WASHINGTON EXAMINER - Gabe Kaminsky, Investigative Reporter - DEC 7, 2022
House Democrats vetoed a resolution demanding Attorney General Merrick Garland turn over records related to the FBI's usage of previously secret forms that waived away the gun rights of Americans.
In October, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and over a dozen GOP members of Congress urged Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide evidence that the FBI has stopped stripping people's gun rights with the forms. However, a further attempt to obtain evidence by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) was quashed on Wednesday afternoon by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.
The resolution states that Garland would be asked to provide the House "no later than 14 days" after its passage with "a complete and unredacted form" and "a copy of any documents, records, reports, memos, correspondence, or other communication either generated or received by the office of the Attorney General that refers to information" on the forms.
In addition, Garland would be asked to provide information on "how the determination to distribute the forms was made" as well as the prior "reasoning for distributing the forms."
Clyde, who introduced the resolution in November, told the Washington Examiner that Judiciary Committee Democrats have "reaffirmed their refusal to conduct proper oversight and doubled down on their disdain" for the Second Amendment.
"We desperately need this information to fully uncover the lengths to which the FBI went to circumvent the Constitution, as well as to ensure unelected, anti-gun bureaucrats do not further infringe on Americans constitutional right to keep and bear arms," said Clyde, a member of the House Oversight Committee. "I am committed to ensuring we have answers, transparency, and justice."
The resolution's introduction was the direct result of a September Daily Caller report uncovering that at least 15 Americans signed these forms between 2016 and 2019. The forms ask signatories to identify as a "danger" to themselves or others, or lacking “mental capacity adequately to contract or manage” their lives.
Gun Owners of America, a firearms rights group, obtained the signed forms as part of its ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI to compel the disclosure of records. The FBI presented the forms at people's homes and in other undisclosed locations beginning in at least 2016 and until December 2019, when the FBI says their usage was discontinued.
GOA and Second Amendment attorneys have said the very existence of the forms, which claim to register signatories into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, leave unanswered legal questions.
This includes the question of how the form is legal, given that it did not go through the standard process required under federal law for government agencies to receive public comment and approval from the Office of Management and Budget before obtaining information from the public.
In addition, it is unclear how the forms align with the Gun Control Act of 1968. The act says someone can be prohibited from owning firearms if they are "adjudicated as a mental defective or [have] been committed to a mental institution" but does not say individuals can rule themselves unfit to own guns.
The decision by Democrats not to poke Garland for records in connection to the forms comes just under a month before Republicans will have a majority in the House. Greene told the Washington Examiner in October that she intends to investigate the FBI over the forms and other agency matters.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is poised to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee next Congress, has also said he plans to investigate the FBI over its usage of the forms.
"This is part of the political nature of the Justice Department," he said previously. "So if, in fact, we win in 57 days, next Congress, we are definitely looking into the whole political nature."
House Republicans are planning a broad investigation into the alleged politicization of the FBI and Justice Department. Jordan released a 1,000-page report on Nov. 4 detailing findings on what whistleblowers have told him and other lawmakers about this phenomenon — which includes the bureau's alleged padding of domestic violent extremism data.
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the stewardship of Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, is broken," the report said. "The problem lies not with the majority of front-line agents who serve our country, but with the FBI’s politicized bureaucracy."