Our friends at veteran-owned Right to Bear Arms and Supply LLC, Gun Owners of America, the NRA-ILA and other Second Amendment advocates have alerted us to the urgency of
commenting on the ATF’s plan to redefine what constitutes a gun.
As the team at Right to Bear pointed out in a recent email, this new “definition” opens the door for the ATF to start regulating much more than just “GHOST GUNS”. The proposal seems to target almost all rifle and pistol parts with a common use of the term "READILY BE CONVERTED" to describe what may be redefined and regulated.
"Readily" is defined by the ATF as "A process that is fairly or reasonably efficient, quick, and easy, but not necessarily the most efficient, speedy, or easy process." The ATF also defines "readily" by eight factors "with no single one controlling" including time, ease, expertise, equipment, availability of additional necessary parts, expense, scope, and feasibility.
This can include the regulation of the following: 80% lower receivers, upper receivers, pistol slides, build kits, jigs, barrels, etc. It is purposefully ambiguous, which gives ATF the freedom to unilaterally determine whatever it wants about what defines a firearm without concrete standards. It gives them the power to, at any time, declare almost any part, tool or accessory, a regulated firearm.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) Senior Vice President Erich Pratt echoed that concern, saying, “The proposed rules by Biden’s Justice Department seek to add undue burdens on homebuilt firearms. Forcing purchasers of unfinished chunks of metal and plastic to undergo a background check from a broken NICS system is simply asinine. Just as with other forms of gun control, these regulations will leave honest people with one less method for self-defense but will be completely ignored by criminals.
“Just as GOA opposed the ATF’s actions on bump stocks, we will continue to rally gun owners for public comments against the proposed rule — and should it go into effect — this Second Amendment assault will be met with legal action from GOA and our Foundation.”
Please take a moment to watch the videos below and learn how you can make a formal comment to express your concerns. Every comment counts and will have a potential impact.
In addition to the changes noted above, the NRA-ILA pointed out the ATF is seeking to create an entirely new process for licensed firearm dealers to apply serial numbers to unserialized firearms that come into their possession and to require the indefinite storage of firearm records by licensees.
These new definitions would give ATF arbitrary authority to classify firearms in a way that could make it difficult or impossible for the firearm industry to operate. “the rule would mean that many manufacturers would need to get pre-approval from ATF for new firearm designs. To put it another way, the draft takes 107 pages to say ‘we’ll know it when we see it.’” And, despite effectively requiring this pre-approval, ATF notes that “ATF’s decision whether to classify an item voluntarily submitted is entirely discretionary.”
Creating arbitrary and unlawful new standards for firearm manufacturers while claiming that ATF has no obligation to actually reply to manufacturers who attempt to comply with the new standards is the very type of “arbitrary and capricious” rulemaking that the Administrative Procedures Act was enacted to eliminate.
J.D. Tuccille, in an excellent article on this subject for Reason, observed “the current market for firearms kits and 80 percent receivers evolved in response to earlier ATF rules. Demand for the kits largely exists among people who oppose legal restrictions. The proposed revisions are part of an ongoing game of whack-a-mole between government officials and gun enthusiasts.”
We urge CHQ readers and friends to comment on this proposed rule through the ATF’s online comment tool. Here are several points worth including in your comments, which should be succinct, professional and civil:
Congress originally defined what is or is not a gun’s receiver or frame. This is firmly set in law, and what this rule attempts to do is to circumvent the legislative process and redefine frame or receiver without Congressional approval.
The proposed rule is arbitrary and capricious in that it fails to set forth a clear and concise definition of a firearm that will allow a citizen to understand what is or is not a firearm; see the U.S. Supreme Court in Connally v. General Construction Co. (1926), a law is unconstitutionally vague when people “of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning.”
The term “readily completed” is likewise unconstitutionally vague, arbitrary and capricious.
The standard set forth on when a partially complete frame or receiver parts kit has reached a stage in manufacture where it may readily be completed, assembled, converted, or restored to a functional state, and is thus a “frame or receiver” that must be marked is likewise unconstitutionally vague, arbitrary and capricious.
The proposed rule attempts to rewrite the statute as opposed to exercise regulatory authority and thus exceeds the authority granted the ATF by the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Even if you have never built a gun from a kit and have no interest in so doing this is another infringement of the Second Amendment that must be resisted with every legal means at our disposal – starting with flooding the ATF with succinct, professional and civil comments making our case. And go to Right to Bear Arms and Supply LLC, for kits, jigs, 80% lowers and other shooting sports needs.
Gun Owners of America
Right to Bear Arms and Supply, LLC
What constitutes a gun
Readily be converted
Assault weapons bans