ATF warns dealers of "willful violations" of ghost gun rule

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The ATF seems to think it has the unilateral ability to decide what the gun laws in this nation actually are. Not interpret the law, mind you, but make it up entirely.


Look at the rules on things like pistol braces and bump stocks for example.

Yet another such example is so-called ghost guns. Despite recently getting smacked down over their blatant overreach recently, they’re issuing a warning to gun dealers over “willful violations” of existing rules.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued an advisory to Federal Firearm License (FFL) holders, manufacturers and distributors Tuesday, reminding them that the agency will prioritize investigations into “willful” violations of the ghost gun final rule.

The ATF final rule for ghost gun frames and receivers, implemented in April 2022, “clarified” the definition of unregistered or “ghost” parts, and the agency plans to use its updated interpretation of “willful” violations to investigate suspected or reported infractions. After President Joe Biden took office, the ATF implemented a “zero tolerance” policy that allows the agency to close gun stores for any violation deemed “willful,” and FFL revocations hit a 16-year high.

“People who engage in the business of dealing firearms are subject to the Gun Control Act. That means they need to run background checks and sell guns with serial numbers. That is what the ghost gun rule is about,” ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said in the advisory. “Today’s advisory is simple. If you’re dealing firearms — including items that can be readily converted to a working firearm — ATF is going to make sure that you are following the same laws as everyone else.”


That sounds all scary, except that the ATF doesn’t have the authority to declare parts as guns, even things that might easily become parts.

After all, if they can do that, where is the line? Where’s the line between “readily converted to a working firearm” and “a bit of metal or plastic?” I’ve seen someone turn a shovel into an AK receiver, after all, so all kinds of things can be converted, so where’s the line that determines what’s readily converted and what isn’t?

Further, again, they don’t have the authority to regulate gun parts or bits of metal or plastic that can be turned into firearms. I don’t care what President Biden said, they just don’t have the authority.

So while they can warn over willful violations of those rules, the only ones who are willfully violating anything seem to be the ATF as they willfully violate the limits of their authority.

Of course, with gun dealers, the question then becomes when is it actually a willful violation of a vague rule that doesn’t resemble the actual law and when is it a good faith misunderstanding about what the ATF is actually trying to do?


Then again, does the ATF actually give a flying fig? Not really. They’re not on our side. They’re not our friends and they’re not trying to help us stay in compliance with the law. What they want to do is restrict our right to keep and bear arms by executive fiat.

I suspect that when the dust settles over this “ghost gun” rule nonsense, a lot of those “willful violators” will get their FFLs back.

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