Wednesday, April 21, 2021

ATF Proposed Rulemaking on 80% Firearms Leaked

The Federal Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, require agencies changing Federal laws to go through a process.  That process requires the agency present a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to anyone interested in the change, allowing 60-90 days for comments.  After some period of reviewing the comments and typically allowing some period for commenters to respond, the agency then announces the ruling and any changes made in a Report and Order.  In today's NSSF Ammoland News, they report on a leaked copy of the draft NPRM for the BATFE's rules for so-called Ghost Guns. The document is on Scribd, can be read from the article or downloaded.

The Ammoland article summarizes it this way:
According to the report, any random part that the user could “readily” convert into a firearm would be subject to ATF regulations. As in the past, the document doesn’t define what the term “readily convertible” means. This term could be that any block of metal could be “readily convertible” into a firearm. In fact, the document shows that the ATF used a court case where it took the user eight hours to covert a kit into a gun. The document does highlight the need for a complete machine shop, and qualified workers to complete a firearm would not fall under the proposed rules.
That last sentence leaves out home hobbyists with a reasonably good shop but with no "qualified workers" working for us, leaving us in limbo.  Many of us could make an AR-15 lower from a hunk of raw aluminum bar, but using metal that's already part way toward a finished receiver, like say, an 80% lower, next year's 50% lower, or a "0%" forging simply means our shops can generate fewer ounces of metal chips and finish faster.  

Inadvertently, the BATFE shows just how small this problem is. 
The document makes claims that in the past four years that so-called “ghost guns” have been used in 325 homicides. Their definition of homicide includes justified killings as in self-defense. It does not separate out murders from the total homicides. Even if all 325 homicides included in the report were murders, this number is incredibly small. There are approximately 17,000 murders per year in the United States and that averages out to 46 murders per day. The reported small number they are trying to tie to so-called “ghost guns” highlights that there is not a problem.
Note that they're claiming 325 homicides in four years.  Out of the 17,000 murders per year, they're worried about 41? 

A website new to me, called The Reload, offers an interesting take that Ammoland doesn't go near.
The document also proposes the creation of a definition for “privately made firearms,” which would apply to any gun without a serial number made by somebody who doesn’t have a federal gun-making license. Making guns at home for personal use with devices like 3D printers will not be affected by the definition. However, any privately made firearm sold to a licensed gun dealer would be required to be permanently marked with a serial number by the dealer before it could be sold.
When I made my AR-15 from an 80% lower, I added a serial number that meant essentially nothing; I just figured it was easier to engrave a number than to explain to a potential Officer Friendly in a traffic stop why my gun didn't have a serial number.

I've downloaded the draft NPRM.  It's likely to change before it's released, and it's 107 pages long so I haven't had the time to read the whole thing yet.  One thing I noticed in the few pages I've read is that they seem to be trying to address that nasty little problem they have that an AR-15 lower doesn't match the legal definition of a receiver they're working to, and has made the BATFE drop cases they've been involved in.  Back to The Reload:
The document also lays out plans to broaden and update the federal definition of firearms receiver to correct a problem with the ATF’s interpretation of the current definition. Courts have begun questioning the ATF’s long-running determination that an AR-15 lower is a receiver despite not including several of the parts required in the current definition. Prosecutors have been forced to drop cases involving the ATF’s determination in recent years.

The ATF admitted in the document that “neither the upper nor the lower portion of a split/multi-piece receiver firearm alone falls within the precise wording of the regulatory definition” but lashed out in the document at the “erroneous district court decisions” that employ a “narrow interpretation” of the definition.
I've got to admit that seeing ATF incensed at courts for reading definitions as they're written brings a little bit of schadenfreude here.

The first video I ever put up on YouTube, one pass around the fire control group pocket in my 80% lower, back in 2010.

The columns are saying that DOJ has until May 8 to publish the NPRM, and then the comment period starts.  It's hard to know just where this is going, but I think that at the very least that building a gun will be made harder.  What they seemed to object to in all their actions against Polymer80 is the convenience factor of the company selling the kit of parts to complete the gun alongside the 80% frame.  Fixtures that help you drill the holes for the trigger and safety, like the one in my video, might be made harder to come by because they add convenience. 


  1. Historically, what the BATFE has written in their own regulations and papers have nothing to do with how the actual BATFE individuals interpret their own regulations and papers.

    Individual BATFE personnel can and have made wild statements and determinations that are patently false, yet the organization will do its very best to protect and cover for the wild arsed interpretation.

    Just face it. The BATFE is one of the most wildly unconstitutional federal agencies ever created. And it needs to die, in a fire, fueled by alcohol, tobacco, firearms (well, the evil bullets..) and explosives.

    Seriously, the agency violates the 2nd Amendment just by existing.

    But then again, the bureaucrats and socialists don't care.

    BATFE has determined that some home hobbyist, with a few machine tools, some metal and some instructions, has 'intent to' and therefore is in violation of BATFE.

    1. I'm sure that they're poised to hunt down more Branch Davidians and kill them for doing something. At one point, 5 BATFE Special Agents worked for me. The less that is said of that, possibly the better. One of the five was pretty good.

    2. LL - 20% being good doesn't sound impressive.

      Beans - BATFE's reaction to judges telling them their law doesn't match reality is telling. They've set themselves up as the experts that None May Question and get cranky when someone tells them they can't do that.

      What they want to do is to look at somebody and say they're OK or criminal just by feeling. Their recent emphasis on the policy of constructive possession is an example. If you have something that can be construed to be illegal, you must intend to use it for illegal purposes. That's contrary to most established law in the country which says you have to demonstrate doing some illegal first and gives your the benefit of the doubt if you haven't.

      Say you have an AR rifle and decide to build a pistol. If you buy the pistol upper first, they can say that since you own the rifle lower you must intend to put the pistol upper on it, which makes it an NFA item and makes you a felon for not getting the stamp first. If you buy the lower first, and it has never been tied to being a rifle, then you're OK.

      Is there a more insane rule in the world?

    3. Yes, when the ATF was busting people for having fender washers and exhaust pipe in their garage for "building suppressors", arresting people who had a broken sear for "illegal machine guns" when their semi fired full auto due to the malfunction, busting people for a paper clip for "illegal modification to full auto", or my favorite, "cut barrel of shotgun with short stock to 18 inches so overall length makes illegal SBS and try to make into informant" like Randy Weaver.

  2. Then we need to distribute the files to make the fixtures. Print them, insert precisely cut little bits of pipe for the drill guides, whatever is needed. Or mill them from plate, or drill and thread flat plates, and screw bolts thru the holes to specific depths to hold a blank, or support a block during the milling operation.

    Barrels are the sticking point for homemade though, and I know there are people who have built jigs and worked on different techniques, but "gun drilling" has hundreds of years of trying to figure it out embedded in the manufacturing processes used by the manufacturers. You can make every other part in a garage shop, but making rifle barrels is hard.

    (so if you fear coming oppression, it's not 80% lowers and parts kits that you absolutely need, it's barrels.)


    1. Doesn't need to be metal either. I had a working lower milled out of a 2x6 when I was manufacturing them. The weak link isn't anything in the firing side of the pieces or parts. It was the buffer tube hole and it's thin walls that caused problems. Reinforce that with a little extra material on the bottom and sides (top needs clearance for the charging handle) and it lasted for a full 30rd mag. But as a disposable only need one or 2 shots to make a difference. JMO, YMMV, once trained professional on a closed course.

    2. My all time favorite homemade receiver was made from a kitchen cutting board, High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE. Back in '12.

  3. Predictably, sales of the lowers will skyrocket and peak, then go entirely underground.

    When they're essentially trying to ban worked rock and pointed sticks, unworked rocks and unsharpened sticks will become the order of the day.

    And inevitably, Oleg Volk's observations that banning otherwise legal items will just lead to people making full-auto silenced firearms at home, and figuring if they're going to be treated like rabid wolves, and hung for it, they may as well have the fangs and claws too.

    This bodes poorly for law enforcement, as they'll always be second place compared to what Sumdood can and will do to a firearm and use in actual crimes.

    Nannyism is normally limited biologically by one reaching majority, for all but the retarded.
    The minions of nanny government would attempt to extend it to a lifelong condition for everyone.
    It is bound to fail in two ways.
    And virulently.

    MOAR, faster, harder, please.

  4. Does their definition of crimes committed with 'ghost guns' include obliterated S/N's?

  5. back in the '50s a ghost gun (one-use) consisted of two pieces of scrap 1x wood, a couple of staples to hold the heavy-walled copper tubing in place, one slightly blunted nail, and a rubber band. It would fire a 9mm Kurz no harm to the user.
    How do I know? I read a lot of history.

  6. I imagine the A-10 Warthog approach would scale down to a five foot wingspan; making at home could create stuff you can't buy retail at any price, like guns with recoil buffering systems and mounting lugs. I wonder what cheap and ugly manufacturing of model warthogs might look like? Wings made from spruce boards with the top side contoured on a woodworking CNC? Internal bracing CNC'ed from plywood? Body made from large foam-core PVC drainage pipe? Wonder if you could get the airframe cost down to $250.

    1. The FAA is already on top of that. By 2023, all UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) will be require to contain a Remote ID (RID). transmitter unless they are flown in specific "licensed" places. A remote control aircraft is a UAS. With or without the RID transmitter it cannot be flown more than 400' from the person controlling it. There are ways around that but they get complicated.

      The NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) for this was released at the end of December 2019. It was something of a stealth release. The originally proposed rules were more draconian than the rules that were put in place which are still draconian. It was supposedly put in place because of the few sightings of drones from aircraft but was also for "national security" reasons. These rules have had a certain "odor" of totalitarianism even though released under the Trump Administration. They fit in well with the current Bastard Administration.

    2. Not only guns are affected by home manufacturing and 3D printing; UAS are too - I know multiple people who build and fly their own UAS; how will the government enforce this rule outside of a few heavily monitored areas?