Dozens of Republicans in the U.S. House recently sent a letter to the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) leadership demanding that the Biden administration rescind a recent proposal to redefine what constitutes a firearm frame and receiver.
The proposal, titled “Definition of ‘Frame and Receiver’ and Identification of
Firearms,” was signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in May, and it made the proposal eligible for consideration and public comment—and later, potential approval.
According to the ATF, “The goal of the proposed rule is to ensure the proper marking, recordkeeping and traceability of all firearms manufactured, imported, acquired and disposed by federal firearms licensees.”
Actually, the proposal goes far beyond these issues, and could very well be used to limit our Second Amendment rights.
As the aforementioned congressional letter noted, “This proposed rule is alarming and would give the ATF extraordinary power over the firearm industry. While the aim of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the ATF may be to regulate privately made firearms, the proposed rule would create overbearing marking requirements for manufacturers and give pre-approval authorization of new firearm designs to the Director of the ATF. The proposed rule exceeds the ATF’s congressionally granted authority by creating definitions for terms and concepts that do not appear anywhere in statute.”
The NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) warned Americans of the threat this proposal posed when it was leaked earlier this year, and explained that the proposed rule would create new definitions for a handful of terms, including “firearm frame or receiver,” “complete weapon,” and more.
“In addition to these changes, ATF is seeking to create an entirely new process for licensed firearm dealers to apply serial numbers to un-serialized 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,” reported NRA-ILA
The proposed changes would essentially require many manufacturers to get ATF pre-approval for new firearm designs, and ATF would have complete discretion on whether or not to approve these designs.
A1F.com also reported: “In a nutshell, the new definitions could make it possible for firearms to have more than one ‘frame or receiver,’ which is not possible at this time and at odds with the controlling federal statute. The proposed rule would also create a new marking requirement for certain Federal Firearms Licensees that … has no basis in federal statute.”
In the proposal, the ATF admitted that these changes would have a “significant impact” on companies currently selling unfinished receivers. Those companies, ATF noted, would need to “adapt.”
NRA-ILA reported on May 26 that comments are being accepted on the ATF proposed rule until August 19, 2021 by mail, fax or the Federal eRulemaking Portal at regulations.gov.