Mike does a great job covering the topic in his video.
But here’s the short version via text.
The ATF and all government agencies are prohibited from establishing a firearms database by the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986. That was one of the concessions gun owners actually won as the FOPA was a walk back of the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA) that more egregiously targeted gun owners than even the National Firearms Act.
They all suck. But the Gun Control Act sucked a lot. The Firearm Owners Protection Act undid some of the suck but added some new suck too, like closing the NFA registry to automatics creating an insane market for “transferables” despite no solid evidence machineguns were more dangerous than a revolver packed in a coat pocket. Machineguns were already NFA items, special tax, long waits, market curbed and only for the affluent.
Enough on that.
.Gov isn’t supposed to make a gun database.
However, the ATF takes possession of FFL records, 4473’s, for any FFL that goes out of business for any reason. They have also been digitizing these records into a ‘database’ that totally isn’t a database of guns and gun owners, they promise. It is simply a base, of data, on out of business FFL firearm transaction records that just so happen to have the names and addresses of owners with the firearm makes and models they own.
Seems awfully like a firearm owner database to me… Is the excuse that it isn’t an ownership database that it couldn’t possibly be complete or accurate? It isn’t actually an owner list since not all FFL’s are out of business and people move and sell guns? It just so happens to have all the information an owner list would have and is the closest thing, ostensibly allowable, to one under the terms of the Firearm Owners Protection Act.