allowing others to escape the hammer is a nice thing for totalitarian despots to have.

        • Max

          Indeed, these “badass” vibrant street mutants with decades of criminal history beginning at birth are NEVER charged for violating federal statutes as prohibited persons in posession, buying across state lines, in “gun free zones” or anything else. Ever.

          It is just a set of laws like so many that the fed’s can pull out if they need to to persecute somebody they don’t like for some technical violation when they can’t hang a real crime on them.

          Just more “tools” for law enforcement as the terror evangelists like to keep parroting.

          • Black men who are convicted felons often get slapped with Federal felon in possession raps.

          • Max

            Every reference I’ve seen shows an extremely low rate of federal prosecutions for these violations and they are very capricious. Considering the thousands of felons caught with firearms, many of them stolen or modified, it is clear that only the tiniest minority are prosecuted by the feds UNLESS it is incidental to some other federal crime. They simply do not bother with state criminals.

            I will attend to any contrary data you can provide.

          • You are right. Not every felon caught with a firearm is going way for a five year Federal prison bit. Often times, the felon-in-possession rap is used as a Sword of Damocles to turn them around as stool pidgeons.

          • Who Me?

            Lady I know, lives in the Seattle area. She thought gun control laws are “a good thing, probably…” (Meaning she never really thought about it one way or the other.) She works in a “Gun Free Zone”, a nursing home.
            We were chatting about this, and I explained to her, point by point why “Gun Free Zones”, including schools and nursing homes were actually the most dangerous places of all. Being a serious and honest person, she agreed with me after having it explained to her.
            Apparently she mentioned her new-found ideas to a group of her co-workers the next day.
            She called me again that evening in a state of absolute SHOCK! Seems that 4 of her co-workers not only agreed with her, they had thought of this a long time ago, and admitted that they routinely carry concealed weapons to work–at the “Gun Free Zone.”
            She had NO idea, this was all new to her. So keep on talking to your friends and relatives–they may not know, and they will spread the word, possibly even accidentally. Every White person who carries or even owns a firearm for protection in the home is one more person on our side, and even if they never quite cross that bridge and get weapon of their own, if they believe the same way we do, they are just that much closer to us.
            You ask why? Because even if they are avowed “anti-racists” they have to think about when and if they would use that piece of metal, and they see the persons they would possibly have to use it against, and even if they claim they “don’t see color”, they do. (Oh yes, they really do!)

        • 1stworlder

          Its hard to believe my comment about the Bolsheviks being the j word got removed from here, along with the Holodomor data

      • Max

        You can be sure that in the case you cite, had the dealer refused to sell the guns to the “college kids” that he’d have been charged with racism and violating the poor upstanding young men’s civil rights under the the 2am. and the Civil Rights Act and hve his license pulled anyway.

        The dealer was “in check” no matter what course he might take.

        • Yes. Jack Ryan is one of my very favorite AR regulars and writers in our slice of the blogosphere, but as you can see on the OD thread, I (“countenance”) couldn’t completely agree with his mindset, because of the Catch-22 that above board dealers are in. I know the NRA advocates full civil immunity for dealers that refuse sales, and I think that should happen by yesterday.

        • Who Me?

          If there is one, check the (Mixed) or the (Two or More Races)box. I’m sure you can claim English and German, or Irish and Scottish, or something “mixed” can’t you? Once you check Non Hispanic Mixed, it should be smooth sailing. I’ve never had to explain that in my case “Mixed” means mostly Irish with a bit of German. It works real well if you want to be less than racially identified.

    • Sparky

      That reminded me of the infamous Janet Napolitano claiming that white gun owners, and especially returning military vets, are likely to be the next wave of terrorists.

      • Diversity Fatigue

        White Americans should be buying guns and ammo now while they still can.

        • Periapsis

          Indeed, I encourage whites I know to do precisely that.

        • bilderbuster

          They should already own them.

        • White Americans should also be buying reloading equipment and load data manuals.

  • I remember that being on the yellow 4473 forms 20 years ago.

    • Max

      They ain’t yellow any more.

      I’m surprised they *allow* them to be white.

  • connorhus

    Guess I am a Non-Hispanic Native American on that form for now on 🙂

    • Mary

      Why not? Remember, White isn’t actually a race, anyway. Merely a “social construct.”

      • Diversity Fatigue

        Right. Race doesn’t exist until its convenient.

  • MBlanc46

    All together now, “But race is a social construct!”

    • Samuel Hathaway

      As someone once said here on AR:
      Remember that, and don’t forget it.

  • dd121

    So buy your guns privately or at gun shows. I assume you don’t have all the record keeping at those venues.

    • Buying from a licensed FFL dealer anywhere, retail sporting goods store, gun show or across a kitchen table still requires the 4473 form to be filled out.

      • connorhus

        Ya you can only avoid the paperwork by buying from a private citizen, one thing they fail to mention when you hear the gun grabbers screaming about the gun show loophole. In many cases private parties are not even allowed to sell from the show floor anyway although some do allow it.

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      You have to go through an FFL for any gun purchase in California.

      • Who Me?

        There are ways of “acquiring” firearms without any of that pesky paperwork attached–of course I wouldn’t know anything about that personally, you know.

    • Max

      There are no rules about it here. Some private individuals sell/buy/swap at the shows but they are predominantly populated by tables of regular FFL’s since it is an opportunity to have lots of potential customers gawking at their goods. Almost always the best deals at the shows either way.

  • LH Burns

    I would put little to nothing past this administration so long as it works against the white race. A conservative may be interested in these stats in terms of those races committing the most crimes and how many of them are dealing in firearms, but not a leftist. The leftist would have an entirely different perspective. Something along the lines of whites “clinging to their guns and religion.”

    • Diversity Fatigue

      We are a little harder to control than our European and Australian cousins. We still have our rights to free speech and to keep and bear arms. I am sure this gives Big Sis fits. They want us unarmed and mouths closed big time.

      • Periapsis

        It’s worse than that, they want us disarmed then dead.

        • 1stworlder

          Or like the jewish Bolsheviks have everything stolen then die to starvation in between.

    • Cecil Broomsted

      I cling to my guns and religion as much as possible.

      • Max

        Are you bitter too?

        • Black Swan

          Who wouldn’t be after the takeover of the U.S. and other White countries by anti-White cultural Marxists whose goal it is to destroy White homelands via mass 4th world immigration and wipe out the White Race.

          Damn right I’m bitter.

          David Irving said it best: “If the British (or American) soldiers who went up the beaches of Normandy could see what would become of their people and country, they would not have advanced another 40 yards up the beach.”

          • Who Me?

            Bitter? Of course we’re bitter. We’ve lost our country, our traditional way of life, our jobs, our culture and are in very real danger of going extinct. Yeah, we’re bitter and the wonder of it all is that even the great mulatto usurper in the white house can see it.

          • Max

            I felt that it would be important to use His Hopefulness’ official terminology: bitter clingers.

          • WR_the_realist

            David Irving hit that nail on the head. Who would have fought Hitler if the purpose of that had been, as the liberals now insist, to ensure that whites would become minorities in all their countries?

      • WR_the_realist

        Heck, I’m an agnostic and I still hope whites will cling to their guns and religion.

  • Anglokraut

    It’s really difficult to get a gun, or even time at the range, if you have been treated for depression. The assumption is that any person treated for depression must be considered a suicide risk.

    I wonder if there is any correlation between people who seek treatment for depression and being White in post-1965 America?

    • Black Swan

      It’s really difficult to get certain types of bullets now, especially.22 ammo.

      If the feds can’t confiscate our guns, and make no mistake, they are trying to do just that, they can make it difficult or impossible to get ammo.

      • Who Me?

        The 2nd acknowledges out right to have and bear arms, There is no mention of the right to have ammo. I’m about half convinced that this is the wedge they will eventually use to disarm us all.
        “Sure, ladies and gentlemen. buy ALL the guns you want. You can use them to hit your attackers over the head.” (Followed by evil cackle.)

        • WR_the_realist

          The usual gun grabbers have made no secret of their desire to tax ammo at extortionate rates. The current administration has taken the alternative route of simply having various government agencies buy up all the bullets.

  • Cecil Broomsted

    Isn’t it hard to find 10mm ammunition these days?

    • Garrett Brown

      Not at all. It’s actually one of the easiest. Any store around here I frequent always has a surplus of 10. My dad has been stocking up, he’s partial towards the G20 and 27.

      • Mark

        I just got my Colt Delta Elite. Fantastic pistol and fantastic caliber! Look at the ballistics.

        • Garrett Brown

          I was thinking about purchasing one, probably the finest pistol you can get in 10mm that isn’t extremely rare.

  • DNA Explains It All

    Build your own or buy from individuals, I would never in a million years want another “official” gun.

    • If you build a firearm, the usual rules apply: if a rifle, it must have a barrel at least 16″ long, if a shotgun, a barrel at least 18″ long, and either must be at least 26″ long overall.

      It must also have a serial number on it. You can get a number and letter metal punch set at Home Depot. The serial number could be something like 00001XYZPDQWTF, but some sort of individual identifying mark must be there.

      • DNA Explains It All

        The marking/numbering thing is only a rule if you sell it.

  • Lion’s Mane

    First we’re told incessantly that “Race doesn’t matter” and even that “Race doesn’t exist.” Now, it’s mandatory to use such identity in purchasing a gun? OF COURSE it’s an ‘invasion of privacy’! The obvious purpose is to monitor the White Population in regard to how poorly- or well- armed it is. Why the need? It’s obvious that the government doesn’t want White citizens to have the means of self-defense. This strongly suggests that they have a very real and specific sinister agenda against the White Population. They want Whites unarmed and defenseless — which means that they fear Whites because they intend harm to them.

    One thing’s clear: this government certainly does not believe in Racial Equality and political Colorblindness. This is unlawful aggression against White America.

    • Jo

      “The obvious purpose is to monitor the White Population in regard to how poorly- or well- armed it is.”

      You hit the nail on the head!

    • Black Swan

      Actually, it’s been on the form for years, going back at least until 2005. It’s been tweaked because of Hispanic “ethnicity,” that’s all. Asking for race to purchase a gun is not new.

  • The Worlds Scapegoat

    I have to report my race when I buy a gun in California. I tried not putting it down, but they wouldn’t sell me the gun. The only thing I don’t have to put down is my social security number. You know, the thing that is the easiest to make sure your are legal.


  • obot

    check off the wrong box

  • dave

    Check off Non-Hispanic Native American. We are the true Native Americans to the US.

  • MekongDelta69

    If I get another weapon, I’m checking off all the boxes. I kid you not.

    You want to play games with me. I’ll play games with you….

  • Kenner

    If you live on Santa Catalina, are you a Pacific Islander?

  • Alex Dihes

    I am a white, but… only skin deep. If I plunge deeper I am a proud racist.

  • Alexandra1973

    This way they’ll know who to grab guns from. Hint: Not the groups actually responsible for most of the gun crime.

    • bilderbuster

      Most of theirs are stolen anyways.

      • Black Swan

        Blacks can say they need guns to protect themselves against Whites, so they don’t end up like Trayvon or Michael Brown. The feds believes this too, after all “homegrown terrorists” aren’t blacks who attack and knockout Whites with one punch, the federal definition of terrorist is Whites who support the Second Amendment.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Can’t let the wrong color people get their hands on guns.

    Sept. 16, 2014:

    BREAKING: Obama Calls For More Gun Control On the Anniversary of Navy Yard Shooting

    “Today is the anniversary of the Navy Yard Shooting in which 12 people were shot and killed. The White House has marked the occasion by releasing a statement from the president calling for more gun control.”

    Today, we must do the same – rejecting atrocities like these as the new normal and renewing our call for common-sense reforms that respect our traditions while reducing the gun violence that shatters too many American families every day.

    Let’s hope the Dems push for gun control measures before the midterm elections.

  • Reverend Bacon

    Looks like they’re setting the stage for more divisiveness. They will discover– surprise– that blacks don’t buy guns legally, so by the law of disparate outcomes, gun stores are racist. (So are tanning salons, but whatever.) This will be used to prove that guns only stop black crime, or only protect whites from violent blacks, as opposed to protecting everyone from violent blacks. By the principle of “redistribution of everything that doesn’t suck,” they will say that if blacks can’t get guns, no one can. Or, they will show that the felony convictions owned by 1/3 of black males hold them back, so they should be able to have a gun.

  • TheCogitator

    What is to stop a person from checking whatever race they wish? Since blacks are in favor, what is to stop a white person from declaring he is black? After all race is just a social construct.

    • Fair Dinkum

      Check Indian, instead. It’s a lot harder to disprove. Hell, blonde, blue-eyed Elizabeth Warren got away with it.

    • Leon NJ

      I’m a white dude named Leon. I could declare I’m black and the government would be none the wiser. For all I know, they would give me a tax break thinking I’m a black man trying to protect myself from those blue eyes devils.

    • Tim

      I would imagine it is a Felony to lie on a Federal form. Especially a gun form.

      • WR_the_realist

        If i check off black, prove I’m lying. Race is just a social construct, after all. Our government has no definition of a person’s race other that what he says it is.

  • OS-Q

    As Frank Zappa foretold, Obama has become “The Central Scrutinizer” whose duty is to enforce all the laws that haven’t been passed yet. The Constitution will be phased out to accommodate THE FUTURE.

    The laws must be made unclear so that anyone can be a criminal, and when anyone can be a criminal, everyone is a criminal.

    When everyone is a criminal, we will all be equal.

    • bilderbuster

      Everyone won’t be a criminal.
      Whites are the criminals.

      • Black Swan

        It is beyond obvious that this is directed at Whites and ONLY Whites.

        I’m surprised none of the gun organizations haven’t filed lawsuits against this breach of privacy.

        • bilderbuster

          Don’t hold your breath waiting on the NRA.
          When responding to the accusation that the NRA was “racist” Charlton Heston went all self righteous boasting how he was marching on the front lines with MLK in 1965 blah…blah… blah…

    • jim

      From Joe’s Garage….

    • WR_the_realist

      The Constitution has already been phased out to accommodate THE PRESENT.

  • One can only think this could evolve into oral swabs and
    or tissue samples to verify race.. The Bill of Rights shredders
    will never end the illegal attempts to confiscate guns …

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Hey, B. Hussein O — here’s the deal… you declare your actual birthplace first. Then we will talk about whether or not there ought to be a gun registry (confiscation registry?) by race.


      Gun confiscation! I could be wrong, but in my mind there can be no other logical reason to have every gun owner in the country on a National registry. Things get even shadier when 2 known racist at the head of the Government ( Obama and Holder ) also want to know the racial make up of America’s legal gun owners.

  • dmxinc

    Ayn Rand warned of this in Atlas Shrugged.

    Law abiding citizens can’t be controlled but criminals can be. Their goal is to make every citizen a “criminal.”

  • Tim

    Tim`s form for vintage Luger and P-38 purchase…. “Race? -MASTER…”

  • MooTieFighter

    I see this benefitting blacks, disproportionately. So many murders will reveal that the gun found/involved was owned by a white at one time. Despite the fact that the gun was stolen, resold etc… it will be highlighted that it was once owned by a white. Whites are more likely to register their weapons, so again, it will be that the facts are twisted in future cases. The perfect example of this now is “Hate Crimes”. Hate crimes are usually reserved for blacks and gays as white slaughter is written up as “robbery gone wrong” etc..,; however, these stats are now being quoted as blacks are disproportionately being killed, when we all know this is the opposite of the truth, but if you look up under “hate crime” it will appear to even out, despite the greatly disproportionate black on black and black on white murders. Unfortunately, our government is making law abiding citizens look bad while diverting attention from criminals.

    • DiversityIsDeath

      Exactly! That immediately flashed through my mind too. What started out as a legally purchased gun by whitey and ends up down the road as a mud criminal’s crime weapon will be laid at whitey’s door. Can’t you just imagine all the fun liberals and white-haters and anti-gunners will have with this? That’s the intentionof this new law– to smear white folks with the crimes of minorities. Very clever.

  • Black Swan

    Lying on that form is a felony.

    • WR_the_realist

      Who is lying? According to the best scientific researchers in human origins all my ancestors came from Africa.

  • DiversityIsDeath

    And who is to say that those self-identifying declarations are accurate? Anyone can claim to be any race or ethnicity they want, just for spite. As a White Euro Christian woman, I might just check off Asian or Hispanic just for kicks, just to keep the authorities from hassling me as a white woman. Or a black or brown might check off “White” just to make our race llok bad.

  • People could get all sorts of cute answering the “race” question back in the day when it was a blank that needed to be filled in on the 4473, rather than check-boxes.

    At various times, on various bits of paperwork from various agencies, I have answered:
    100-Yard Dash
    White Devil

    Check-boxes don’t offer much opportunity for creativity.

  • WR_the_realist

    I always list myself as black on such forms. There’s absolutely no downside to the government thinking you’re black, and plenty of upside. If Obama thought most gun buyers were black, he’d oppose gun restrictions.

    Make sure to be black in the next census. Otherwise the government might decide that your neighborhood needs diversifying.