In case you’ve not been following recent occurrences surrounding Diversified Machine, here is what we know. In late 2020 and early 2021, ATF raided Diversified Machine, a company selling solvent traps and other items commonly used to manufacture Form 1 silencers, and seized their website. The week after Christmas 2021, ATF mailed this single-page Warning Notice that is equal parts threatening and vague, to thousands of people across the country. All of these people appear to have been identified through Diversified Machine’s customer records, going back to at least 2015.
The letter, poorly worded as it is, seems to be alleging that some, if not all, of the products that Diversified Machine was selling, were silencers under federal law, prior to the time they left Diversified Machine. As the letter states, under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(24):
The terms “firearm silencer” and “firearm muffler” mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication. (emphasis added)
If this is ATF’s position, then the logical endpoint would be that those products, must have been transferred pursuant to an approved Form 4, as they were already NFA items. The immediate problem is that ATF addressed the letters to “Diversified Machine Customer”, did not identify which products it believes are silencers, and then directed recipients to contact their local field office. The combination of these three factors left the notice’s recipients unable to determine which parts are at issue and whether their approved Form 1’s are considered acceptable. After speaking with three of Pennsylvania’s field offices, I learned that they were just as in the dark as the rest of us. At some point after the letter was sent, the field offices were notified by email, that the Flint Michigan Field Office, which sent the letter, is considering registered items to be acceptable, and unregistered items to be unacceptable and needing to be surrendered. Whether that meant silencers manufactured pursuant to an approved Form 1 were considered lawful, or whether they were going to attempt to reclaim anything not transferred pursuant to a Form 4 was still unclear.
Many people turned to the web to try to get a sense of whether they were alone and what they should do. Many others called their attorneys to determine how they should respond, if at all. Many more, like myself, kept working backwards through ATF to the source of the letter. Reminder: YOU SHOULD NEVER SPEAK TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, ESPECIALLY THE ATF, AND ESPECIALLY AFTER RECEIVING A WARNING NOTICE, WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY.
After speaking with the individual in the Flint Michigan Field Office leading this case last Friday (who I have intentionally not named), here is what I learned.
First, ATF is contending that many of the products Diversified Machine was manufacturing were silencer parts, meeting the federal definition of a silencer themselves. While I was not provided with a specific or comprehensive list, I got the impression that their position applies to most of Diversified Machine’s catalog, hence the one-size-fits-all warning notice.
Second, they were not contemplating knocking on doors or seizing these items from persons who have registered them on Forms 1 or 4. I was told that “end users” with registered items are not the target of this investigation. They are purportedly considering both Forms to be acceptable methods of registering these items. Even still, they would like to know the identities of those persons, purportedly for the purpose of removing them from the list of persons pulled from Diversified Machine’s customer records. REMINDER: YOU SHOULD NOT BE SPEAKING TO ATF WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY.
Third, for anybody who has destroyed the items they received, not received items they ordered, or otherwise no longer has items from Diversified Machine – ATF will purportedly be taking those people at their word as they are also not the targets of this investigation. Again, ATF would still like to know the identities of those persons for the purpose of removing them from the list of persons pulled from Diversified Machine’s customer records. REMINDER: YOU SHOULD NOT BE SPEAKING TO ATF WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY.
Finally, I was informed that ATF is currently working on cross-referencing the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record with Diversified Machine’s customer records. Once completed, those individuals who appear in Diversified Machine’s customer records and have approved Forms 1 or 4, will be sent a subsequent letter informing them that they are considered by ATF to have appropriately registered their items. There was no available estimate for when this would be completed or the second letter sent.
This information was all provided to me verbally and may be subject to change in the coming days/weeks/months as the situation evolves. It is imperative that you take appropriate steps to protect yourself. Do not speak to ATF or any other law enforcement without an attorney, you are much more likely to talk yourself into trouble, than out of it. Do not consent to any searches. If you have any questions or concerns, address them with an attorney familiar with firearms law and the ATF. If you want to take any preemptive action, do it through an attorney familiar with firearms law and the ATF.
If you have received one of the ATF’s Warning Notices in this or any other matter, and would like to speak with an attorney about your legal rights and obligations, contact us today!