While many organizations are celebrating the putative victory in relation to the ATF’s announcement of earlier today that it would “not at this time seek to issue a final framework”, Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., would caution our viewers and the Firearms Industry that ATF can likely, at any time, seek to move forward with a final framework without any further notice or comment.
Today, ATF posted on its website:
Notice to those Commenting on the Armor Piercing Ammunition Exemption Framework
Thank you for your interest in ATF’s proposed framework for determining whether certain projectiles are “primarily intended for sporting purposes” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C). The informal comment period will close on Monday, March 16, 2015. ATF has already received more than 80,000 comments, which will be made publicly available as soon as practicable.
Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study. Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.
As ATF’s original Notice of Proposed Framework likely constituted a procedural rule, it was not likely subject to the notice-and-comment procedures under the Administrative Procedural Act, except for the ammunition specifically addressed. This may be why ATF erred on the side of caution in permitting comments but did not notice such comment period in the Federal Register. Regardless, ATF opened the door by permitting comments through March 16, 2015, and it is imperative that all individuals and entities that desire to comment on its proposed framework submit comments in opposition before the close of the comment period on Monday, March 16th. Contrary to ATF’s statement, as has been consistently reflected under the current Administration, an open and transparent process is anything but what has been provided, as will be further explained in FICG’s Comment in opposition. Further, although ATF states that it will further study the issues raised, assuming any framework constitutes a procedural rule, with the exception of the ammunition specifically addressed, ATF could move forward without any further notice or comment period.
It is for these reason that FICG believes it is imperative that all interested parties continue to submit their comments in opposition to the proposed framework through Monday, March 16th. In the next coming days, FICG will submit and post its extensive Comment regarding the proposed framework to ensure that all relevant and pertinent issues are raised and preserved, in protection of the Firearms Industry and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.