ATF Posts Open Letter on New Definition of Firearm ‘Final Rule’

Images from ATF Letter on “Final Rule”

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-– On September 27, 2022, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued an open letter to all Federal Firearms Licensees.  The letter is available online.

The letter is seven pages long and includes several images.  The purpose of the letter is explained in the first paragraph. From the atf.gov:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is issuing this open letter to further assist the firearms industry and the public in understanding whether a “partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional” receiver of an AR-15/M-16 variant weapon has reached a stage of manufacture such that it “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional receiver, and is therefore classified as a “frame or receiver” or “firearm” in accordance with the final rule titled “Definition of ‘Frame or Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms (Final Rule 2021R-05F), which became effective August 24, 2022. In particular, the following addresses items that are clearly identifiable as an unfinished component part of a weapon—specifically, partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional AR-type receivers (also known as receiver ‘billets’ or ‘blanks’).

The “Final Rule” is being contested in the courts. In North Dakota, Judge Peter D. Welte accepted the ATF definition of a firearm in the Final Rule, at least in his refusal to issue a temporary injunction against the implementation of the rule. The rule might still be found to be unlawful in the court case.

In the Northern District of Texas, Judge Reed O’Conner found the ATF exceeded its authority, and issued a limited injunction against implementation of the rule.  From the opinion:

1.The Final Rule exceeds ATF’s statutory authority under the plain language of the Gun Control Act.

The Administrative Procedure Act requires courts to “hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be … in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations.”5 U.S.C. §706(2)(C). Plaintiffs argue the Final Rule exceeds ATF’s statutory authority under the Gun Control Act in two ways. First, Plaintiffs argue that the Final Rule expands ATF’s authority over parts that may be “readily converted” into frames or receivers, when Congress limited ATF’s authority to “frames or receivers” as such. Second, Plaintiffs argue that the Final Rule unlawfully treats weapon parts kits as firearms. Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on both claims.

The letter by ATF explaining the Final Rule does not mention the ongoing court cases.  It reiterates ATF’s position that association with tools and jigs, instructions or guides, can make a non-firearm into a firearm.

From page 3 of the letter:

Thus, in order not to be considered “readily” completed to function, ATF has determined that a partially complete AR-type receiver must have no indexing or machining of any kind performed in the area of the trigger/hammer (fire control) cavity. A partially complete AR-type receiver with no indexing or machining of any kind performed in the area of the fire control cavity is not classified as a “receiver,” or “firearm,” if not sold, distributed, or marketed with any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, or guides, such as within a receiver parts kit.

On page 6, the ATF emphasizes that information and tools which make the creation of a frame or receiver easier, are now considered items which make an incomplete part a firearm:

However, the above analysis only applies to partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional frames or receivers without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials. Pursuant to Final Rule 2021R-05F, partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional frames or receivers that are sold, distributed, possessed with such items (or made available by the seller or distributor to the same person) may change the analysis, including those distributed as frame or receiver parts kits. 27 CFR 478.12(c). For example, jigs, templates, or instructions can provide the same indexing as if it were placed directly on the unfinished frame or receiver.

At the end of the letter, the ATF adds further warnings about how unfinished frames or receivers are considered “defense articles”, and subject to permits for export or import. From page 7:

Further, although unfinished frames or receivers that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under GCA provisions, they are still considered “defense articles” on the U.S. Munitions Import List and, therefore, require an approved Application and Permit for Importation of Firearms, Ammunition and Implements of War (ATF Form 6) for importation into the United States under 27 CFR 447.41; 447.22, and are also subject to export controls.1

In the old Soviet Union, typewriters had serial numbers and were tightly controlled by the state. Information was tightly controlled.  In the United States, the distribution of information is protected by the First Amendment.

The ATF is asserting that tools and information on how to make frames or receivers are, essentially frames and receivers. This is an unprecedented expansion of government control over the private making of firearms, never before existing in the United States.

The injunction by Judge O’Conner

Judge O’Conner sees the major expansion of power by the government. He believes the ATF does not have the authority to do so.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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warfinge

There is a desperation to get gun control jammed through with this administration. In the rush to “DO SOMETHING!!” about “Gun Violence” The ATF is kinda spastic. Sudden goading is making them babble nonsense. `Biden’s masters know whatever they can get away with will likely stick forever more with Republicans never rolling anything back when they have the power. This is the tyranny the founders warned us about and the very reason the 2A was written. I am curious to see what America will do. If not now, when will the line be crossed?

Boom

Exactly.

musicman44mag

I think it is coming soon and the 2024 election will be it. I know if a republican wins, especially Donald Trump, there will be peaceful protests in the streets like before because the left has already proven their propensity for violence if they don’t get what they want and the left is already priming the pump saying republicans are trying to change the country and end the constitution when in fact they are the ones already doing it. The president has spoken making the rules of engagement and providing the blessing of a legal killing of MAGA republicans by… Read more »

Ope

music, have you been reading about the Trump attacks on Desantis? Trump is really going after Desantis hard, really hard. These attacks make the ones against Jeb Bush look mild five years ago.. It looks like he’s already trimming down the field for ‘24 and hasn’t even announced yet.

musicman44mag

No I haven’t because I have been very busy. I want him to take Kristi Noem anyway. I really hate all the attacks on anyone left or right unless it is on different political opinions or actions of the individual not the person. Obiden taking Kamalatoe was mind blowing to me after how she treated him and what she said about him. I wouldn’t want anyone near me that felt that way about me and this oh but it’s politics is BS. It’s like some that say, oh you can’t believe everything I said when I was running, I am… Read more »

Ope

music, the two names never mentioned in the Bush households are Perot and Trump. Liz Cheney despises Trump because of the way he destroyed Jeb and the entire Bush family a few years back. Kristi Noem would be an excellent running mate with Trump, plus she’s a very attractive woman. (In my opinion) It will be interesting for sure.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ope
musicman44mag

I don’t care how she looks but she is pretty I will admit. It’s what she didn’t do when the mask mandate came, its what she didn’t do when the where are z papers old man to go into a restaurant or a movie came, it’s what she did do when it came to boys competing in girls’ sports. After Trump is done with his second term, She can be the first woman president, not one that looks like a dyke and has to be a person of color. I wonder if Trump could be her vice? That would be… Read more »

Boom

No female presidents.

musicman44mag

I’m not going to argue but if we did have to have a female wouldn’t you prefer her or would you like hitlary or michelle better?

Ope

Hillary is still a very bitter and angry bull dyke. It won’t be running in ‘24.

Boom

She’s just as dangerous as they are. One of the main reasons we’re at this point in the timeline, is because we’ve allowed certain amendments to the Constitution… I hear all this talk about reading the Constitution in it’s originality… I’m going to skip a bunch of stuff here, so instead of learning our lessons we doubled down on it, say oh well this one’s okay… Yeah, I get it.. she’s fine. She appears to have conservative views.. doesn’t mean that I’m going to find myself compromising to the lesser of the evils. I promise you, she is just crazy… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Boom
Boom

She’s fine too.

musicman44mag

I like Palin too. I think if McCain would have gone for vice and have her for president we might have stood a better chance.

3%er

With traitor and full time coward McCain even on the ticket, it was just a concession to obanana.

musicman44mag

Thats how I felt too but I vote for Palin not Mc Cain.

3%er

Music, I have voted for a few candidates in my lifetime who I absolutely despised personally. Voting for coward and traitor McCain was the most sickening vote I ever had to make.

musicman44mag

Me too. When he took on Palin though I loved her dearly, I knew we blew it. I really think if anyone has a woman for president it will be the demonratttss first but I don’t want them to have that record too. If it comes down to battle of the girls and one guy and two are republicans, we will have a RAT for president.

I would rather have any of the republican women mentioned today than a RAT president again, EVER!!!!!!!

3%er

Music, I also think Palin is an awesome lady. But the problem is she will always be associated with that loser, coward, and traitor McCain. It’s kind of like an actor being type cast in Hollywood.

musicman44mag

That very well could be. I was surprised that she didn’t get the senate seat. Maybe what you are saying is the reason. Its to bad that it works out that way. I can’t see anyone passing on an opportunity to be vice president. Kamalatoe is a perfect example. OH, I hate my boss because he is a racist and he made me ride on the bus to a school where people didn’t want me. You want me for vice president? You bet your sweet bippi I will take it. I have no morals or pride when it comes to… Read more »

Bill

Sarah Palin didn’t get appointed to the AK senate seat because Mukulski’s father was elected governor and had to vacate the senate seat. He then appointed his daughter to fill the remainder of his term!

Bill

The McCain entourage did everything they could to screw over Sarah Palin and relegate her to the background. She was the only good thin in the McCain campaign!. McCain was a miserable Navy “pilot” and a worse senator!

musicman44mag

Boom, I received a very long email that was your post but it is gone now. It is not on the message board. I understand how you feel and what you are saying but times have changed and there is no way we will ever go back. We need to adapt and do the best we can to get the right person in there. People are dying and crying to have a female president. I am sure it is not long before that happens and if it does I would prefer someone who stands up for the second amendment. I… Read more »

Boom

That’s because I went to edit it for some grammatical errors…and it then moderated it, I guess it sensed how “hateful” it was…. But yeah, I thought something like that would be your response, on account for nice, and thoughtful you are … And you are right, on many of the measures… You’re right, we can’t go back, because we as a people are dumb. Just like the gun laws won’t go back… But once we get into a real war, and we start losing decisive battle after decisive battle, because of inept female leadership; or line-rep… Then I guess… Read more »

musicman44mag

Well, maybe I have commiefornia genetics I guess because my wife can teach anyone how to fully tear down an AR, XDM 40 Hellcat 9, sig saure P938, Ruger 22, Marlin 22 and a Henry 22, clean them all and put em back together. She is a getter done gal. Loves fishing and just can’t shoot a deer anymore but is great a great shot and very good at taking down numbers from the chronograph and logging them. If we were starving, she wouldn’t hesitate to shoot dinner. She knows the difference between phillips and standard and the sizes not… Read more »

Boom

This is by far the longest post or reply I have seen ever you make.

I’m glad there is someone you love, and that that has made you complete…and that has made life what it could be.

musicman44mag

Well thank you. I hope whatever your wishes are that you get your dream come true too. I actually edited it and made it shorter. I get long winded at times because I am very opinionated and think that everyone needs to know at least what I think or how I feel.

To me it is important because hearing ideas might change someone’s mind. Thats why I like Ammoland. I hear plenty of thought and ideas different than my own and it expands how I think of stuff and I feel most of the time for the better.

Take care.

3%er

music, let’s get Lauren Boebert in the WH after President Trump completes his last term. Trump might even pick that young girl as his VP running mate in ‘24.

musicman44mag

I could go for her being vice and president too. Anyone the left hates so much and is trying so hard to get rid of must be the right person for the job. Trump is the example.

3%er

Oldvet, absolutely,.. me too!

Bill

You are correct Re Perot; but we would have been in a much better place had Ross Perot won. He would have been a whole lot better president than Bush #1 ever was!

musicman44mag

Oh no s***t. The Bushes were a joke all the way from Read My Lips, No New Taxes. Oh, I made a mistake we can’t do that should have been the beginning of his exit. Then we hired his son. Twice as stupid but better than any democrat.

Bill

Barely better.

Oldman

44mag, You gotta remember that senile as determined by Obiden, is a trip to Egypt. Lieden has never made a choice about anything since deciding to run for Prez. I don’t have any idea why Kamaltoe was picked, but I sure as Hell know J Brandon didn’t do it. If Biden doesn’t slow down on Russia we will soon be having a Nuclear War and there are NO victors in that scenario.

musicman44mag

I have a rock song I wrote about nuclear war and it is called there ain’t no more heroes at ground zero. I know what you mean.

3%er

Oldman, it’s sure good to see you back online. I haven’t see you here for awhile. I sure hope you been doing well.

Oldman

Well, I have been online a bit, just not very much, lately. I have been quite busy. But I read the topics daily and up vote some people and don’t even think about down voting anyone because my two pseudo intellectual ‘friends’ have not been around and that makes my blood pressure a little more normal. Maybe we all are cured, eh?

Wild Bill

Same here! Getting ready for winter! Hay is all in. Staining and sealing the porches around the house. Horse shoeing and hoof trimming is over for a while. We are grateful for the cooler weather. Looking forward to the Holidays.

Oldman

OV, I have to agree. O’Bummer even had the gall to tell silly ass Joe not to run. Said you don’t have to do this, Joe. Followed by the Brutus move to tell the world that it should not underestimate Joe’s ability to F##k everything up! I would say it is some kind of symbiotic relationship that only rats know. Well, Joe better get used to it cuz he ain’t nothing but a glimmer in the eye of the the Kenyan Muslim.

Boom

It also makes succession easier.

Cam

The ATF reminds me of when going to lifeguard training. They explained that when someone who was drowning would become so irrational with fear that they would end up drowning the rescuer and themselves.
Looks like that’s what going on with them.

musicman44mag

They also taught us how to knock out the person or restrain them and still float.

Arizona

BATFE can suck a bag of phalluses. The unconstitutional agency has zero authority to redefine words in statute, nor to alter law, nor make or alter criminal law. We will keep the previous definitions of rifle, firearm, suppressor, readily, receiver, etc, and they can go try performing anatomically impossible acts on themselves.

gregs

i won’t even do that. most of what they define is unlawful anyways. don’t give them a mile, don’t give them an inch. they get nothing. well, maybe…

Jaque

Its here. The Communist Police State has arrived. Joe Biden is the face, but his masters are brains. This rule can be transferred to most any item regulated by the government. Household chemicals and a book of chemisry and pyrotechnics, explosives information printed off the internet, or Youtube instructions all can be determined to be posession of illegal explosives.

Will a shovel, a drill press, welding torch, and plans to form an AK reciever now become material posession of a machine gun. You bet

The Federal Government is now the enemy of freedom. Every day this is evident.

fireball4

Hence the saying ‘shit for brains.

Bill

Hopefully the SC ruling against the EPA regulatory over-reach will be applied to the BATFE and other overbearing lettered agencies!

USMC0351Grunt

That was WV vs. EPA

Bill

SC = Supreme Count, Sir. I’m too lazy to type much.
Regards,
Bill

Iconic One

Imagine being so politically driven, that you believe this is a cogent legal position.

Boom

Wow, yeah.

Green Mtn. Boy

My thought is the letter is in a effort to keep their auto key card case alive,I could be mistaken but put nothing past the AFT in ifringements.

Boom

That is a rather astute point. Good on you.

nrringlee

If you think the problem of exceeding statutory limits is restricted to the ATF I have some late breaking news for you. The Federal bureaucracy has exceeded statutory authority on nearly every front and has done so for decades. Legislators and executives simply shrug and submit rather than restrict bureaucrats. This is how tyranny begins. Petty tyrants in the bureaucracy declare war on one liberty or another and use their previously limited authority to go after anyone or anything they happen to personally dislike. This is exactly how repressive laws of the Jim Crow era worked. Progressives have mastered the… Read more »

swmft

atf should be disband, and the people pushing infringments and unlawful rules and actions jailed under title 18 the law is clear, the criminals will not jail themselves

harebare

Can’t wait to see the ATF abolished for their abuse of power.

3%er

…..and NFA rescinded.

Montana454Casull

Your site will not let me post the meme I want too ! If the ATF can change the classification than so can I . My AR is now a fishing pole !

Boom

I DECLASSIFIED!

I UNILLEGALIZED !

musicman44mag

If you put a string and a hook on it, who’s to say it’s not.

You forgot; I will add it for you. FJB

Arny

Just refer to it as the Mariner, LOL

musicman44mag

It really gets me how screwed up our system is. Whatever it is, if it is against the law or the constitution, they will do it anyway because they feel they have the right and it can be challenged in court. Obummer vs the people and DACA. So many things in this new administration are we will do what we want and you need to challenge it in a court of law in order to stop us but in the meantime, your screwed. We need to change that. We need a new law that says whenever something is put in… Read more »

Bill

Maybe if enough Constitution-supporting folks get elected in November and 2024, this could happen. It really would be a really good step toward really being a country run under the Constitution; not power-loving bureaucrats and politicians!

musicman44mag

AMEN to that. God willing.

Bigfootbob

If there was ever a case that would make a person dust off their barely used voter registration card, join or start a local GOP group, volunteer to be a ballot/poll watcher at the county elections office and start helping our friends and neighbors vote and vote smartly, this is it.

Molon AABE

Since when does the ATF make laws? That is what Congress is for. What about the Judge in California who ruled that a receiver without a trigger or barrel attached is NOT A FIREARM? On or about October 19, 2019, this is what the Judge stated after deliberating for more than a year, US District Court Judge James V. Selna determined that because an AR-15 lower receiver does not house the bolt or breechblock and is not threaded to the barrel, as defined in 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, it does not constitute a “receiver” and cannot be considered a “firearm” under federal… Read more »

The-Swiss

Would a simple slab of aluminum in a jig now also be a firearm as per the AFT?

TStheDeplorable

The legislative history of the statutes that the ATF relies on for the authority to make this rule is clear: “readily completed” means something like a drop-in auto sear, which requires no tools or modification of parts of the firearm.

gregs

under NO circumstances will i comply with this unlawful edict.
scotus just ruled epa v wv that regulatory agencies cannot write law. these autocrats (authoritarian bureaucrats) are far exceeding their statutory limitations.

Bill

This is looking like a freedom of speech issue. Calling anything an “80% Lower” indicates a possible future for it, so we may be required by government to use inert terms like “paper weight,” or be in violation of Federal law. Tyranny creeps in through every imaginable crack and crevice.

Rick

I just wish to God, yes, God, that Donald would re-think his position and make amends with Ron. What a powerful ticket that would be for us semi-fascist deplorables! Or am I just getting Bidened? Oops, I meant senile!

Ope

Rick, President Trump is just thinning out the field so to speak. He looks at Desantis as an ungrateful obstacle in ‘24. Trump can be a ruthless, go for the jugular ole boy when he wants to. Remember what he done to Jeb Bush and the entire Bush family a few years back? He’s just getting started too. How would you like to negotiate a business deal with Trump?

Rick

Personally, I’m not smart enough to negotiate with Bozo the Clown. I understand what Trump is doing. Just looking at the GOP’ers that are already dividing and wishing that it would be uniting instead. It really won’t matter in 2024 anyway they have all this time to get the big tech boys to get the voting machines to have every Republican vote automatically cast 2 for the Damns. Oh oh, I here the FBLie cummin’ up my driveway. Goodbye cruel world!!