SPRINGFIELD, VA –-(Ammoland.com)- According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the new proposed rule on unfinished frames and receivers was developed due to “numerous requests from licensees seeking clarity on how [Privately Manufactured Firearms] may be accepted and recorded.” But a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Gun Owners of America (GOA) shows that reasoning to be false.
The ATF claimed that numerous federal firearms Licensees (FFL) contacted the Bureau and asked how to handle privately manufactured firearms (PMF) they take into inventory. The word numerous can mean many different things to different people. Some might consider numerous to be three or more. To others, it starts at a much bigger number such as 300. What can be agreed on by most logically honest people is that the number must be greater than one.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines numerous as: “consisting of great numbers of units or individuals.”
GOA wanted to see what the ATF considered “numerous requests,” so the gun-rights group filed a FOIA request with the government agency. The ATF answered the request by providing the requested documents to GOA’s lawyers.
The Numerous Requests Equaled a Giant Total of One (1) Request!
The response shows that the ATF received one request from one FFL sent to one Industry Operations Inspectors (IOI), about one PMF (privately manufactured firearm) in August of 2020. The ATF could not produce any other request from FFLs about PMFs!?
This discrepancy leads to many questions. If there were “numerous requests,” then why didn’t the FOIA response contain them. The ATF either lied on the reasoning for the proposed rule change, or the ATF violated the law by not turning over all the documents that the agency legally must give to those that request them. The other possibility is that the ATF considers “numerous requests” to be one request. A distinct possibility considering past ATF decision-making, but that answer seems unlikely.
Most people do not believe that this letter inspired change. Most think that the ATF used the reasoning as an excuse to execute President Joe Biden’s gun control plan that has stalled in Congress.
If the ATF is to be believed, then the agency is changing a regulation that has been in place since 1968 over a single request from a single FFL asking about one firearm.
In April of 2021, the former Vice President issued an executive action instructing the ATF to look at regulations surrounding unfinished firearms and frames. President Biden gave the Bureau 30 days to unveil its plans for new proposed rules for what he calls “ghost guns.” The President also gave the Bureau 60 days to develop new proposed regulations surrounding pistol braces.
The ATF is using Chevron deference to change the rules and the definition of a firearm to include unfinished frames and receivers. The ATF listed the proposed rule on the Federal Register for public comment. The ATF read and cataloged the public comments. Just under 300,000 comments were received, with most opposing the rule change.
The regulations don’t appear to be imminent. The ATF started reaching out to FFLs and gunsmiths to gauge the impact on their business and figure out how long it would take to serialize all 80% kits in stock.
As for the so-called “numerous” requests, that number one more time was….ONE!
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.