Author Archives: Adam Kraut, Esq.

About Adam Kraut, Esq.

Adam Kraut was born and raised in Chester County, PA. Active in scouting since kindergarten, Adam achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 2004. After graduating high school, Adam attended SUNY Binghamton where he graduated in 2009 with a major in Political Science concentrating in politics and law. After taking a year away from academics, Adam attended Widener Law School at night while maintaining a day job and graduated in 2014. Adam is an avid firearms enthusiast, whose love for firearms began in Boy Scouts at Camp Horseshoe. Adam’s experience in the firearms industry as the general manager of a Federal Firearms Licensee, who is a Class 3 dealer, gives him a working knowledge of the challenges the industry, licensees and individuals face on a daily basis. Having worked with industry leaders, individual licensees and individuals both from behind the counter and in a legal context, Adam is in a unique position to give advice with insight others may not have. In addition to being active in the courtroom, Adam is politically active to ensure that the Second Amendment rights of future generations continue to be protected. He is the host of The Gun Collective‘s show, The Legal Brief, where he dispels the various legal myths and misinformation in the gun world. Adam is also a frequent guest on The Firearms Radio Network‘s This Week in Guns podcast. In his free time, Adam volunteers with his old Boy Scout troop, cranks out ammunition behind the reloading press, can be found at the range training, enjoys hiking through the woods and cares for his small pack of dogs. Adam lives in Chester County, PA with his girlfriend and three rescue dogs.

Pennsylvania State Police Reiterate ATF Position on Medicinal Marijuana

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It should come to no surprise that the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) have issued a position statement in relation to Pennsylvania’s new card carrying medicinal marijuana users. Once again, individuals who seek to use marijuana for medicinal purposes are forced to choose between the comfort they find in medicine or their constitutional rights.

Marijuana is still a Schedule I narcotic under federal law, which means that regardless of what state law says, at the federal level, it is still illegal to possess. Medicinal marijuana has grown in popularity since California legalized it in 1996 with a majority of states legalizing it in some form. However, the federal government has not taken any action to legalize it for medicinal purposes and DEA recently declined to reclassify it.

Medical marijuana card holders in Pennsylvania should take note of the following. It has been ATF’s position since 2011, that if an individual is merely in possession of a medical marijuana card, they are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. This is based on the theory that the transferor would have “reasonable cause to believe” that the person is an “unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance.” In other words, it could be inferred that you fit that category by merely possessing a license, regardless of whether you obtained it for actual use or a political statement.

The statement also tells individuals that “[i]t is unlawful for you to attempt to purchase a firearm under Federal law and you will be denied during your Pennsylvania State Police background check, due to prohibitions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3),” which would seem to suggest that the information of medical marijuana users will be contained in the PSP’s central repository of information and/or sent to NICS.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have not researched the medical marijuana law to see if that is the case or whether there are HIPAA concerns, etc., this is just a theory.

The PSP also states that an individual is unable to lawfully obtain a License to Carry Firearms (“LTCF”) and that “[t]he sheriff should not process your application if you truthfully indicate to the sheriff that you are the holder of a Medical Marijuana Card.” Moreover, the PSP continue to say “you will be denied during the Pennsylvania State Police background check, which occurs as part of the LTC application or renewal process,” again suggesting information pertaining to medical marijuana users are retained by the PSP and/or transmitted to NICS.

Perhaps most interesting about the PSP’s statement is this

It is unlawful for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card, and you should consult an attorney about the best way to dispose of your firearms.  Again, this is due to prohibitions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).

Essentially, PSP is contending that you are an unlawful user of a controlled substance if you obtain a medical marijuana card. However, possession of a card does not automatically equate to the use of the substance. So for individuals who seek to obtain a medical marijuana card for a political statement, be aware of the PSP’s position on the matter. That is one that will eventually require litigation.

 

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ATF to Publish Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Re: Application of the Definition of Machinegun to “Bump Fire” Stocks and Other Similar Devices

EDIT 3: Publication date is now scheduled for 12/26/2017. Deadline for submissions would be Thursday, January 25, 2018.

EDIT 2: Document has been reposted. Link is working again.

EDIT: It appears the document has been removed “The Office of the Federal Register withdrew this document after it went on public inspection due to technical errors.” I’ll be keeping my eye for a repost.

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Tomorrow, ATF will publish an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the application of the definition of machinegun to “Bump Fire” stocks and other similar devices. As many have feared, it appears that the regulatory agency is soliciting information to help draft a rule which may potentially lump bump fire stocks, binary triggers, etc., within the definition of machinegun.

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Comments are due thirty (30) days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Assuming that nothing goes awry with the publication tomorrow, that would mean any comment you wish to submit in opposition to this advance notice would need to be submitted by 11:59 PM on Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:59 PM on Thursday, January 25, 2018. While one might expect an extra day to be provided to place the deadline on a Monday, agency rules govern. ATF confirmed via telephone that the deadline was Sunday.

ATF is specifically seeking feedback from consumers regarding the following:

  1. In your experience, where have you seen these devices for sale and which of these has been the most common outlet from which consumers have purchased these devices (e.g., brick and mortar retail stores; online vendors; gun shows or similar events; or private sales between individuals)?
  2. Based on your experience or observations, what is (or has been) the price range for these devices?
  3. For what purposes are the bump stock devices used or advertised?

The ATF has a broad range of questions for manufacturers including:

  1. For what use or uses have you marketed bump stock devices?
  2. If ATF classified bump stock devices as “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, and the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended, what would you expect to be the impact on your gross receipts for calendar year 2018?
  3. If ATF classified bump stock devices as “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, and the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended, what other economic impact would you expect (e.g., storage, unsellable inventory)?
  4. If ATF classified bump stock devices as “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, and the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended, do you believe that there would be a viable (profitable) law-enforcement and/or military market for these devices? If so, please describe that market and your reasons for believing such a viable market exists.

The ATF asks retailers similar questions.

All comments must:

  1. reference docket number 2017R-22;
  2. be legible (I expect most submission will be done electronically); and
  3. include the commenter’s complete first and last name and full mailing address.

ATF will not consider, or respond to, comments that do not meet these requirements or comments containing profanity. In addition, if ATF cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, ATF may not be able to consider your comment.

If you’re a consumer, I suggest you submit a comment to the advance notice of proposed rulemaking. For helpful hints on how to draft a comment, take a look at the information in the article I wrote for Recoil Web, although some of that information would be more applicable for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

If you represent a manufacturer or a retailer and want to inquire about obtaining services for the drafting of a comment, please contact the office as soon as possible to ensure sufficient time to draft a comment.

 

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The Protection in Lawful Commerce of Arms Act and the Fate of Slide Fire in the Aftermath of Las Vegas

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In October of 2005, the Protection in Lawful Commerce of Arms Act (PLCAA) took effect. Its purpose was simple – to shield manufacturers and sellers of qualified products from civil suits brought by victims and/or their families for the misuse of their product. Congress specifically stated in its findings that

Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.

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Nine (9) days after the tragedy in Las Vegas, the first lawsuit has been filed against Slide Fire by three (3) individuals. Which begs the question, does the PLCAA shield Slide Fire and other manufacturers of accessories from such a lawsuit? This article will have 3 different sections: 1) what the PLCAA is and protects, 2) whether I believe Slide Fire is protected under the PLCAA, and 3) why it is important for manufacturers of firearm accessories to obtain an FFL.

What is the PLCAA?

The PLCAA precludes a qualified civil liability action from being brought in Federal or State court. While the wording of § 7902 is rather simple, it is the definitions are where the real analysis takes place.

The law defines a qualified civil liability action as

a civil action or proceeding…brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product…for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties, or other relief, resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party…

In order to better understand what the law protects, we’ll need to examine the definitions of a few other terms.

The term “manufacturer” means

with respect to a qualified product, a person who is engaged in the business of manufacturing the product in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such a manufacturer under [The Gun Control Act]

The term “seller” means

with respect to a qualified product—

(A) an importer (as defined in section 921(a)(9) of [The Gun Control Act]) who is engaged in the business as such an importer in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such an importer under [The Gun Control Act];

(B) a dealer (as defined in section 921(a)(11) of [The Gun Control Act]) who is engaged in the business as such a dealer in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such a dealer under [The Gun Control Act]; or

(C) a person engaged in the business of selling ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17)(A) of [The Gun Control Act]) in interstate or foreign commerce at the wholesale or retail level.

Qualified product is another term that Congress defined. A qualified product

means a firearm (as defined in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 921(a)(3) of [The Gun Control Act]), including any antique firearm (as defined in section 921(a)(16) of [The Gun Control Act]), or ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17)(A) of [The Gun Control Act]), or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. (Emphasis added).

The law does provide six (6) specific exemptions to the general rule. They include

(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of [The Gun Control Act], or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;

(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought, including—

     (I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law with respect to the qualified product, or aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or

     (II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of [The Gun Control Act];

(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;

(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or

(vi) an action or proceeding commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the provisions of [The Gun Control Act]or [The National Firearms Act].
Simply put, in order to be protected under the PLCAA, the person manufacturing or selling the product has to 1) fall within the definition of “manufacturer”, “seller” or “trade association” (which I did not cover in this article), 2) manufacture or sell a qualified product, and 3) be sued by a person for a person’s criminal or unlawful misuse. If none of the six enumerated exemptions apply, the lawsuit must be dismissed.

Does the PLCAA Protect Slide Fire?

While there is plenty of caselaw regarding the PLCAA, I have not seen any where accessories have been implicated. Obviously, the crux of the argument with regards to the PLCAA applying to Slide Fire would be that their product is a component part.

As we saw above, in order for the PLCAA to apply, Slide Fire must either meet the definition of Manufacturer or Seller. Fortunately for Slide Fire, they are a Type 07 FFL, which puts them into the definition of a Manufacturer under the PLCAA.

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The Slide Fire stocks are qualified products (being that they are “a component part of a firearm”). So it would naturally follow that the PLCAA would apply.

 

Why is it Important Manufacturers of Firearm Accessories Obtain an FFL?

If you haven’t guessed by now, we need to return to the definitions. The protection of the PLCAA is extended to manufacturers, importers, and dealers who are licensed under the Gun Control Act (also persons engaged in the business of selling ammunition at the wholesale or retail level). By obtaining an FFL, a company can place itself under the umbrella of the PLCAA, where they may otherwise not have the protections of the Act.

Had Slide Fire not been a licensed manufacturer (or dealer or importer) it is likely that they would be an open target to be sued without the PLCAA coming into play.

 

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ATF releases 2017 Report on Firearm Commerce in the United States (Numbers, Bar Graphs, and Pie Charts!)

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ATF has released its annual Firearms Commerce in the United States Statistical Update for 2017. As my one friend put it, “[t]his is like fantasy football stats for silencer dorks.” It’s actually like that for a lot more than the silencer crowd, but I digress.

The Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) is only current through 2015. This is because AFMER data is not published until one year after the close of a calendar reporting year because the information provided by those whole filed a report is protected from immediate disclosure by the Trade Secrets Act. Which is why you see a two year lag (2015 data reporting in the beginning of 2016 and a year delay between its reporting and publication).

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In 2015, there were a total of 9,358,661 firearms manufactured. This was up from 2014’s number of 9,050,626 by about 3.3%. Interestingly the number of exports fell by about 20%, from 420,932 in 2014 down to 343,456.

The total number of imports rose from 3,930,211 in 2015 to 5,137,771 in 2016 (imports are not included not the AFMER report which is why the numbers are more current). Interestingly, it was handguns that account for a little over 1.2 million more firearms imported in 2016. And as you may have guessed Austria leads the charge with handguns imported, accounting for over 1.3 million coming into the country. Probably a safe bet that Glock is responsible for the majority of those.

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For those of you NFA junkies, in 2016, there was $6,018,000 in occupational taxes paid (SOTs). This is up again from the year prior and slightly under double that of 2012. Taxes paid were $62,596,000 for 2016, almost double the year before (thanks ATF 41F). Interestingly, there were 6,547 record checks, which means that ATF searched the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) that many times to determine if a firearm was possessed lawfully or if the transfer was performed lawfully.

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In 2016, there were 49,985 Form 1s and 133,911 Form 4s filed. These numbers were up from the year prior, but not by a significant margin for the Form 4s (Form 1s were up by about 17,000). While the number of forms process by the NFA Branch was up about a million from the year prior, it was the Form 2s that accounted for almost half of that number. For those that are unaware, Form 2s are used by industry to give notice to ATF that they produced or imported a NFA firearm.

As far as NFA firearms registered by state, Texas leads with 588,696. California follows with 344,622. Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania round out the top 5. Interestingly, Connecticut leads the charge with registered machine guns, sitting at 52,965. However, when you consider law enforcement, it starts to make sense.

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There are currently 57,345 licensed collectors of curios or relics, making it the most popular license type. It is followed closely by dealer in firearms, of which there are 56,754 active licenses. ATF reports 137,464 active licenses. Texas holds 10,954 of those licenses, making it the state with the most.

In 2016, 16 license applications were denied. This number is down almost 50% from the year prior. As for compliance inspections, ATF performed 9,790 last year. This equates to 7.1% of all licensees in 2016 being inspected.

As always, the annual report helps give some insight as to ongoings within the firearms industry.

 

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News from the 16th Annual NSSF Import/Export Conference in Washington, D.C.

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Attorney Joshua Prince and I attended the Annual NSSF Import/Export Conference in Washington, D.C. this week. There were a variety of presentations that were given on a variety of topics including: Federal Search Warrants and Regulatory Site Visits, Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, Foreign Military Sales, ATF Panel Discussion, and Round Table Discussions (the best part in my opinion) on Day 1. On Day 2’s agenda is Prohibited and Embargoed Countries, DDTC Presentation on Information Technology, and a presentation from DDTC on Licensing and Agreements.

As most of our readers are more concerned with up-to-date statistics and information from ATF, this blog article will only address those and information learned at the Round Table Discussions.

ATF Panel

Sitting on the ATF Panel giving updates were: Marvin Richardson (Assistant Director, Enforcement Programs and Services), Curtis Gilbert (Deputy Assistant Director Enforcement Program and Services), Andrew Graham (Deputy Assistant Director Industry Operations), Earl Griffith (Chief of the Firearms Ammunition Technology Division), Alphonso Hughes (Division Chief, National Firearms Act Division), Gary Taylor (Firearms and Explosives Services Division), Andrew Lange (Division Chief of the Office of Regulatory Affairs), and Krissy Carlson (Division Chief of the Firearms and Explosives Industry Enforcement Programs and Services).

Industry Operations

Andy Graham stated that there are currently 791 Industry Operations Investigators (IOIs) not including the administrative staff. In 2018 they hope to add 48 more. There are two classes, one in February and one in July.

There are currently ~1,100 firearm importers and ~230 destructive device importers. There are about 162 active inspections occurring with regard to those licensees.

Office of Regulatory Affairs

Andrew Lange announced regulations.atf.gov, a website that had the most up to date regulations pertaining to ATF. The website is actually the first government website that I’ve perused that was functional and useful! The information is pulled directly from the Federal Register, so if ATF implements a final rule, it will automatically update.

The website features the ability to see the history of a particular regulation (so you can see the changes over time) and defined terms are hot linked so they will populate on the right hand side, meaning you can read a provision and see the definition of terms which are defined at the same time (allowing a reader to have better context or understanding). Even cooler is that it links to ruling that were issued. I’m genuinely impressed with the system. If only the eForms system worked as well.

Phase 2 is expected to be rolled out in September of this year.

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Firearms Ammunition Technology Division

Earl Griffith introduced the Firearms Ammunition Technology Division or “FATD”. They hired six more firearms enforcement officers who have now completed a significant amount of training (if I recall it was about a year to a year and a half, I didn’t write down the length of time), bringing the total to twelve. They are responsible for the evaluation of samples sent to FATD.

Currently, FATD is running about 30-90 days on most evaluations. They have currently issued about 800 marking variances which are taking about 30 days to issue. So far this year there have been about 250 product evaluations.

NFA Division

As was published in the most recent ATF FFL Newsletter, the NFA Branch has been transformed into the National Firearms Act Division, which became effective April 3, 2017. The Division will be led by Division Chief Alphonso Hughes, the previous Chief of the Firearms and Explosives Services Division. The new division, consists of two branches – the Industry Processing Branch (IPB), dealing with industry and the Government Support Branch (GSB) dealing with government related matters.

Alphonso stated that the NFA Division was going to undergo a full evaluation of the internal business processes in the first quarter of 2018. It would involve outside eyes looking in.

The former 2-3 month time period for application data entry has now been reduced to ~72 hours. For those with access to eForms…use them. eForms result in faster turnaround on approvals. While they can’t auto approve at this point, they are automating as much as possible. Form 2-3s are hovering around 10 days or under (eForms from my understanding).

41F – Everyone’s favorite topic (sarcasm if you couldn’t tell). There were ~280,000 applications received from the announcement of the final rule until it went into effect. That was about a full years worth of applications. They are on the downward slope of pre 41F paperwork.

ATF is working overtime to process these forms. They are currently working 7 days a week to reduce the wait times and are literally working overtime hours to accomplish that goal (up to 20 hours per person in addition to their standard work week).

Pre 41F, they were receiving ~35,000 forms a week and processing about 8,000 forms a week. Post 41F they were receiving about 5-6,000 form a week and processing 8-9,000 forms a week. They are currently predicting a 6-7 month turn around if you submit a form today.

In January, six additional examiners were hired. They are going to continue to push for resources in FY 2018-19.

Alphonso was also asked about the possibility of the reopening of the MG registry. He replied that it was not within the NFA division’s purview to address the issue (and he isn’t wrong. The original statutory language read “The Secretary of the Treasury, after publication in the Federal Register of his intention to do so, is authorized to establish such periods of amnesty, not to exceed ninety days in the case of any single period, and immunity from liability during any such period, as the Secretary determines will contribute to the purpose of this title.” 82 Stat. 1235, § 207(d). As ATF was transferred to DOJ, the power would now be held by the Attorney General. See 27 CFR 479.101(b)).

Firearms and Explosives Industry Enforcement Programs and Services

Last, but not least, was Krissy, who stressed eForms usage for industry. She was also asked about the possibility of the HPA passing. As you probably guessed, this is in the hands of Congress and not ATF. ATF holds no opinions on proposed legislation.

Round Tables

ATF Firearms and Explosives Industry Division 

I followed up on a question that arose last week at the NICS Retailer Event at FBI. While there, someone had asked about the new 4473 and question 12.d.2, specifically whether or not someone had to complete the question.

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The answer I received was “yes”, the form must be completed. This question has seemed to cause a lot of confusion on the new form.

There was also the question of “sex” on the 4473. Some states have now recognized a new gender. ATF has provided limited guidance, simply saying the individual has to complete the form. However, it is suggested, after discussion with ATF, if a licensee is unsure or uncomfortable with the person’s response, that they can document the transaction, etc. in the notes section of the 4473. A photocopy of the identification (a standard practice in a  lot of shops anyway) is suggested. ATF is still in the preliminary stages of looking into this issue and only provided guidance in relation to the question must be answered.

NFA Division

A common question I receive is whether or not you have to notify the NFA Branch of a change in configuration. I was informed that an individual can write a letter to ATF adding another configuration to a registered receiver. For instance, if the Form 1 or 4 is approved for a 10.5″ 5.56 gun and a person has a 8″ 300 Blackout upper, they can notify the NFA branch of the additional configuration. It was strongly encouraged that an individual do such, even if the change is temporary.

It was reported that the NFA Branch had little to no issues with the electronic fingerprint submissions. They advised that most prints they received were fine.

Lastly, for those curious about the process within the NFA Branch regarding trust applications, I was given this simplified process.

The application is received along with the payment. Payment is cashed and the data entry occurs. After the data is entered (it is kept in the order received) it is submitted to NICS for a check. Obviously the more Responsible Persons the more room for error, delays, etc. If a delay comes back on one person, the entire application is held up. This work is done by the legal assistants. By the time it hits the examiner, it is ready for approval or denial.

As I’m writing this, it I realized I forgot to ask about the disparity between approvals and postmark dates.

Firearms Ammunition Technology Division

Form 1 silencer builders have been in a constant state of argument as to what they can or can’t do. As of where we stand today, it is the opinion of FATD that a Form 1 maker CANNOT repair their silencer. They cannot replace a baffle if it is destroyed, repair a damaged endcap, or shorten the silencer. While not the answer the community wants to hear, that is the current position. Essentially, you’d have to file a new Form 1 and build a new silencer.

For those wondering about the new Autoglove, FATD has not seen a sample of that product.

If you’re thinking about building a clone of a firearm that has been approved as a non NFA firearm (ala Tac 14 or Shockwave, etc.) there is no requirement that you submit a determination request (which is true of any domestically built firearm). However, it was strongly encouraged to ensure your compliance.

 

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After 5 Years of Violating Its Own Regulations, ATF Publishes State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms (32nd Edition)

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ATF has published its long overdue update to the State Laws and Published Ordinances. The publication was announced to retailers who attended the NICS Retailer Day held at FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Center this past Monday.

Prior to the publication of this edition, ATF had violated its own regulations by consistently failing to “annually revise and furnish Federal firearms licensees with a compilation of State laws and published ordinances” since 2011. Had a licensee failed to do something the regulations required them to do for a period of 6 years, they would have almost certainly been found to have “willfully” violated the Gun Control Act.

The newest edition provides licensees and individuals with information that is current through January 2017. If a state has passed a new law since, it will not be reflected in this edition of the publication.

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Rather than publishing a large .pdf file, ATF opted to break each state into its own chapter. At the beginning of each state’s laws and ordinances, there is contact information for the ATF Field Division and State’s Attorney General.

The message from Acting Director Thomas Brandon does cause some concern.

Interpretation of a State or local law or ordinance:  Contact your State police, local law enforcement authority, or your State Attorney General’s office.

Anyone who has ever contacted law enforcement for the interpretation of laws knows that the police officers are not always correct in their interpretation of the law, as they are charged with enforcement rather than interpretation of it. However, the website, immediately under Mr. Brandon’s message, states “If you have any questions regarding State, County or local laws, please contact your state’s Attorney General.”

It’s nice to see ATF following their own regulations after a 6 year lapse in compliance.

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OIG Documents Reveal Issues with the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record

Leave it to the Government to require individuals to register National Firearms Act firearms and screw up the registry leaving a number of individuals with firearms that were possibly registered with no proof or obtaining criminal convictions against those who had firearms that were possibly registered in accordance with the law.

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Of Arms and the Law editor David Hardy has a pending Freedom of Information Act Request against the United States. Yesterday, his attorney Stephen Stambouleih won a partial motion for summary judgment which resulted in the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General having to turn over documents (note the documents themselves are from 2007).

While the revelation of the inaccuracies of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (“NFRTR”) are nothing new, the documents reveal a very different perspective on the issue. OIG had taken a survey of ATF Industry Operations Inspectors (“IOIs”) on the NFRTR. Prior to IOIs conducting a compliance inspection of a FFL who has an SOT, they print off a list of the firearms the NFRTR says the dealer should have and compare it to the physical inventory.

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49.2% of the IOIs said that they requested an inventory report from the NFA branch one to two weeks prior to conducting an inspection. When asked how often there was a discrepancy between the report and the inventory 16.4% of the IOIs responded that it was all of the time, 30.1% said most of the time and 39.5% said some of the time.

When asked how often the discrepancy was due to the NFRTR, 10% of the IOIs responded that it was always the NFRTR, 34.4% said most of the time and 33.1% said some of the time.

While the multiple choice questions certainly draw into question the NFRTR’s validity, the open ended responses are even better.

Q12 – How do errors and discrepancies in NFRTR inventory reports affect your ability to carry out compliance inspections?

“This calls into question the accuracy of the information from the NFRTR, reflects poorly on ATF, and makes it difficult to hold FFLs accountable for correct records when the NFRTR is not held to the same standards. Often, follow-up work is required, but the records are not updated in the NFRTR.”

Interesting how the Government can maintain shoddy records and that is perfectly fine, but if a licensee makes a mistake in their record keeping, it is suddenly a “willful” violation of the Gun Control Act and puts their license at risk. Out of the 297 responses, 75 called into question the accuracy of the NFRTR.

Some other noteworthy quotes from the IOIs include:

“When I conduct an NFA inventory reconciliation, I start knowing that the NFA register will be incomplete or inaccurate.”

“Going into an inspection knowing that almost certainly there will be discrepancies, affects your confidence level initially.”

“It create a problem in that the FFL becomes frustrated that our records are incorrect, thus making ATF look bad from the onset. Yet ATF expects perfection from FFLs.”

“The FFL records appear to be more accurate than the information contained within ATF’s records.”

“In one instance, I received an NFRTR inventory report with more than 60 errors on behalf of the NFA branch.”

“I basically have to depend more on the FFL’s inventory records than on the NFA Branch.”

The NFRTR’s inaccuracies place a number of individuals at risk in varying capacities. For some it may result in the seizure of a firearm, loss of license or at worst, a felony conviction. Hopefully Mr. Hardy’s FOIA request will continue to shed light on the inaccuracies of the NFRTR.

 

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