February 14, 2018

Action Alert:
Tell ATF Director to Fire Compromised Leader


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On February 14, 2018, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence revealed that the associate deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Ronald Turk, had co-authored an infamous agency white paper with Mark Barnes, a lawyer who has lobbied for the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers.

When Congresswoman Val Demings asked Turk on April 4, 2017 if he was the sole author of the infamous ATF white paper promoting gun industry deregulation, he lied, saying he was.

The white paper was originally titled “Guns in America—Options for a New Administration: Secure Second Amendment Rights, Support for the Firearms Industry and the Violent Gun Crime Fight.” In it, Turk and Barnes advocate rolling back a whole litany of federal firearms regulations, including the licensing/registration system for silencers, laws that forbid gun dealers from selling handguns across states lines, and rules requiring gun dealers to maintain accurate inventories and sales records. The final version of the document was dated January 20, 2018—President Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence successfully FOIAed emails sent between Turk and Barnes, which showed that Turk sent the draft white paper to the NRA lobbyist for suggestions and edits. “If I am missing the mark on a major issue or disregarding a major discussion point any feedback you have would be appreciated,” Turk told Barnes.

Worse still, Turk was asked by Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) in sworn congressional testimony on April 2017 if he was the sole author of the white paper. He lied in repsonse, giving no indication of the NRA’s role in shaping the document (“That was my paper product,” he told her.)

Please contact ATF head Thomas Brandon through one of the channels below and give him the following message:

I was horrified to learn that ATF associate deputy director Ronald Turk consulted NRA lobbyist Mark Barnes for his suggestions and edits on a white paper, “Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations,” that was circulated internally at the agency. This is a clear violation of ethics in a country brutalized daily by gun violence. Turk has stained the reputation of the ATF by using it as a platform to “support the gun industry” and promote the NRA’s radical interpretation of the Second Amendment. jAnd for what quid pro quo? That is a question that should be investigated by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General and answered.  I call on ATF deputy director Thomas Brandon to fire Ronald Turk immediately, ahead of his announced retirement date, and send a clear message that the agency still has standards of professionalism and integrity. 

ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon
Phone: (202) 648-8500 or (202) 648-8520
Email webform: https://www.atf.gov/contact/give-us-your-feedback
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HQATF
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ATFHQ

Once you have contacted ATF deputy director Thomas Brandon, click the orange banner above to report your action!

The ATF is charged with enforcing America’s gun laws and reducing violent crime committed with firearms. Nothing could be more inappropriate and unethical than one of their leaders taking a wish list from a gun lobbyist and running it through the agency grapevine.

Ronald Turk must be fired immediately. More than 110,000 Americans are shot each year.  The enforcement of what few gun laws America has is serious business and the ATF cannot allow its public safety mission to be compromised by a gun industry mole.