The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 quietly amended its Form 4473 to force gun buyers to identify as either Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander, or white.
The Washington Times reports that according to legal experts, requiring gun buyers to identify their race and ethnicity "is not required by federal law and provides little law enforcement value." Furthermore, gun industry officials worry about whether asking for the extra information creates "the risk of privacy intrusions and racial profiling."
Evan Nappen, a private practice firearms lawyer in New Jersey, told the Times that if there's no apparent need for an amendment, "then there's usually a political reason for the change... not law enforcement reasons."
ATF says the change was made to comply with Office of Management and Budget reporting standards put into place during the Clinton administration years ago, but failed to report what the information on race and ethnicity is used for or why it's needed.
Many gun retailers, meanwhile, are struggling to accommodate with the new rules, because if the form is not filled out to completion (many applicants skip over one or more race-related sections), the dealer can face punishment from the ATF for a federal error.