Joined by Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, more than two dozen Republican House members on the Second Amendment caucus released a comment criticizing a new proposed rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that would prohibit homemade guns, develop a backdoor gun registry, and regulate gun parts with a background check.
The proposed rule, the “Definition of Frame or Receiver and Identification of Firearms” was introduced in May and signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Public comments on the rule closed Thursday.
It would amend the Code of Federal Regulations, including the term “firearm” in order to regulate firearm kits, and amend the term “gunsmith” to clarify that gunsmiths must mark unlicensed guns — effectively making the individual the manufacturer. It would implement regulations on nearly all portions of a firearm.
“Contrary to ATF’s claims that the [proposed rule] will ‘clarify’ various aspects of federal gun laws, in reality the proposed rule would inject ambiguity after ambiguity into an otherwise unambiguous definition of ‘firearm,’ which has existed unmolested since its enactment over half a century ago,” the congressmen wrote. “These changes will cause significant problems not only for the law-abiding public and the courts in trying to apply the agency’s intent instead of a statute, but also for the firearms industry.”
The rule would further complicate types of guns by crafting definitions for what ATF deems a “complete weapon,” “complete muffler or silencer device,” and a “privately made firearm.” A deadline would also be put in place for the timeframe of marking guns.
Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told The Federalist the caucus is correct in asserting its role to alert the Department of Justice and ATF as to the problematic nature of the proposed rule.
“The proposed rule redefining ‘frames and receivers’ by the Biden administration is a naked attempt at legislation through regulation,” Oliva said. “The proposed rule is an attempt to shift the goalposts and enact gun control the Biden administration knows runs counter to the will of Congress, the duly-elected representatives of the People.”
Oliva said it would bypass the lawmaking process and, “in essence allow the president to enact gun control via executive fiat. It is executive overreach. It is nothing more than a gun grab.”
The Republicans notably take issue with ATF redefining “frame or receiver.” Under the proposed rule, an “upper receiver” of an AR-15 would be deemed a “firearm” since the gun portion can be seen from the exterior.
However, ATF has always deemed the lower receiver of an AR-15 to be a “frame or receiver” since it is compromised of the fire control group: the trigger, disconnector, hammer, and fire selector. The lower receiver is the portion that is currently marked by my manufacturers with a serial number, but the upper portion would be marked as well under the new rule.
“Of course, ATF has never considered the AR-15 upper receiver to be a firearm,” the members insist. “Rather, since the rifle’s creation, the agency has opined that only the lower receiver is considered the ‘frame or receiver’ for this platform.”
ATF has the potential to move further to restrict Second Amendment rights should President Joe Biden’s director nominee, David Chipman, be confirmed in the Senate. Chipman was caught claiming on television that he is “frustrated” by the First Amendment rights of gun owners. The gun lobbyist told Congress he supports a ban on AR-15’s.
“These members of Congress are taking their oaths to uphold the Constitution seriously by standing up to the tyrants at the ATF. Their stand earns applause from gun owners nationwide,” Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America said in a statement to The Federalist.
Read the full letter below.