Franklin Armory and FRAC Sue the ATF for APA Violations

Franklin Armory Reformation Firearm
Franklin Armory Reformation Firearm

BISMARCK, N.D. -( Franklin Armory and the Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc. (FRAC) have filed a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) over what the plaintiffs allege are wrongful classification of firearms and regulatory delays.

The plaintiffs’ first claim in Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc., et al. v. Merrick B. Garland, et al. is that the ATF wrongfully classified Franklin Armory’s FAI-15 Antithesis as a short-barreled rifle (SBR). The Antithesis is an AR-15-like firearm with a rifled barrel capable of firing both .410 shotshells and .45 Long Colt rounds. The ATF classified the firearm as an SBR under the Gun Control Act (GCA) and the National Firearms Act (NFA). The plaintiffs claim that the gun doesn’t meet the ATF definition of an SBR under the GCA or the NFA.

Under both the NFA and the GCA, the ATF considers a firearm as a rifle only if it is “designed . . . and intended . . . to fire only a single projectile.” The plaintiffs argued that since the gun fires .410 shotgun shotshells, it cannot be considered a rifle since the shell consists of multiple projectiles. The firearm also does not meet the definition of a short-barreled shotgun (SBS) under the NFA because the barrel is rifled.

Franklin Armory and FRAC claim that the ATF’s classification was arbitrary and capricious. They claim that the ATF abused its discretion by acting outside the letter of the law.

The plaintiffs’ second claim deals with delays in the ATF for creating a statutorily required process for manufacturers and federal firearms licensees (FFL) to seek authorization to sell, deliver, and transport SBSs under the GCA across state lines. There currently isn’t a process in place for firearms that are considered SBSs under the GCA but are not considered SBSs under the NFA.

The need for a process stems from the introduction of the Franklin Armory Reformation in 2017. The Reformation consisted of a barrel with lands and grooves, which means that it is classified as an SBS under the GCA, but since it fired a traditional rifle round as well as a proprietary cartridge instead of a shotgun shell, it is not considered an SBS under the NFA. In 2019 the ATF informed Franklin Armory and the public through an open letter that it would develop a process for companies to get permission to transfer these firearms to non-licensees.

Franklin Armory claims that the delay has caused the company significant financial harm. According to the plaintiffs, the ATF hasn’t seemed to have made any progress in developing the process it promised to create and deploy. The ATF also hasn’t given any reason for the nearly four-year delay. The plaintiffs’ lawyers also point out the indisputable fact that the American public has been deprived of the opportunity to buy the Reformation.

“The ATF’s classification of Antithesis overlooks the plain and clear language of the statute in favor of their own politically motivated interpretation, and its extraordinary delay in creating the procedures and forms necessary for the Reformation series of firearms to be sold in the marketplace has caused Franklin Armory significant financial harm,” said Franklin Armory President Jay Jacobson. “We have spent years attempting to resolve this matter without litigation. This lawsuit rightfully challenges the ATF’s egregious inaction and overreach, and seeks to ensure that not only Franklin Armory, but all industry members are treated fairly, accurately, and in accordance with the laws enacted by Congress.”

The plaintiffs claim that the ATF violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and has asked the North Dakota Federal District Court for relief. FRAC and Franklin Armory want the court to set aside and declare the ATF’s classification of the FAI-15 Antithesis unlawful. They want the ATF to issue a classification consistent with statutory requirements and the evidence before the agency within thirty days. They also want the court to order the ATF to “[i]ssue procedures authorizing the sale, delivery, and interstate transportation of weapons classified as short-barreled shotguns under only the GCA” within thirty days.

Washington D.C. legal powerhouse Wiley Rein, LLC, represents Franklin Armory and FRAC.

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

John Crump

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Green Mtn. Boy

Remind me where in the Constitution the AFT/ATF is authorized,


I think it is in very fine print in between the words “shall not be infringed “.


Nah – it is in the part where only muskets are ‘allowed’ (insert eyeroll here)


Alcohol and Tabasco Taxes.When Congtress wanted to ” do something” about gangsters created by Prohibition they wanted to ban a lot of guns. US ATTORNEY GENERAL ARMSTRONG testified that Congress had no power to ban any guns. He suggested that a Tac on guns the wanted to ban, just like drugs were taxed, like Alcohol and Drugs ( stopped all the drug probkem, didn’t it?) So gun taxes were IRS with a firearms division. So ATF. NOW ATFE because they’ve included explosives. Of course that prevents making explosives. Soon I expect they’ll pass a tax on airline highjacking to stop… Read more »


This all might b accurate as far as it goes. BUT.. look back to the Whiskey Rebellion of around 1820 or so. FedGov’s first atempt at taxing product as it was made. Din’t forget “taxation without representation” was a very early rallying cry pre-revolution. So FedGov early on went on a tear to tax things made especially by “little people” who were not able so much to resist or fight back. The whiskey industry was a response to simple logistics: corn in the ear would fetch maybe two dollars the bushel transported out of the hills and hollers to markets.… Read more »


First American Revolution over taxation without representation.
Second American Revolution over taxation BY representation….and a plethora of other tyranny..
Careful what one asks for. Same as the “in common use” concept, which may be implemented to preclude access to future firearm developments…..they aren’t now in common use. At the time of the penning the 2A, breach loaders, metallic cartridges, semi-autos, et el were not in common use.

The Crimson Pirate

911 stopped hijacking.

Prior to that we were always told to cooperate with hijackers. After 911 no one will ever trust a hijacker again. And since 2001 we have seen multiple people get the $hit beat out of them trying to do stupid $hit on planes (shoe bomber, underwear bomber, etc)




It’s probably somewhere in their Oath of Allegiance around

“I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and GOVERNMENT;”


Good one.

Joe R.

2nd Para. of The Declaration of Independence recites your 4th Enumerated Right as the Right to chuck your [“any”] government “whenever” you deem necessary. It’s the only enumerated Right to be repeated 2 x [and implied a 3rd x in the opening paragraph] and the only one with a recited associated “duty” to exercise. Government has no authority to regulate your means to overthrow them [as that’s what our Founders were doing, VIOLENTLY AND WITH AFORETHOUGHT, when they wrote that]. Thus, the 2nd Amendment demands ≥ PARITY of Arms with our government, and it’s not our fault what that parity… Read more »


how far can we chuck them…or just into a volcano works


Sign me up. After 44+ years of voting for the lesser of two evils, I’ve had enough.


when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


The largest criminal element resides within the United states Federal government. Then the financial institutions are next .


I would disagree, but I won’t die on this hill. I tend to side with former General Ike as he called out what he named “the military-industrial complex” He, being a general knew far better than most, including (especially?) politicians.


Read the book “One Nation Under Blackmail” (even just the first few chapters) to see how entangled are the “banksters”, .gov/.mil intelligence, the judicial and organized crime.


it will be interesting to see the verbal hurdles batfe is going to use to overcome this suit. according to their own words (definitions) they should lose this litigation. but, government (agencies and judges closely affiliated) so we will see.


The very concept that any company or person has to “get permission to transfer these firearms” from anyone, let alone some illegal agency, fills me with disgust, contempt and anger.


Free people ask for no permission.

Watch um

When will a class action lawsuit be filed against the ATF and every gun owner be a participant in the lawsuit. I am 80 years old and I would love to see the unAmerican gun hating ATF done away with before I die. All those organizations that are filing independent lawsuits need to join in with us and get the ball rolling. I am willing and have for years supported the NRA, GOA and others who believe in the Constitution to take up arms ( pen and ink). I am willing and will continue to put my money where my… Read more »


This is exactly why the bureaucrats of all shapes and sizes ‘prefer’ to use the rules/regulations route rather than actually enacting laws via the legislative process. Rules/regulations (once codified in the CFRs) have the force of laws but are so loosely worded and/or ambiguous that those same bureaucrats can twist them any way they want to ‘mean’ anything they want them to.


“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted… The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28