ATF Shifting Goalposts Again on Firearm Receivers

Brownells Polymer80 Frames For Glock-Style Pistols
Brownells Polymer80 Frames For Glock-Style Pistols

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- The BATFE has released a letter to FFLs and the public, “clarifying” their new rules regarding so-called “80% receivers,” which were adopted earlier this year. The general understanding within the industry has been that the new regulation had the impact of requiring “unfinished receivers” to be treated as “firearms” if they were sold together with the parts and tools needed to turn them into functional firearms. The industry responded by separating the “unfinished receivers” from the tools and parts kits and selling them separately, with no jigs, tools, or any other parts needed to finish them. The regulatory changes were not authorized by Congress and are currently being challenged in court as an unconstitutional overstep by the BATFE.

This new letter moves the goalposts yet again. Now they are claiming that, with regard to “unfinished receivers” for striker-fired handguns, they consider these “partially completed receivers” to be “readily convertible” into functional receivers, and therefore they must be treated exactly the same as completed receivers. This means the manufacturers are now required to be licensed by the government to manufacture and sell guns and that each receiver be marked with a serial number and manufacturer information, sold only through licensed firearm dealers. Now purchasers will be subjected to identification and background checks.

The letter graciously invites anyone unsure whether the “unfinished receiver” they own or are manufacturing meets the nebulous criteria of being “readily convertible” into a firearm to send them a sample. They’ll be happy to let you know…eventually.

What they absolutely refuse to do, is publish a clear definition of exactly where the line is between a “receiver” and a “receiver-shaped object.” For several years they had a relatively clear standard, with people occasionally testing the borders of the standard.

It was understood that, as long as certain holes were not drilled, and certain sections weren’t machined to size and shape, the item was a paperweight, regardless of what tools, parts, or accessories might come along with it and regardless of how it might be advertised. Manufacturers who made “80% receivers” with drill hole positions marked were slapped down, as were those who manufactured their items with two separate colors and densities of polymer, which the BATFE said were too easy to finish. And some manufacturers loudly marketed their products as complete, do-it-yourself, “untraceable” gun kits, requiring no background checks or any registration – which really annoyed the control freaks.

The BATFE’s new regulations, adopted last April, threw much of the previously established understanding right out the window.

It cracked down on advertising that promoted the items as a way of avoiding gun control laws and required that “kits” be treated like guns, regardless of how complete or incomplete the receiver might be. But that wasn’t good enough for them, so now they have gone a step further, redefining “receiver” to include “unfinished receivers,” which they say are “readily convertible” into “receivers.”

The BATFE’s “reimagined” interpretations of the Gun Control Act of 1968 were already a serious overstep of their authority. The entire federal gun control regulatory scheme was unconstitutional from the get-go, not just for its violation of the Second Amendment, but for Congress’s failure to do their job of fleshing out the details of their legislation, instead delegating the lion’s share of that work to bureaucrats in the BATFE.

For the time being, this latest “clarification” of their regulations only applies to “unfinished receivers” for striker-fired handguns, like those made by Polymer 80 and Lone Wolf, but another “clarification” applying the same nebulous standards to “unfinished receivers” for other pistols and rifles, will almost certainly be forthcoming.

All of this nonsense is being challenged in court, but there’s no telling how long it might take for these matters to make their way to the Supreme Court for final resolution. Since the Bruen decision striking down New York’s arbitrary concealed carry requirements and establishing a clear standard for judging Second Amendment cases, it appears that some of the Circuit Courts of Appeal – particularly those that serve anti-rights-dominant areas like New York and California – are intentionally dragging their feet and doing their best to keep Second Amendment challenges from getting to the SCOTUS.

Are they hoping for Democrats to follow through on their threats to “stack the Court,” hoping for hard-line originalists like Justice Clarence Thomas to retire or kick the bucket, or just trying to allow the most damage possible before the eventual smackdown of their hubris? That’s all anyone’s guess, but while we wait for this BS to be rectified, companies like Polymer 80 and Lone Wolf are under the gun and at risk of being driven out of business, criminally prosecuted, or both.

Republican Representatives in Congress need to address this abusive, bureaucratic corruption as soon as the new Congress is seated in January, and not just with a strongly worded – and easily ignored – letter, but with real reform legislation. With Republicans holding a majority in the US House, they should be able to force a bill out of that body in pretty short order. Getting it through the Senate would be a challenge but not an impossibility, and even if they can’t get it through, the attempt would highlight the BATFE’s excesses and inconsistencies.

This type of bureaucratic overreach is a total violation of the process, ideals, and objectives of the founders and must be reined in by Congress. That’s not likely to happen unless your cowardly elected servants hear from you loud, long, and unequivocally. The Congressional Switchboard can be reached by calling 202-224-3121.


About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father, Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona, and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.Jeff Knox

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Ansel Hazen

That’s not likely to happen unless your cowardly elected servants hear from you loud, long, and unequivocally.”

Give it up Jeff. They haven’t been listening for years. They aren’t going to suddenly start when we call them now.

Maybe, and only maybe, a full court press from every gun rights group in the country working to pool their resources but if the courts don’t listen to that the only thing we have left is to listen to what the Founding Fathers told us to do.

USMC0351Grunt

We would have to do a hell of a lot more than just listen to what they told us to do.

Henry Bowman

Exactly… It’s not enough to talk the talk, but to walk the walk. Eventually, the founders stopped petitioning and started fighting. We need to conduct a nut check and get to it. We’ve already suffered a long train of abuses and this regime is destructive of the ends for which our government was established for — the preservation of our liberties. People need to stop being afraid to mention the very thing that needs to be done; if the government is willing to kidnap people in the name of January 6th even if they literally had NO connection whatsoever to… Read more »

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CourageousLion

Aim small, miss small.

Henry Bowman

One shot, one hit.

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Ansel Hazen

I agree. They got it done though didn’t they, and in a lot less forgiving times than now. Imagine doing what they did with horses and their feet.

DIYinSTL

I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, shouldn’t happen, or wouldn’t happen, but think long and hard on your brave words. Your get home bag, bug out bag, and cabin in the woods with 25 guns, 25,000 rounds of ammo and 2 years of MsRE won’t be enough. Unless our wokefied military, half the alphabet agencies and most of the police are on our side it will be nothing more than a limited insurgency. You would have to live like the Taliban for years or even decades. The sitting administration might even accept help from China. Even if you had leaders,… Read more »

Arizona

The biggest problem is the FBATFE redefined “readily” to mean a full 8-hour day in a stocked, staffed and functional machine shop. Under that new definition, they will incrementally ban these, then aluminum 80% AR lowers as firearms,… and then ban all semiautomatic firearms, because you can turn them into full auto in a portion of the day, with the machine shop they presume you have access to. FBATFE will say all semiauto rifles are “readily convertible” into machine guns, and are therefore already machine guns, and are therefore contraband. A block of metal can likewise be manufactured into a… Read more »

USMC0351Grunt

Along with an S.O.T. to SELL. I have a friend who obtained his class 7 FFL but the ATF mistakenly gave him the wrong S.O.T. to where he can manufacture, smith and modify up to full auto all day long but he couldn’t sell anything. How on earth there needs to be TWO different S.O.T.’s is that is left up to the bureaucratic stupidity of those within the unconstitutional bureau.

musicman44mag

Happy New Year. May 2023 bring you good health and prosperity.

warfinge

If we are waiting for the Republicans to save us, we are in more trouble than we think. The anti gun lobby has it’s hooks in the GOP. We have some getting money from both sides. 80% is over. They are rolling in hard on it and there is nothing that can be done because of the time and resources required to combat the ATF in the courts. The ATF can outpace, outspend and create laws on the fly. The system of checks and balances of the ATF’s power cannot work with the ATF using cheat codes. We can complain… Read more »

musicman44mag

I don’t like what you are saying because I fear you could be right. Let’s hope not. We do need to get rid of the Judas Rinos in congress. That would be a good start to straightening out a lot of problems.

2gats

Yea, vote harder. The evil Demonrats have perfected the steal and the Washington General republipussies sell you out at every opportunity. We have no representation. China has better representation in CONgress than American voters / suckers. Both parties are grifters looking to steal everything that isn’t bolted down. These assholes will have nukes incoming to distract us and save themselves from the rightful anger of their “constituents” and as a final solution to their power grab. ”Americans” at some point need to show up in force or it’s over. Your grandchildren will be slaves. ”republicans need to………” It is to… Read more »

Steve

Then start teaching your grandkids to fight – then, they can fight their way out of slavery like generations before them.

Henry Bowman

Why not teach yourself, and not put the burden of fighting and possibly dying on your posterity?!? This is literally the epitome of cowardice!

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Roland T. Gunner

Force of arms.

Henry Bowman

Exactly! You can vote your way into socialism, but you will have to shoot your way out… If you have the will!

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Bill

My new definition of a RINO: Republi-gator; resident of the swamp, to include our own republi-gator John CORNYN1

Oldvet

Bill … Don’t forget graham and mcconell ! Not sure I like what’s his name who wants to be the new speaker .

Oldman

OV, the name that is being called on to get in the race for speaker is Jim Jordan. It seems that McCarthy is finally being recognized for his go along to get along Rino activities. That would suit me just fine.

Henry Bowman

All Republicants are RINOs, with the exception of Chip Roy, Lauren Boebert, and Louie Gohmert. Truth be told, the problem begins locally and goes up from there. There is no difference between any Demopublican or Republicrat, they’re opposite ends of the same beast. They all lie to you at one point or another, and will use any and all sorts of chicanery to stay in office and sell you down the river!

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musicman44mag

I was watching the news and the commentator suggest that we change it to Judas Republicans because of the 18 that turned their back on constituents that voted them in just like the Judas that denied Christ. Seems like an appropriate definition to me but I like Judas Rino’s better.

Oregoneistan

Roland T. Gunner

I have come to hate that shit-weasel.

Henry Bowman

Same with Crawdad Crenshaw. He’s a Tory to America’s patriots; a lobsterback who believes only police & military should be armed, and lied to the people of his ‘safe’ district just to get elected. He continues to lie & gaslight to keep power, and that is why the MSM doesn’t hate on him like Lauren Boebert.
He’s worse than a shît-weasel!!

Last edited 1 month ago by Henry Bowman
Henry Bowman

The uniparty laughs at all who think we can vote our way out of this. How many rigged elections will it take for concerned citizens to see this? We have already had 3 of the 4 boxes of liberty taken from us!!

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Steve

So stock up now before it all begins.

chiefton

BATF does not follow the science of firearms but rather follows the political goals of its keepers. Suppressors are silencers as the firearm is not silenced at all but rather the sound to protect a person’s hearing is reduced. What is a health device doing in a firearms category controlled by those with no medical background. Why do they charge a tax on a constitutional right, the only right in the Bill of Rights that is taxed. Even the Democrat’s Jim Crow voting taxes were overturned by SCOTUS. They call a bump stock fully automatic which is scientifically not true.… Read more »

warfinge

…and yet, those rules are laws. Not written or ratified by congress. Unconstitutional but the constitution has been crippled for awhile now with the Patriot Act which was resigned by the 45th president as well as the 44th and the 46th. You are preaching to the choir brother. What will we do about it? Voting is moot when the infringement comes in two flavors.

Steve

Those “rules” were NOT designed by the ATF. Banning of Private ownership of Machine Guns along with “Silencers” and Sawed off Shotguns back in 1934 and 1938. They did this because LEs back then went after Prohibition era gangsters with .38 Special Revolvers and Pump Shotguns – the gangsters fought with Tommy Guns and BARs….45 Auto and 30.06 – along with some who got their hands on full on .50 Cal MGs, M1 Garands, M1 Carbines etc…The ATF was not formed until 1971-72. Do a little reading before you spout. Makes your comment way more credible.

Bill

Unfortunately, like the GCA of ’68, the “Patriot Act” (which is anything but) is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction which was signed into law by a light-weight, low intellect president (W)!

Roland T. Gunner

I USED to be a fan of Dubya, back in the day.

Ral3312

These Republicans are worst than the democRATS.

And the divorce gets ever closer.

DIYinSTL

How soon will it be until one of these 80% companies makes a hammer fired pistol that’s a bit easier to build than the 1911? A consortium of manufacturers could have all the parts available in less than a year.

Arny

CZ would be nice. lol

UncleT

Good luck getting the GOP to look at and fix anything with the thugs at the ATF. They support these changes as well. Remember, Nixon wanted to ban handguns.

Bill

Republi-gators are the problem!

Boz

The F-atf WANTS it to be vague. Covers more area in their minds.

CaptainR

Please help me understand this. Several companies sell replacement grips for firearms like the P365 where the trigger mechanism is the serialized firearm. Does this new rule mean that people who own a P365 cannot buy replacement grips without being in conflict with the BATF letter?

Roland T. Gunner

How can a cortupt, rogue federal agency be allowed to operate in this fashion?

Why aren’t our representatives raising high holy hell?

ShortyStuff

The problem is that the chicken-$h1t States won’t assert their rights under the 10th Amendment and tell the Feds to stay out of their business, stay out of their State, and go take a flying leap off a tall bridge. Any infringement on the 2nd Amendment should be null and void and the States could enforce it in their jurisdiction if they had the guts.

CourageousLion

I have a brilliant idea! Let’s make murder, robbery, rape, grand theft, burglary, assault, kidnapping, extortion and other things that harm people against the law and quit worrying about objects that do nothing without a person using them in a crime. CRIMES should have victims. WHO is the victim if someone makes their own firearm? Who is the VICTIM if it is made out of plastic or metal? Who is the VICTIM for mere possession of such? I mean aren’t there already ENOUGH idiotic useless “laws” on the books?

Chuck

While my US House Representative is very Pro 2A, unfortunately, my State’s two US Senators are Bennett and Lickshispooper (Hickenlooper). Both are Democrat Anti 2A pieces of schitt. Writing/calling them does no good whatsoever.

Tionico

so I suppose that pile of scrap iron I have in my big dump trailer would require me to be an FFL to own it because all that metal COULD be “readily convertible” to firearms. Never mind I”d need to build a forge to smelt it and refine it, then cast it into billets to then be machined on the antique Bridgeport I also happen to have…..
these guys are knot seas gone berko with their control fetishes. They are becoming more like sado-masochist fetishist perverts by the week. How these clowns sleep at night I will never figure out.

Jaque

Disgustingly its not just the ATF that treat the US Constitution like toilet paper. Its the entire US Government, including the Supreme Court. Yes the Bruen decision was a win but what about the court approving the release of Trumps tax records. And many other rulings against freedom and liberty. All of societies institutions have fallen to Communist control. Most importantly its the Faceless Deep State that makes the decisions, writes the rules, violates the laws, and imposes tyranny upon us. Congress has been servile to the faceless controllers of the American Deep State. Americans have become a fat, weak… Read more »

Ram

A nation of free people is an ongoing horror for the deepstate. There has been an evolution beyond the parameters of an ancient constitution. In my life there has been multiple occasions wherein the BATF has been weaponized against lawful businesses and citizens. I always viewed those occasions as tests to see if the United States had finally reached a tipping point, to be reset into the never-going-to-exist communist utopia. Elections with basement campaigns and pre-determined outcomes. FBI forging a document presentation to the FISA court, for the purpose of running surveillance on a presidential campaigning opposition candidate. Big tech… Read more »