The public comment period on the ATF’s proposed rule dealing with unfinished firearm parts and home-built guns has closed, but another proposed rule that could result in a backdoor ban on millions of lawfully-possessed AR-style pistols is still open for public comment until September 8th. So far nearly 150,000 individuals have submitted their comments, and while I haven’t been able to look over every submission, the dozens that I have examined personally are all opposed to the ATF’s new rule.
Now the Second Amendment Foundation has released a guide to commenting on the new proposal, which will hopefully help other gun owners to sound off on the Biden administration’s attempt to redefine AR-style pistols with stabilizing braces as short barreled rifles that must be registered with the federal government under the auspices of the National Firearms Act.
“Time is running out and we want to provide millions of targeted gun owners the means to weigh in on this alarming proposal,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “ATF wants to reclassify millions of stabilizing brace-equipped pistols by making them subject to the National Firearms Act. If that happens, current owners of such pistols would need to register their guns and pay a $200 tax on each one, or turn it in to the ATF, or take one of several other undesirable options.”
In addition to helping guide gun owners through the process of submitting a comment, SAF also provided their own comments in opposition to the ATF’s proposal. By no means do you have to get as specific and detailed as the SAF did in its remarks, but there are lots of good nuggets of information in the SAF comments that other gun owners can help amplify in their own submissions.
Under the proposed scheme, a pistol must not be too long or too short. It must not be too light or too heavy. A configuration can be penalized for having sights and for not having sights. And while ATF provided three examples in the proposed rule to illustrate its proposed scoring methodology, the examples instead illustrate how seemingly identical firearms can be subject to vastly different government controls. All this, and the deficiencies identified below, show how ATF’s proposed point scoring scheme overcomplicates what is already an overly complicated matter, setting the stage for more confusion.
… ATF must stop interpreting the law one way for one person or company and differently for others. Stabilizing braces and pistols are simple items in common use. To the extent ATF knows all the design features it intends to control, it must not disclose some features and keep others secret, locked away in the desk draw of some unidentified government official until an enforcement action. To the extent ATF does not yet know all the design features it may decide to consider in imposing NFA control, it must provide notice and follow the Administrative Procedures Act process when it knows the additional features it wants to control. It may not (as it appears to do in the proposed rule) attempt to sidestep the APA process to proliferate more private rules that leave persons to guess at what features beyond published agency rules can subject them to NFA penalties.
Now, the Biden administration might not be swayed by these arguments, but there’s a really good chance that the courts will be. We just saw the Supreme Court decide to grant an injunction against the CDC’s eviction moratorium because it likely violates the Administrative Procedures Act, and the courts have said the same when it comes to Biden’s attempt to ditch the “remain in Mexico” policy on illegal immigrants put in place under the Trump administration. If the Supreme Court is serious about curtailing abuses of executive branch overreach, as appears to be the case, then it’s likely that the Court won’t look kindly on Biden’s attempt at a backdoor gun ban imposed via regulation rather than a vote in Congress.
Still, before the proposed rule can be challenged in court it has to be enacted by the administration itself, and it’s vitally important for gun owners to voice their opposition while they have the chance. You can submit your own comment online right here, but remember to do so by 11:59 pm on September 8th.