WASHINGTON, DC –-(Ammoland.com)-Today, surrounded by anti-gun advocates and politicians, President Joe Biden announced new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulations surrounding unfinished frames and receivers.
The new rule will go into effect 180 days from today. It will deal with the manufacture and sale of 80% firearms. Those kits currently in possession of gun owners will not require serialization unless the owner takes it to a gunsmith to have work done to it. The gunsmith would have to serialize the frame to work on it. Also, if the gun owner sells the gun to a licensed dealer (FFL), that firearm will have to be serialized.
It will affect the sale of popular kits from companies such as Polymer80 and JSD Supply. All frames and receivers that are transferred must be serialized, and all commercial sellers must be federally licensed firearms dealers. The kits buyer must fill out an ATF Form 4473 for each receiver.
President Biden set out on his crusade against what he referred to as “ghost guns.” The ATF relates to these products as privately manufactured firearms (PMF). Last April, the President gave the ATF 30 days to develop new rules surrounding unfinished frames and receivers. This act of political theater was to appease anti-gun advocates that were disheartened by the lack of action against guns.
When President Biden was elected, anti-gun advocates expected swift action through Congress since Democrats control both chambers and the executive branch. The filibuster had to be removed in the Senate to get anything through Congress. Through heavily lobbying by gun rights groups, Senate Joe Manchin (D-WV) and others held firm to their pledge not to remove the filibuster.
This inaction forced President Biden to act through executive action. Like President Trump’s action against Bump Stocks, Biden ordered the ATF to change the rules dealing with 80% firearm kits and pistol stabilizing devices. Most in the gun community saw this as the ATF making a de facto law to ban a product that the President did not like.
Members of Congress have spoken out against the new rule. Thomas Massie argues that the federal government doesn’t have the right to prevent someone from making their own firearm. The Congressman also takes issue with what he sees as the President making laws in violation of the US Constitution.
Massie’s tweet reads: “The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm. This is a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years. Also, Article 1, Section 1 (literally the first operative sentence in the Constitution) says Congress makes law, not POTUS!”
The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm. This a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years. Also, Article 1, Section 1 (literally the first operative sentence in the Constitution) says Congress makes law, not POTUS! pic.twitter.com/vTFRvKYTVi
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 11, 2022
The ATF will argue that the new rule doesn’t prevent someone from making a homemade firearm. The Bureau is going after what it sees as readily convertible kits. Readily convertible is not explicitly explained in the new rule. What readily convertible entails is left up to the ATF, but it is rumored that the ATF considers anything that takes less than eight hours to convert will be regarded as readily convertible. That ambiguity was a complaint that was not addressed in the new rule. This ambiguity can lead to an abuse of Chevron deference.
Chevron deference means that if a rule is ambiguous, then the agency in charge will get to interpret the regulation how they see fit. It dates to a case dealing with the EPA and Chevron oil. It was never used in a criminal statute until the bump stock rule.
Cody Wilson once said, “3D printing will make gun control obsolete.” He might be right. Gun builders can use readily available STL files to print their own frames using commercially available 3D printers. These printers, such as the Ender 3, can be picked up on sale for as little as $99. Wilson also sells a home CNC machine called the Ghost Gunner and released code a week before SHOT Show, making it possible to mill out 0% lowers on the Ghost Gunner 3.
“This is an illegal rewrite of federal statute,” Wilson told AmmoLand News. “Fortunately, we have been preparing since January with the 0% lowers. With 3D printing and home milling, gun builders will still be able to proceed forward with little change.”
Gun Owners of America (GOA) and Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) have already formulated plans to sue over the new rule. The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is exploring a lawsuit targeting the new rule.
“We do not believe that the Biden Administration has the legal authority to redefine what a gun is,” Alan Gottlieb, SAF Executive Vice President, told AmmoLand News. “Only Congress has that authority. This is a blatant attempt to usurp the constitution. Our attorneys are exploring a lawsuit.”
The White House did not return AmmoLand’s request for comment at the time of publishing.
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.