FOIA Seeks ATF Documents after Technical Expert Admits ‘Machinegun’ Ruling Political

Yet per ATF's former Acting Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch, that rule ignored how previous advice from legal counsel and technical experts was overruled.

U.S.A. – -( A Freedom of Information Act Request filed with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Monday seeks presentation and other materials proving bureau decisions to reclassify firearm accessories as machineguns were political and contrary to statutory law, technical evaluations and advice of legal counsel. The request was filed by Stamboulieh Law, PLLC, on behalf of firearms designer Len Savage, President, Historic Arms, LLC.

The FOIA request seeks within 20 business days:

“1) Documents and all other tangible things, including but not limited to, emails, PowerPoint presentations, and communications related to a briefing at the Chief Counsel’s Office wherein a written brief and PowerPoint presentation, which discussed “automatically” and “single function of a trigger” was discussed (see attached Declaration of Rick Vasquez attached as Exhibit “1”, paragraphs 13 and 14);

“2) And, any other such similar briefings, which discussed Historic Arms, LLC, its products, and/or its president, Len Savage.”

The reason behind the request is some startling testimony made in a Verified Declaration by former ATF employee Richard Vasquez in the cases of Guedes v. BATFE/Firearms Policy Coalition v. Matthew Whitaker, filed Friday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In addition to having his expert qualifications recognized by federal courts, Vasquez declared that :

“[O]ver my 14-year tenure, I held the titles of Senior Technical Expert, Assistant Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch (‘FTB’) Acting Chief of the FTB, and Acting Chief of the Firearms Training Branch.”

In his sworn statement, Vasquez cited a briefing from several years back for then-ATF Acting Director Michael Sullivan and notes:

“During the briefing, the Chief Counsel’s Office provided a written brief and a PowerPoint presentation, which discussed ‘automatically’ and ‘single function of a trigger.’ The brief and PowerPoint presentation, based on the intent of Congress and the statutory text, detailed how even the Akins Accelerator was not a machinegun. However, Acting Director Sullivan decided, against the advice of the Chief Counsel’s Office, to declare the Akins Accelerator a machinegun.”

That the boss would go against qualified experts and legal counsel is not surprising to those who followed the anti-gun enforcement machinations of the George W. Bush political nominee dubbed “Maximum Mike” for going after strong sentences. Thanks to leadership by a coalition of gun owner rights advocates:

“Sullivan's confirmation was opposed by gun rights groups such as the Gun Owners of America, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The NRA did not categorically state its opposition to the confirmation of Mr. Sullivan but expressed its concern over the ATF's ‘overly restrictive legal interpretations’ and ‘overly zealous enforcement activities.’”

This was the unelected functionary who zealously overruled legal counsel and technical advice that led us to not only the developer of the Akins Accelerator being financially destroyed but now to a situation where owners of devices like “bump stocks” will face felony charges if they do not surrender or destroy their property. This smells more like a conspiracy to deprive citizens of rights than anything else.

“It is my belief and understanding that the written brief and PowerPoint presentation of the Chief Counsel’s Office, as well as other communications and determinations on ‘automatic’ and ‘single function of the trigger,’ still exist within ATF and were never mentioned nor addressed during the rulemaking in this matter or the Final Rule,” Vasquez asserted, further admitting “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”

Why weren't they addressed?

Those are the documents Savage and Stamboulieh are determined to obtain and make public. They should have a significant bearing on another action Stamboulieh is currently arguing, the case over the Trump “bump stock ban” involving, among other complaints, my re-engineered-to-be-compliant Akins Accelerator.

The court has scheduled a hearing next Tuesday for oral arguments on the motion for a preliminary injunction in that case. 

About David Codrea:David Codrea
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

  • 60 thoughts on “FOIA Seeks ATF Documents after Technical Expert Admits ‘Machinegun’ Ruling Political

    1. I laugh at these regulatory rulings by unelected bureaucrats in the alphabet agencies, in this case the good ole ATF.

      Bump fire is a technique. Bump stocks are for those that are either lazy or don’t understand firearms operation. Learn the technique, and you will find bump stocks quite unnecessary. My neighborhood occasionally echoes with the sounds of “automatic fire”, which is just that….sounds.

      1. You mean like Russian Trolls who get on to complain about Russian trolls because they want to silence or condemn certain opinions that they don’t agree with being written by actual Americans who are tired of lies coming out of our politicians whether they are in the Government or political organizations like the NRA??

        Those Russian trolls, like “The Virginian”?

        ~”Men who hunt monsters should take care, lest they become monsters themselves.”

    2. And once again it is proven the NRA knew what they were in fact doing by calling for an ATF review on the ruling of legality of bumpstocks. By doing so at the time they already knew what the ultimate outcome would be. And by calling for the review it essentially took all the steam out of the mounting pressure on capital hill to take action against bumpstocks, binary triggers and a whole host of other things the anti- gunners would no doubt would have tried to throw into any legislation they would have attempted to pass at the time. No it is and can be logically argued that the much misinterpreted NRA’s call for review of the ruling ( NOT endorsing a ban, OR calling for a ban. Go back and reread it if you think that was what it said. They called for a rereview of the two previous rulings that declared bumpstocks legal. NOTHING more, NOTHING less) was a well timed and thought out response to the imminent probability of passing laws in Congress that WOULD have made bumpstocks, and likely a host of other things illegal and given the owners ZERO chance or recourse to challenge in the courts !!
      I would ask you where you would rather be at this point in the process ??? Would you rather be at this point where although a ban has been called for, it appears that it will be struck down as illegal and we will be back to square one with NOTHING having been taken from us as far as rights go. OR would you have preferred that things had kept going the way they had been before the NRA’s call for review and had the quite possible chances of having a legally binding new law ( or laws) passed by Congress that WOULD have outlawed not only bumpstocks, but likely binarys, and possibly other parts that would obviously gotten included in an as usual loosly worded law ( think assault weapons ban that was claimed to only ban a handful of weapons by name, yeah bull—-) You can make your conclusions and decide where you would rather be……..

    3. Spot on. Exactly correct Mr Codrea. I just heard of this new evidence today. Wow. So new evidence uncovered in my original Akins Accelerator case that was never turned over by ATF to my attorney at that time, and that evidence showing that acting ATF director Sullivan went against ATF legal council, ATF tech branch, and other ranking ATF employee’s advice. Instead substituting Sullivan’s personal and or political “feelings”, over science, mechanics and the clear wording of the N.F.A.. Thus infringing upon mine, my fellow Akins Group Inc corporate members, and our customers’ 2nd amendment rights and our rights under the Congressional N.R.A.. Also destroying the financial livelihood of Akins Group Inc which necessitated it’s dissolution with my atty setting me up to act as “Successor In Interest”, whereupon I brought suit against ATF, as well as a subsequent appeal, SCOTUS cert was denied. Now I find out that important evidence you cited David, was withheld illegally by ATF and could have had a significant difference in the outcome of my cases. Very Interesting Indeed. I understand that cases adjudicated at the appellate level and denied cert at the SCOTUS level, usually cannot be reopened. Unless of course there is compelling evidence to do so. Such as that the ATF withheld that evidence, and that acting director Sullivan acted solely on his own personal bias rather than the advice of own ATF legal counsel and ranking ATF employees, and ATF tech branch, and the clear wording of Congress’s N.F.A. of: “One shot per single function of the trigger” which ATF is trying now to change to “pulled” means the same thing as “single function”, uh, Gatling guns, rotational triggers, triggers that are pushed, I guess according to ATF’s current position I could create a bumpfire stock that pushed, rather than pulled the trigger and ATF wouldn’t know what to do because it PUSHED rather than PULLED the trigger. Since “pull” is the only way ATF now recognizes a trigger can be functioned, that completely ignores rotational trigger Gatling and Gardner guns, as well as Nordenfeldt multibarrel guns which had a lever one PUSHED. ATF also asserts that it can add ” any analogous motions” to their “interpretation” of the NFA. What is an “analogous motion” one may ask? It is whatever ATF wants it to be. So just as with their tech branch which has no scientific, repeatable, set of standards for it’s approval or disapproval of submitted designs, (and there is evidence that Tech branch has disapproved some manufacturers while approving other manufacturers for an identical or operationally similar design submission), ATF likes their arbitrary tech branch with no scientific repeatable, video’d, standard. They simply make it up as they go along. The reason I mention this is because ATF will do the same thing with “any analogous motion”. What is it? Whatever ATF arbitrarily says it is. So here we have a federal agency adding something that not only contradicts the NFA wording of “Single function” of the trigger, but also adds to “analogous motion” as a term that does not exist in the NFA to ATF’s “interpretation” of it. Now ATF seeks to not only make felons out of hundreds of thousands of bump fire stock owners, but deprive them of their property without compensation thus violating the 5th amendment. That’s exactly what the ATF is trying to do now, seize more power for itself not mandated by the constitution or the Congressional N.F.A. and all what is happening currently with the bumpstock ban, and cases filed against it, as well as new evidence being uncovered regarding my old cases, all the bad things Sullivan did to myself, my corporate members, our customers, and the court allowed authority he usurped in spite of the clear wording of the N.F.A. saying “one shot per single function of the trigger”…all THIS……could have been avoided if Sullivan had not acted in personal or political bias against my invention against the advice of his own agency, as well as withheld that evidence from my attorney. This certainly sounds like what has been found out now is compelling evidence in that regard for a reopening of my old case if any attorneys are interested. Yes very interesting news indeed.

      1. Maybe you should read deeper – from

        Though it has been applied inconsistently across cases, justices had been reluctant to formally indicate any desire to formally abandon the doctrine. However, since 2015, “[i]f one counts King v. Burwell, all nine justices have at least once signed an opinion explicitly holding that Chevron should not apply in a situation where the administrative law textbooks would previously have said that it must apply.”[2]

        The Trump administration has been open about its desire to nominate judicial appointees who are, according to a March 2018 New York Times article, “devoted to a legal doctrine that challenges the broad power federal agencies have to interpret laws and enforce regulations, often without being subject to judicial oversight.” The criteria were first applied when nominating Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s rulings have been critical of the Chevron doctrine. His opposition to Chevron has made him the model for Trump administration judicial appointments.[3]

    4. Read this earlier this morning and sent another contribution to the Gun Owners Of America. I dropped my NRA membership last year having come to the conclusion that NRA stands for Negotiating Rights Away. They are an utterly useless organization and at least, the GOA represents and stands up for the average armed American practicing his Constitutional rights.

    5. Ladies & Gentleman your concerns are on target. As a retired Special Operations Soldier from Fort Bragg to have women and children murdered or worse burned alive on American Soil as in the WACO atrocity, not one agent from the BATF or FBI lost their job or had charges brought against them. Name any operation that the BATF has done WACO, Dallas, Ruby Ridge has failed miserably. Why because every agent I have met is poorly trained and or poorly indoctrinated. All are erogant and ignorant in skills of leadership. I have witnessed violations of the public’s 4th Amendment because BATF Agents have raided houses with no probable cause. Read what they did to one of their own, Jay Dobyns.

      1. @ODK, Special Ops, you say. At Ft Bragg there is a Hall of Heroes. In one room are many square pillars. On each side of the four sided pillar are the picture and official citation of a Medal of Honor soldier. In what building is the Hall of Heroes?

        1. The hall of heroes used to be in the USAJFKSWC lobby back in the 70s-90s, they were still there when I was assigned in the S-3. Of course NOW they could be anywhere with all of the building that has gone on since then. But what does that have to do with anything?

          Graduated SFQC class Sep76!

    6. I would expect an infringement of constitutional protections under the previous Obama administration, but to have such a travesty of rights under the Trump administration; incredible. President Trump wooed the Second Amendment
      supporters only to betray that support. Unfortunately the NRA were partners in crime along with RINO Republicans.
      President Trump,RINOs and the NRA have taken gun owners for granted, knowing they have little or choice. President
      Trump you have sold your soul and integrity Our Republic is at peril.

      1. Attention “ye of little faith “Our unalienable rights created by the constitution can be undermined if not voted on by /for commie/rhino Congress ,, Final say however is whether “we “conform “we the people “have the final say ,,so what Could go right? 1776Hey nobody said freedom was free-So how are you liking the “new world order “so far??

        1. “Our unalienable rights created by the constitution can be undermined if not voted on by /for commie/rhino Congress

          Uhhh, Greg? Wake up, my man.

          No, the Constitution does NOT “create” any of those rights. It merely names and sometimes defines them. The Declaration, the first part of our founding documents makes VERY clar those rights are given by God, to all equally, are not to be infringed, removed, regulated, restricted, denied, manipulated away, that they predate the Constituton, nor are they dependent upon that document or any government.

          They are OURS by virtue of the fact that we are breathing.

          And it is beyond time that “commie/rhino Congress” wake up and realise this before a raft of them get charged wiht criminal felony perjury for searing their oaths of office then failing/refusing to uphold them.

          1. The Bill of Rights was written to remind government of the things they _could not do_. It was not written to tell us what government would allow us to do.

            That is something the Left understands, but refuses to accept. Conservatives understand our Constitution was written to protect the rights of the individual from those who wanted a powerful federal government, like Alexander Hamilton, who sabotaged the Constitution by being very clever in how it parts of it were written, knowing that broad statements and definitions left wide open so they would allow “interpretation”, give government the excuse to manipulate the meaning, like what Interstate commerce means, or what “the militia” means.

            The Left wants everyone’s rights subject to, subservient to, the “needs of the collective”. They don’t give a damn about the rights of the individual.

      2. You assume that Trump is reneging on his promises. I think Trump knows exactly what he is doing.

        Look at Chevron deference, or Chevron doctrine — an administrative law principle that compels federal courts to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute that Congress delegated to the agency to administer. The principle derives its name from the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.[1]

        Though it has been applied inconsistently across cases, justices had been reluctant to formally indicate any desire to formally abandon the doctrine. However, since 2015, “[i]f one counts King v. Burwell, all nine justices have at least once signed an opinion explicitly holding that Chevron should not apply in a situation where the administrative law textbooks would previously have said that it must apply.”[2]

        The Trump administration has been open about its desire to nominate judicial appointees who are, according to a March 2018 New York Times article, “devoted to a legal doctrine that challenges the broad power federal agencies have to interpret laws and enforce regulations, often without being subject to judicial oversight.” The criteria were first applied when nominating Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s rulings have been critical of the Chevron doctrine. His opposition to Chevron has made him the model for Trump administration judicial appointments.[3]

        Make no mistake, Trump is playing three level chess with a congress who has a hard time with checkers! Trump satisfied the left with this bump stock crap knowing that we (gun-owning, Bible-toting conservatives) would take it to court. Just remember, Trump has been WINNING far more court battles in the last two years than the left ever expected, and this will be another win (even though it might look like a loss).

    7. Remember this is only the tip of the iceberg, with this ruling they will now piecemeal any part that is designed to add to the speed of fire power out of any gun, they will put a new meaning into (A BETTER MOUSE TRAP) , These units were produced and Patented, why wasn’t this brought up before the Patent was issued? Nothing until Vegas and no proof of them actually being used only a picture and then no lay out of all guns that were equip with these units, were there just 1 or how many, only 1 picture and that is the only 1 unit, most times when an act like that they always lay out all weapons involved are displayed, major drug busts are always laid out for public viewing, where was it for the Vegas assault? And the idiotic report that the FBI came out with, that raises more questions than answers, they really have been dropping the ball recently!!!!!!

      1. Stop reacting like a leftist! This whole bump stock ordeal is part of a game Trump is playing on the left. Trump knows very well that it will go to court and the ATF decision will be found unconstitutional. I’d bet on it! trump is playing triple level chess, congress is playing checkers!

        So don’t get rid of your Bump Stock, just mothball it for a few months/years.

        1. @Rattlerjake

          BS…. Nothing more, nothing less. BS. Game or not, it’s a violation of the constitution, and you should have remembered that from December not two months ago.

          So you support Donald Trump, Fine…….. Most of us understand him better than you think, and that is why we are criticizing him. Our rights are not chess pieces to be messed with.

          If you want to support Donald Trump you are more than welcome to, but you have ZERO rights to demand the agreement of others. If you cant even recognize the basic rights of others to formulate their own opinions and express their own views then you do not understand or support the constitution. Just because we disagree with you about a single person does not make us leftists. Know your place.

        2. You are right, Rattlerjake. David Codrea provided the link to the suit that is being brought by several organizations and individuals. It is very well written, and I can see no way it can lose, unless an Obama appointed federal judge rules against it just because he can, and the SCOTUS refuses to accept the cas for their review. I just read through it, and it is clear enough for even us non-lawyers to understand. Read it – you’ll be impressed and see why it may get the Final Rule reversed or canceled. Guedes vs ATF

          1. @RegT

            Ok, so where is the proof showing it is a grand scheme by Trump as Rattlerjake is claiming?

            The fact that his actions on bumpstocks is unconstitutional is not in question. What is in question is the line of bull from Trumps diehard supporters anytime he screws up where they try to tell us not to question his actions because it is part of a trojan attack against the left..

    8. The B.A.T.F. was ILLEGALLY created.

      ” Secretary Humphrey with NO AUTHORITY, creates an AGENCY of the Department of the Treasury called “Internal Revenue Service”, out of AIR, from AN OFFSHORE PURE TRUST, called “Bureau of Internal Revenue”. The “SETTLER” and “BENEFICIARIES” of the trust are UNKNOWN. The “TRUSTEE” is the “SECRETARY of THE TREASURY”. Acting Secretary Walker further LAUNDERS the trust by CREATING from the alleged “Internal Revenue Service”, the “BUREAU OF ALCOHOL TOBACCO AND FIREARMS”

      Treasury Order 120-01 assigned to the new B.A.T.F. CHAPTERS 51, 52, 53 OF THE Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and sections 7652 and 7653 of such code, chapters 61 through 80 inclusive of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (27 USC Chapter 8)[which, in 1935 the SUPREME COURT HAD DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL WITHIN THE SEVERAL STATES OF THE UNION,]
      ( BATF – Criminal Fraud by Dan Meador )

      1. Those are the specifics of the origin of the political entity we know as BATFE.

        READ your COnstitution…. FedGov are assigned only very few, limited, and specifically named powers, or areas of authority.

        NOT ONE OF THEM have anything to do with ATFor E.

        You will NOT find alcohol, tobacco, or explosives even mentioned anywhere inthe Cnostitution.

        You WILL find firearms (“arms”) mentioned only once, and we all know where that part is. And that says THE PEOPLE have the right to arms, and NO ONE, NOTHiNG, shall infronge upon that right.

        So even IF BATFE had been formed or organised lawfully, it the agency deal with four things proscibed against FedGov to address in any way.

    9. My fellow Americans. They(the elitis)don’t care about you, your children or anything but themselves. Lest you forget, they tax us into poverty at alllevels of their corrupt system. Alll the Piigs are slopping at the trough and eating out our existence! They murder and brainwash our most precious asset, our children! They call for our total disarmament so they can real begin their masters true work. Total enslavemet to the Beast System The6 worship!
      But keep the faith and hope. For they do fear us because we are still armed to the teeth! Never, ever, ever give up your guns! Never!
      For more understanding, get the little book ‘The Law’ by Frederic Bastia

    10. What is all the hoopla about machine gun this, machine gun that? The Founding Fathers wanted the PEOPLE to have accessible to them every dreadful instrument of war. Why is it that those in GOVERNMENT want to be armed better then WE THE PEOPLE? Why is it that they want us DISARMED and use any pitiful pretext to do so? I say that it is getting close, really close to the day that we need to take our country back from the psychopathic communists that have had control over it for decades. BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY. It’s time we read the Declaration of Independence very slowly and realize that King George’s tyranny over our fore fathers makes today’s tyranny over us was NOTHING in comparison. 3% tea tax vs what 50? 60? percent slavery EVERY year in taxes? And the fact we have to deal in their worthless fiat currency and exchange our labor for it?

      1. @Mark Are, You ask, “Why is it that they want us DISARMED and use any pitiful pretext to do so?” The answer is because there is no profit in letting the American people be free.

      2. Mark are, comment of the year!! It’s way past time to do this!! The problem is noones got balls anymore like our brilliant founding fathers did!! It’s easier to sit on there ass and deal with the destruction of America! The time is here! The constitution was written for this exact reason!

    11. If Congress defined “machine gun” for the purposes of Title 18, and in 2018 refused to pass a federal ban on bumpstocks or redefine the definition to include same, how then is it unelected bureaucrats can override the Legislativve Branch, and change this well settled definition to include an accessory?

      Is this the Fourth Branch of Government alive and well, the Regulatory Branch, this ever swelling uncontrollable, unaccountable bureaucracy, trampling upon the Citizenry at its whim?

      1. You have just defined the Deep State. It is the bureaucracy, and the associated central banks and international corporations with which it has an incestuous relationship, that is the real national government, for most purposes. The President, Congress and the courts still have some power, but starting in 1914 they have been slowly relegated to nothing but a dog and pony show, circuses to keep the peons entertained and distracted. That process is almost complete.

      2. “un-elected bureaucrats” can do anything they want… and historically, even the few court orders that have been issued (in any kind of attempt to control the bureaucracy) have been issued with no “teeth.” Bureaucrats who ignore court orders and continue to act independently… face no actual consequences.

        Until 1) court orders contain some form of real-world enforceability, or 2) the People revolt… nothing will change.

        Your move, Patriots.

    12. PROOF:

      Proof that the law and science can be overruled by a political appointee….Not a guess, but concrete, sworn to, proof.
      Akins went to court and the ATF/DOJ hid this evidence…DOJ has become the monster they claim to fight, criminal.

      Anybody who thinks this is about bump stocks is not paying attention. The govt. rigged the game…Anybody think it’s the first time?

      Len Savage
      Historic Arms LLC

      PS: Dear govt, wishing away the rule of law is not a good idea. Without it the law of the jungle will fill the void.

    13. If the atf And all The anti gun folks keep.takeing up The guns and rights ,then what about fire works and gun powder? I really hope we stay a free country. It comes with a cost. Or just give up as we all head to the new gas Chambers

        1. Frederick K Peterman. Wounded Knee Massacre, Waco Texas, Ruby Ridge, forced sterilization of low IQ Americans, nuclear, chemical experiments on our soldiers, children and citizen without their consent and many, many other atrocities. You don’t have to look to other countries for crimes we have more than enough ourselves.

    14. The fact that any of this sh!t has transpired in the last 1-2yrs is nothing but proof that liberal/corupt politicians wanna takeaway our god given rights. Diane Feinstein rails against “ALL” guns, yet is 1 of only a select few CA residents wya CCW permit, & owns several guns herself, including the “banned” guns!!! Asher isn’t against guns, she’s against you & me/us citizens having them & wants2 be the only inner who owns guns! This is exactly why liberals/socialists/Democrat party members are SO DAMN dangerous in society! They’re against true freedom & constitution!

      1. As a reminder it was the Trump administration that banned these bump stocks. Both parties are complicit in restricting our freedoms. This difference is simply one party is slightly more accelerated than the other.

    15. Thank god for actual Pro right to keep and bear arms groups.

      Scary to think the not only does the NRA not care about your rights, but if they do choose they will do nothing as people’s livelihoods are ruined as politicians erode our rights.

    Leave a Comment 60 Comments