U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)-AmmoLand News has gotten an exclusive look at Polymer80’s submitted comments on the proposed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rule change for unfinished frames and receivers.
The company best known for its build kits that hobbyists use to construct firearms has been under fire from anti-gun groups who do not like that Americans have the right to build guns. Groups like Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety pressured the Biden administration to crack down on what they call “Ghost Guns.”
Calling unfinished frames “ghost guns” is more of a PR move than an actual technical term. Much like the anti-gun groups of the late 80s and 90s creating the phrase “assault weapon,” modern gun groups made the term to scare the public. The creation of homemade firearms is older than the United States itself.
Polymer80 considers the new proposed rule “unlawful under the governing statutory regime, arbitrary and capricious, and unconstitutional.”
The company lays out the case using the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) and the National Firearms Act of 1968 (NFA) against the ATF. It makes a strong case that the ATF cannot do what they are proposing that they will do. The comments are very similar to those that gun rights organizations submitted to the National Registry.
Polymer80 believes that the ATF doesn’t have the authority to regulate firearms parts. The company points to the GCA to make its point. The authors of the GCA never intended to regulate firearms parts. In fact, Congress expressly removed “part or parts” from the definition of a firearm. Congress believed that regulation of firearm parts was impractical.
During the debate of the GCA, Senator Dodd explained: “[t]he present definition of this term includes ‘any part or parts’ of a firearm. It has been impractical to treat each small part of a firearm as if it were a weapon. The revised definition substitutes the words’ frame or receiver’ for the words’ any part or parts.’”
Polymer80 also points to the GCA for the definition of a firearm. The company points up that “weapon parts kits” and partially complete frames are not included in the definition of a firearm under the GCA.
The GCA defines a firearm as: “(A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device.”
The ATF claims that a “weapon parts kit” is designed to be readily converted to expel a projectile. Polymer80 contends that by the ATF saying that a “weapon parts kit” is intended to be readily convertible, they change the meaning of “converted.” The company points out that a customer doesn’t convert a kit, but the buyer assembles the kit. Polymer80 points to the statutory distinction between “convert” and “assemble” as laid out in the NFA.
Polymer80 claims that the ATF’s interpretation of a firearm under the GCA has zero deference. This argument is the same one made in Gun Owners of America v. Garland (bump stock case). Both the court case and Polymer80’s comments cite the United States v. Apel. That case reaffirmed that Chevron deference could not be applied in a criminal statute.
The company makes another argument that is found in the bump stock case. That argument is that the ATF is violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The company claims that the proposed rule is arbitrary and capricious. The company makes this claim because the ATF doesn’t articulate any comprehensible standards.
Under the APA, anytime a regulatory agency departs from a prior policy that disrupts serious reliance interests, it must explain its actions. The ATF never explains why it is changing its policy. The Biden administration ordered the ATF to change its regulations, but that isn’t a legal reason to do so.
This argument is another that is found in the bump stock case. An agency cannot change its definitions to meet an administrative goal. Much like Trump ordering the ATF to get rid of bump stocks, Biden is doing much of the same with unfinished frames and receivers.
Polymer80 also believes the proposed rule because it doesn’t “give adequate consideration to available alternatives when engaging in rulemaking.” The company believes that the ATF did not sufficiently consider “[n]o change.” No one in the firearms world believes that the ATF considered not changing the rule.
The company claims that the ATF didn’t do a proper cost-benefit analysis CBA of the proposed rule. The ATF’s CBA only considers the cost to the government, which Polymer80 claims even that it was calculated wrong. The company points out the CBA doesn’t address the cost to the industry or the consumer. Most of the cost of the new rule will fall on people outside the federal government.
Polymer80 claims that the proposed rule violates the due process rights of the company and individuals by not providing sufficient notice. The company claims the proposed rule “is incomprehensible, and the murky factors that ATF proposes applying to determine whether or not an item qualifies as a regulated firearm do not give regulated entities sufficient notice.”
Finally, the company claims that the proposed rule violates the Second Amendment. It argues that the rule interferes “interfering with the ability of individuals to obtain firearms without justification.” The rule would close businesses and make it harder for American citizens to obtain gun parts. Yet, that is most likely the goal of the proposed rule.
The proposed rule’s comment period has closed, but the comment period for the proposed pistol stabilizing brace rule is still open.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.