Leaked ATF Rule Would Upend Firearm Industry
On April 20th, The Reload published what appears to be a leaked draft of an ATF proposed rule. The leaked document purports to be a proposed rule to change the regulatory definition of frame or receiver and alter federal marking requirements for firearms. The rule, if implemented, would completely upend the firearm industry by changing what parts must legally be considered a “firearm” under federal law.
The name of the proposed rule and the regulatory identifier number match a rule that was transmitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs last week, so there is reason to believe it is authentic. However, this draft may not reflect the final version that will actually be published in the federal register.
The draft rule primarily adds and alters definitions that are used to implement federal firearms laws. The new definitions make it possible for firearms to have more than one “frame or receiver.” A conclusion that is both at odds with the controlling federal statute and could disrupt the entire industry. It also creates an entirely new marking requirement for certain Federal Firearm Licensees that has no basis in federal statutes.
In effect, 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.”
Due to the discretionary scheme created by the rule, the ATF Director would be given an incredible amount of power over the firearm industry. This comes at a time when President Biden has nominated anti-gun lobbyist and gun ban proponent David Chipman to head the ATF. This draft rule is just one more reason why it’s extremely important for all gun owners to contact their Senators and ask that they vote against Chipman’s confirmation.
Once the proposed rule is actually published in the federal register (which should occur on or before May 8th) interested parties will have 90 days to submit comments. Once the rule is published, NRA will provide guidance for gun owners on how to craft an effective comment.
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