Application for gun buyers drawing controversy

November 10, 2012 6:29:42 AM PST
If you're like a lot of Houstonians, you either own a gun or you're planning on getting one. But some are calling the federal government's new form you have to fill out confusing and just plain racist.

At Houston Gun Forum, you can buy a handgun, long-gun, or even an assault rifle.

"They just want to be able to protect themselves and their family," the store's owner, Ryan Hansen, said.

But before you buy a gun, you have to fill out a firearms transaction record. This form has been around for years, but a new version just came out. In it, you have to answer the questions you might expect: your name, address, what kind of gun you're buying. But in this new version, race and ethnicity are separated into two different sections.

So first, you have to answer "yes" or "no" for being Hispanic or Latino. Then, you have to fill out your race. Both boxes have to be filled out for the form to be valid.

"They have to pick something from 10B, so a lot of the Hispanic people are confused because they have to choose from other races," Hansen said.

"So what do you tell them to do when they come to your store and are confused?" we asked him.

"Pick the one they like the most, like Hawaiian," he replied.

Herlinda Garcia is the district director for LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens.

"The objection I have is to being singled out in a separate box," Garcia said. "Why am I different than everybody else? You shouldn't be. We're all the same. We're all supposed to be equal, so why am I being singled out?"

The form was released by the Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. But the ATF wouldn't do an interview with us. Instead, a local spokesperson said in an email quote:

"Question 10 was revised due to an Office of Management and Budget requirement that every form issued by the federal government that collects race and ethnicity information must use separate questions wherever feasible for reporting race and ethnicity."

She goes on to say, "I can't answer why the office of management and budget instituted the changes, but ATF does require that all spaces are filled in on the 4473."

Sounds like the ATF can't explain its own form, so we went to your elected officials for answers.

"It's wrong. It has to change," Congressman Ted Poe said.

Poe owns several firearms, so he's filled out similar forms before. Even he's surprised what he sees here.

"It singles out the Hispanic community, and it discriminates against them over other races," Poe said. "But no race should be required to purchase a gun in the United States."

So, the congressman makes a promise.

"I will personally look into this and I think other members of Congress will, too. We will see what our options are," Poe said. "First option, of course, will be to tell those at the ATF to remove this from the form. If that doesn't work then we will pursue legislation to correct this."


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