Saturday, May 22, 2021

Looking at BATFE's "Ghost Guns" Rules

Back on May 8th, when I posted about a rule drop from BATFE on the proposed rule changes, it seems that was an unofficial drop from them.  80% Lowers notified everyone by email yesterday that the NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) was just released yesterday, so I downloaded that one and compared it to what I have.  I didn't go page by page, but everything I've been looking at hasn't changed.  If you missed it, the NPRM can be found here.

I'm going to excerpt a small portion of the alleged purposes of the regulation and the section that I'm most concerned about, which is just what constitutes "readily converted," which they specifically say they want to clarify.  Excerpt from page 1 of 115.  

The Department of Justice (“Department”) proposes amending Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) regulations to provide new regulatory definitions of “firearm frame or receiver” and “frame or receiver” because the current regulations fail to capture the full meaning of those terms. The Department also proposes amending ATF’s definitions of “firearm” and “gunsmith” to clarify the meaning of those terms, and to provide definitions of terms such as “complete weapon,” “complete muffler or silencer device,” “privately made firearm,” and “readily” for purposes of clarity given advancements in firearms technology. Further, the Department proposes amendments to ATF’s regulations on marking and recordkeeping that are necessary to implement these new or amended definitions. [Bold added: SiG]

And here's where they clarify the meaning of “readily.”

Readily. A process that is fairly or reasonably efficient, quick, and easy, but not necessarily the most efficient, speedy, or easy process. Factors relevant in making this determination, with no single one controlling, include the following:
(a) Time, i.e., how long it takes to finish the process;
(b) Ease, i.e., how difficult it is to do so;
(c) Expertise, i.e., what knowledge and skills are required;
(d) Equipment, i.e., what tools are required;
(e) Availability, i.e., whether additional parts are required, and how easily they can be obtained;
(f) Expense, i.e., how much it costs;
(g) Scope, i.e., the extent to which the subject of the process must be changed to finish it; and
(h) Feasibility, i.e., whether the process would damage or destroy the subject of the process, or cause it to malfunction.

That isn't clarifying the definition, it's a list of factors they'll use to decide “readily” without giving any quantifiable definition of the word.  There is no guidance there whatsoever.  As always, their answer is "because we say it is."  Take listing (a) Time.  Is five minutes readily?  An hour?  A day?   There's a combination of time, ease, equipment and expertise that I can see as scales, such that the more of those the builder has the more readily the conversion can be completed.   

I suppose they don't want to give numbers for time because they're afraid if they say something specific people will simply avoid their limits.  Let's say the ATF defines that finishing a firearm in under eight hours of work is too little time, they see that as telling hobbyists to work slowly completing their firearm and if they were going to finish in six hours, people would know to slow down and take more time.    

There's a massive footnote spread between pages 36 and 37 that gives some hints at how various courts have interpreted “readily.”  These range from five minutes (pretty obvious) to “a two-hour restoration process using ordinary tools, including a stick weld, is within the ordinary meaning of 'readily restored'” (from the 9th Circus).  There's the famous ruling that a “machine gun that would take around an eight-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop was readily restored to shoot” which sounds to me nothing like “readily restored.”  There's also the opposite “weapons could not be “readily restored to fire” when restoration required master gunsmith in a gun shop and $65,000 worth of equipment and tools.”

I think it's worth pointing out in any comments you make how insignificant this whole thing is.  They say (note that PMF means Privately Made Firearms, the proper term for what the zealot gun controllers call ghost guns):

In recent years, the number of PMFs recovered from crime scenes throughout the country has increased.17 From January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2020, there were approximately 23,906 suspected PMFs reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides, and that were attempted to be traced by ATF, broken down by year as follows: 

2016:  1,750
2017:  2,507
2018:  3,776
2019:  7,161
2020:  8,712

According to Gun Facts, in 2019 those 7,161 PMFs recovered turn out to be 1.3% of the guns used in crimes.  Perhaps 2% at most, if "outlier agencies" are included.  As always, those guns are most likely from gangs fighting each other. 

With a 115 page bill, it would take a team of experts to respond to every point.  Based on how popular my little series on my AR-15 from an 80% lower is, I thought some of you might find this worth reading. 




  1. Sooo.... Enforcing Rules made up out of smoke, thin air, shit, and using smoke, thin air and shit to make interpretations that take more smoke, thin air and poop (between the ears) to understand exactly how they made the determination of the interpretation of the regulation that was made out of... smoke, thin air and shit.

    Right. Got it. Sure.

    We need to make a new government agency to combat stuff like this. We can call it... BFYTW!

    Gah.... I mean, whut? What exactly does any of this clarify? What does this due to simplifying the whole process?

    If the answer is supposed to be "Abso-friggin-lutely Nothing!!!" then they have succeeded.

    If the answer is supposed to be "So we can do whatever we friggin want because we are the BATFE and you all are poopy-headed peons who piss us off by actually demanding to exercise your rights as enumerated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights," then, yes, the BAFTE has succeeded.

    Rat bastards all.

    And this is how they turn God-Fearing, Goverment-Loving people into anti-government radicals in less than three seconds.

    And one more dig...

    You can tell this piece of dog squeeze was written by a democrat because it takes 10,000 words to say absolutely nothing other than 'we make sh...tuff up and you can suck it.'

    (grumble brumble bad-word really-bad-word really-really-bad-word-so-bad-birds-fell-dead-out-of-the-air-and-trees-caught-on-fire...)

    1. The main thrust of my response to the NPRM is that they're not clarifying these things, they're just waving their hands. That's exactly what they want because they want to be able to define what constitutes an illegal gun "because we say so". Like defining a shoelace to be a machine gun. (Never forget that guy did jail time over a shoe lace).

      They create an entire nationwide infrastructure to deal with putting serial numbers on privately made guns, and those sections are full of annoying details. They're trying to ensure that if someone invents a new technology that can make guns that they can control that. The first 3D printer that prints metal and sells for under $1000 throws every piece of the ruling out.

  2. How many people actually care what USGOV wants, these days? Maybe in the fetid inner cities they do. There we find a cult-like worship of Jo/Ho and minions.

    1. Michael Bane has a saying that I think is pretty good. Unenforced laws aren't enforced until they are. Maybe they're flypaper laws that are just there to stick onto other charges and make some sort of conviction more likely. Maybe they don't get used until you get pulled over for a bad taillight coming home from the range.

      As I understand it, ATF uses the doctrine of “constructive possession” much of the time. I own a few metal lathes. If I were to have certain things, and they wanted to, they could say my possession of those things and a metal lathe means I intend to make illegal silencers. They don't have to be in the same room, they could be stored in a garage across town. The mere fact that I have both of them indicates I intend to build silencers.

      They've argued that doctrine in court and won.

    2. Just as one who is practiced in the martial arts, that their hands and feet are weapons, perhaps simply the knowledge of machining would convict. I wouldn't be surprised.

  3. When they've succeeded in making it nigh-impossible to know the law, thus similarly impossible to comply with it, people will simply cease to do so.

    If the BATFE is trying to reach Peak "Shoot Them On Sight In The Face" for all their field agents, they're certainly going about it in the correct manner.

    And it's not like they have any citizen goodwill going back 60 years to barter with going into the bargain.

    This is just more evidence of a government bound and determined to bore holes in the reactor at every possible point, until they successfully achieve widespread societal FOOM!

    Simple eye protection ain't gonna cut it, at that point.

  4. 'Vaguely written, strictly enforced' has been a guide for policy for decades. OSHA and EPA, I believe, were the first to implement such guidelines. It leads to confusion which then involves the courts. That's a feature, not a bug.

    Absolutely is this 'it's what we say it is'. Again, a feature, not a bug. Government out of control but remember, government may seem faceless but it is actually certain persons.

  5. As is said, 'ignorance of the law is no excuse'; however, the rest of that phrase is 'the law must be knowable'. When the law becomes so plentiful as to be onerous, we all are guilty parties, apriori. Where the law is purposefully vague, the Rule of Law is dead because it has been supplanted by the rule of men.

  6. Solutions for problems that dont exist. If you have not commented on this proposal by the ATF please do so here:

    The communists will not stop until they regulate all firearms out of civilian posession. They have to if they are to succeed in their plan for total dominance over us. The communists are telling us their plans. They published their manifesto for the US 5 decades ago.

    Read comments by others here:

    The following simple and profound words are as relevant when first written as they are today.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    1. Just a note that the NPRM is open for comments for 90 days, so while I urge everyone to file a comment against it, there's no need to rush. We have until August. Read it, mark it up, make logical arguments against it without being insulting. The more real facts, numbers and statistics you can present the better.