ATF Actions Show Selective and Inconsistent Rules and Enforcement

It figures the self-styled “experts” misspelled “identifying.” This piece of self-promoting propaganda deserves a “5 Fast Facts” rebuttal, starting with “Unconstitutional, but there’s not a damn thing your ‘representatives’ intend to do about it.” (ATF/Facebook)

U.S.A. – -( With anticipated ATF raids over reports on a purported ATF email concerning forced reset triggers, with similar concerns arising from ATF actions on stabilizing braces, with renewed expectations om the classification of Shockwave-type firearms, and with the hysterical reclassification of “bump stock” type devices as machineguns, one thing is clear: These attacks on the right to keep and bear arms have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with an ATF being pressed by higher-ups to pile on infringements through “rule” changes.

The inconsistency of those rules is another story some of us have been following for years.

In 2005, the Congressional Research Service published a memorandum regarding ATF firearms testing procedures. Among other things, it revealed that the ATF has “over 300 cubic feet of classification letters stored in file cabinets.” The Bureau hasn’t scanned any of these documents into a searchable database to assure consistency of interpretation, to identify and resolve regulatory conflicts. The extent to which this inconsistency has grown and compounded in intervening years is unknown and unknowable without a major organization and review effort, which ain’t gonna happen.

One little-known story outside of older gun owner circles I believe illustrates this dangerous absurdity was revealed in the case of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, VS . ONE HISTORIC ARMS MODEL 54RCCS “7.62X54R CALIBER CONVERSION SYSTEM” MACHINE GUN, SERIAL NO. V1: Defendant. That’s when my friend and colleague Len Savage submitted a conversion part to ATF and, after attaching things to it that no one but them would ever think of, like metal, zip ties, duct tape, and chains, they apparently got it to “misbehave.”

Testimony, in that case, revealed there are untold numbers of unregistered machine guns currently owned by Americans that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives not only knows about but actually created the conditions whereby this situation exists. As my late friend and colleague Mike Vanderboegh noted at the time in an open letter written to illustrate ATF and Brady Campaign inconsistency and hypocrisy:

“Let me draw your attention to the sworn testimony of one Richard Vasquez, ATF Assistant Chief, Firearms Technology Branch … from a deposition on 10 September 2009, pp. 73-75.”

Regular AmmoLand readers will recall Vasquez and his testimony showing “bump stock” bans to be political:

“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.”

Now let me draw your attention to what he testified during Savage’s case:

The relevant ATF ruling to consult is 82-8, recovered here courtesy of the Internet Archive/Wayback Machine. And the relevant information to take away from that is this:

“The National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b), defines a machine gun to include any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”


“Held: The SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and the SAC carbine are designed to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. Consequently, the SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and SAC carbines are machine guns as defined in Section 5845(b) of the Act.”

What follows is largely copied from what I wrote in 2010:

“So that makes them NFA weapons, right?  And ones not registered on the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) are illegal to own?

Well, not exactly:

“With respect to the machine gun classification of the SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and SAC carbines, under the National Firearms Act, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 7805(b), this ruling will not be applied to SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and SAC carbines manufactured or assembled before June, 21, 1982. Accordingly, SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and SAC carbines, manufactured or assembled on or after June 21, 1982, will be subject to all the provisions of the National Firearms Act and 27 C.F.R., Part 479.”

You got that, right? They’re the same gun.  If you put one produced before the deadline and one produced after it side by side, you would not be able to tell the difference.  They would look and function identically.  Own one without registration and you’re fine. Own the other without registration and you’re looking at serious time in the federal slammer, as well as becoming a “prohibited person”– for life. Assuming you survive the arrest.

And how many of these unregistered machine guns are out there? A reliable source who tells me he’s spoken to former employees and the former owner of the company in question estimates “Approximately 50,000 were manufactured prior to the cut-off.”

It’s absurd.  These are people who will put you away over a malfunctioning semiautomatic rifle that, with prompting and the right ammo, they can manipulate to dangerously slam fire. And these are people who confiscate Airsoft guns on the grounds that “With minimal work, it could be converted to a machine gun.”

One question is automatically raised by this: Why does one group of machinegun owners get privileges and immunities not afforded to all machine gun owners?

And even more basic:

If ATF allows 50,000 or so of these firearms to exist “off the books,” and there’s evidently no problem with that, what’s the whole point of making gun owners jump through hoops, pay to exercise what is supposed to be their unalienable right to keep and bear militia-suitable arms, and have their lives destroyed if they’re found non-compliant?

Such firearms are either extra special dangerous requiring extra special controls or they’re not. And based on results, this challenges the whole (admitted) reason behind the NFA ‘34 registration/tax requirement, the FOPA ‘86 manufacturing date cutoff with resultant artificial inflation of firearm prices, and the entire justification being used to strangle the Firearms Freedom Acts movement in its crib.

It’s just another example of the ongoing federal con job to infringe on our rights, keep gun owners under their boot, and amass self-serving power by falling back on the fraudulent excuse of public safety. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a self-serving liar, a “useful idiot,” or both.

About 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.

David Codrea

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Deplorable Bill

“A well regulated MILITIA, being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The second amendment, THE law of the land. Any law that does not concur with the constitution is null and void as decided by the supreme court in Mayberry vs Madison. That legally settles all other firearms laws as illegal. A militia would obviously use weapons of war. Fully automatic weapons would qualify as such. Add aircraft, naval craft, mines, cannon, munitions etc. The entire government’s LEGAL response to automatic weapons etc. is SHALL NOT BE… Read more »


I was at a gun shop the other day and the subject came up of FA weapons and an employee said everyone should have one that believes in freedom and the 2nd amendment. And then he said, “who says I don’t have one?” LOL!


“The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right.” Nunn vs. State, (1846)


OBVIOUSLY ignored.

Green Mtn. Boy

Remind me again why we have a un Constitutional agency enforcing un Constitutional regulations,Oh yeah because we just give lip service to the Constitution.


The United States is putting together a Constitution now for Iraq. Why
don’t we just give them ours? It’s served us well for 200 years, and we
don’t appear to be using it anymore, so what the hell?”
–Jay Leno (2003)




Correction: NOT “because we just give lip service to the Constitution.”
(because THEY give lip service to America’s Constitution.)


The NFA’s requirement to register and pay a tax on machine guns made after 1986 for the public was ruled unconstitutional by the fifth circuit in 1991. “In sum, since enactment of 18 U.S.C. § 922(o), the Secretary has refused to accept any tax payments to make or transfer a machinegun made after May 19, 1986, to approve any such making or transfer, or to register any such machinegun. As applied to machineguns made and possessed after May 19, 1986, the registration and other requirements of the National Firearms Act, Chapter 53 of the Internal Revenue Code, no longer serve… Read more »

Roland T. Gunner

I like it, but good luck at your trial.




It’s in the bylaws of all the government’s alphabet soup gang. They all do it and are out of control


TO harass our people and eat out their substance…hmm does that have a familiar ring to it?

Roland T. Gunner

Not a new question, but…how do we make it stop? Voting does not work; our US Senators don’t seem to take it seriously; even if you manage to win in court, which is unlikely, the experience and the expense are crippling, sometimes permanently. When I think about the Forced Reset Trigger witch hunt, I think that if we cannot win this fight, we will not be able to win any future fight, and have lost the war. This is blatantly unconstitutional and criminal, but nobody in our political leadership cares.


How do we make it stop? By banning together and literally fight for our freedom. Which going to Iraq isn’t. Read this:


Problem is they don’t use “tax dollars” they use what they create out of thin air and go after YOU who doesn’t have a money creating machine to use to defend yourself with. So they can bankrupt you which is nothing but tyranny.

Watch um

Suppressive government runs from the lowest level of small towns to Washington DC. Public servant my a**


“3. Conduct undercover operations; participate in interagency task forces.”

The BATFE makes it clear in several different ways that their success in enforcing never-ending gun control is dependent on the cooperation of state/county/city/town enforcers.


1.All lawyers would be ineligible to hold ANY political office, no grandfathering in.
2.Any politician that knowingly lies would be imprisoned, to be determined by the people, if any of the people are found to be corrupt, they would serve the same sentence as the lying politician.
3.Other than the supreme court, all judiciary will be by election only.

Deplorable Bill

Your idea would go a long way in fixing some of America’s problems. Very wise Sir.

Arm up and carry on

Arizona Don

It was announced last night (January 31, 2022) on Fox news that ATF is now collecting documents regarding over a billion gun sales to American citizens. Which is in essence a forced registration of anyone who has purchased a gun legally in the United States since the law was enacted regarding background checks on dealer gun sales. Congress needs to pass a law making such accumulation of individual personal records regarding legal gun sales illegal. Since this is a means of the federal government securing a list of who owns firearms in other words a gun registration list without the gun owners… Read more »


They WANT another civil war because they THINK they can take down the right. They will be sadly mistaken


Rogue Federal Agent. Rogue Federal Agency. Rogue Federal Government. If you are familiar with how administrative law and Code for Federal Regulations works you know one plain truth: stature law is almost irrelevant in our once-Constitutional Republic. Bureaucrats make law, enforce law and oft times do so by end running the judicial system. That is the foundation of a totalitarian state. I guess we now have your attention now that these tactics have hit near and dear to the Second Amendment. Rest assured your Rogue Federal Government is apply these Orwellian standards to every aspect of your life. They may… Read more »


Rogue implies they won’t follow orders. They will now, just like they would have in late 2020.

Absent orders, they will continue being oppressive tyrants. The BATFE is just one example of the Administrative State being used to continually hack away at freedom.

Calling them rogue gives an out to the people to whom they report.


How about we just call it a coup? An armed group making laws and ruling over the country, though specifically excluded from such role by the constitution. When admin circumvents legislative branch, by making laws through ‘reinterpretation’ and circumvents judicial branch, by ignores court rulings, that administration has decided they (and they alone) are the government. ATF routinely behaves as legislature, judge, jury and executioner. If current administration’s antics are not a power grabbing coup I don’t know what is. Am beginning to think we can expect biden to remain in office for the remainder of his life. Good thing… Read more »


If the attorney general tells the BATFE to stop doing bad things, they will stop doing bad things. The attorney general (and therefore the president) is bypassing the legislature by allowing/ordering the BATFE to do the things they are doing. When the BATFE banned bump stocks, they were following orders (Presidential Memorandum from Trump) to do so. When the BATFE started going after braced pistols and 80% frames in late 2020, they did so because they were not ordered to stop. The BATFE is not rogue and they are not conducting a “coup.” They are just tyrannically predisposed people who… Read more »


Response on hold (it’s not a “coup”).

Last edited 11 months ago by JSNMGC

they are following orders, problem is the only follow orders from demorat party , look at fbi attacking trump they never went after billery so maybe rogue is correct. following orders from outside


“they are following orders, problem is the only follow orders from demorat party , look at fbi attacking trump they never went after billery so maybe rogue is correct. following orders from outside”

Trump instructed (via Presidential Memorandum) the BATE to ban bump stocks. They followed his order.

Trump did not order the BATFE to stand down when they pushed hard on braced pistols and 80% frames in late 2020. They kept pushing.


It’s a matter of record – by Trump’s directive, his Presidential Memorandum was placed in the Federal Regsister: “After the deadly mass murder in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017, I asked my Administration to fully review how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulates bump fire stocks and similar devices. . . . Today, I am directing the Department of Justice to dedicate all available resources to complete the review of the comments received, and, as expeditiously as possible, to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.”… Read more »


What kind of BRAIN DEAD MORONS keep voting you down? I wish their names were attached like they are on Fascistbook so we would KNOW who the brain dead zombies are!


would be nice, i do understand atf did what they did for most part because no one said noso criminal actions by government people is acceptable as long as they are not stopped , explain fbi stealing when multiple judges said no and dont touch that


Yes, the Constitution was founded on Common law based in the English bill of rights and the Magna Carta. This statutory “law” is nothing but a blood sucking scam to harass our people and eat out there substance. The major part of the “law enforcement growth industry.” Exactly the same kind of BULLSHIT that the King was using on the colonists only WAY WORSE! We need to get back to common law where a FELONY is a heinous crime not the mere possession of an object. Common Law was based on Laws where VICTIMS are involved. I heard a dumb… Read more »


The major Tennessee case, Andrews v. State, (1871), held that citizens have an individual right to bear arms, unrelated to militia service, and the kinds of weapons protected are those that are part of the ordinary military equipment. “The citizen has, at all times, the right to keep the arms of modern warfare, and to use them in such manner as they may be capable of being used, without annoyance and hurt to others, in order that he may be trained and efficient in their use.”

Country Boy

“Assuming you survive the arrest.”
And that’s assuming a lot with todays ATF.


Mr. Cordrea,
How was the bureaucratic office of the AFT(Bidet) made an official Office in OUR government?
Who authorized the ATF?
Was it Congress who authorized the bureaucracy or not?
When did the bureaucratic office of the ATF begin to INFRINGE upon the RIGHTS of Legal Law Abiding American Citizens?
My understanding is that this OFFICIAL INFRINGMENT of Our RIGHTS came about because of the “Valentine Massacre” and other murders committed by CRIMINALS who were WANTON to harm others.
Correct me if I am in error.

Wild Bill

I have an answer to that, but your question is addressed to Mr. Codrea. And if you only trust Codrea’s answer, well … I will respect that.

Arizona Don

Laddyboy; If in fact the tenth amendment is still in effect (or for that matter any of the constitution) the BATF is an illegal agency if it is not specifically listed in the constitution as a federal agency authority. Most if not all of the federal agencies now in power here in the US are and have been illegal since their inception if the constitution does not specifically give permission to the federal government to enact such an agency it/they are the responsibility of the states! That is according to the tenth amendment!   Both political parties have ignored the tenth amendment for… Read more »

Wild Bill

Please see Article I, section 8, clause 1


How you can get that distorted view out of that is beyond me. Sort of like the way “Christians’ distort Romans 13 these days. Clause ONE?That may be what they DISTORT to EXTORT powers, but it doesn’t nullify the 10th amendment or any other amendment. You can’t use it to make an agency which has as it’s only function to violate the 2nd amendment. Just like clause 5. Show me how THAT clause allows the creation of the Federal Reserve which is where the major screwing of the American public began after they nullified the first 13 words of the… Read more »


Talk about inconsistnent enforcement. How that Hunter Biden gets a free ride”? And the little guy is hunted down like prey if he fails to dot an I or cross a T.