Category Archives: ATF

SCOTUS Denies Certiorari in Binderup/Suarez

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the U.S. Government’s request for appeal in the combined cases of Attorney General Sessions v. Binerup and Suarez, leaving in place the District Court and Third Circuit decisions holding that an individual can successfully bring a Second Amendment as-applied challenge to a non-violent misdemeanor firearms disability.

I previously reviewed the Third Circuit’s decision in this blog article.

If you are prohibited as a result of a misdemeanor conviction, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., to help you restore your Second Amendment Rights.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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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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Press Release: Chief Counsel Joshua Prince Awarded 2017 NRA Defender of Freedom Award

It is with distinct honor and privilege that we announce that Chief Counsel Joshua Prince has been awarded the 2017 National Rifle Association (NRA) Defender of Freedom Award. Recognizing his “outstanding leadership and distinguished achievement in defense of liberty and the preservation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for all law-abiding citizen of the United States of America,” Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Lt. Colonel Oliver North bestowed this great honor on Joshua.

This is the second consecutive year that Joshua has been awarded this honor.

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Please join us in congratulating Joshua in this monumental achievement.

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Brace for Impact…ATF Clarifies Its Illogical Position on Users Shouldering Brace Equipped Pistols.

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Readers may remember the blog article I wrote when ATF dropped a bombshell at SHOT Show 2015 where it released an open letter which stated that the brace was neither designed nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock and that the use of the brace as a shoulder stock constitutes a redesign of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. The letter concluded that “[a]ny individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal Law, and are hereby revoked,” which sent part of the firearms community into a panic, with the remaining portion laughing at such a ridiculous interpretation of the term “redesign”. (I was in the group laughing).

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However, today is the day where you can all rejoice as ATF, at the behest of SB Tactical, has reexamined its logic (or lack there of) utilized in the open letter. The new determination letter written by Marvin Richardson puts the unfounded fears of the past two years to rest.

The letter begins by describing the definition of a firearm under the National Firearms Act or NFA, the definition of a rifle or shotgun and that ATF has long held that a pistol with a barrel length of less than 16 inches and an attached shoulder stock is an NFA firearm pursuant to the plain language of the statute. ATF further states that “because the stabilizing brace was not designed as a shoulder stock, ‘use’ of the device as a shoulder stock would constitute a ‘redesign’ of the firearm to which it was attached, resulting in the classification of the firearm as a short-barrel rifle.

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While I don’t have SB Tactical’s letter to ATF, it appears that they made some arguments that ATF’s definition of “use” was indefensible based on some arguments that appear eerily similar to ones I had advanced on this blog, such as misusing a common household item like a screwdriver as a pry bar. ATF responds that the result of accepting such an argument is that a device which was designed, marketed and intended for use only to shoot from the arm, could be attached to a firearm and shouldered without falling into the purview of the NFA. An argument that ATF was quick to expressly reject.

However, ATF continues on “[a]n accessory that can be attached to a firearm in any one of several configurations must be evaluated to determine whether attaching it in each of those configurations constitutes ‘making’ an NFA firearm…” ATF has previously concluded that attaching a handgun to a forearm brace does not “make” a short-barreled rifle because in the configuration that was approved by the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (“FATD”) it “is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder.”

Here is the part I really like (because ATF seems to adopt something I’ve been saying all along).

If, however, the shooter/possessor takes affirmative steps to configure the device for use as a shoulder-stock — for example, configuring the brace so as to permanently affix it to the end of a buffer tube…removing the arm-strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace — and then in fact shoots the firearm from the shoulder…that person has…”redesigned” the firearm for purposes of the NFA.

(emphasis added). It would now seem that ATF has changed the definition of “redesign” it is utilizing to the actual layman’s term which means that you actually did something to change the design, rather than just simply misuse.

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The letter continues to explain

[t]o the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational “use” of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute a “redesign”, such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which is has been historically enforced.

In short, it seems that ATF has re-examined the perverted logic it used in the January 2015 Open Letter to come to a more rationale determination about the use of a product.

However, there is a note of caution with this happy tale. It is still possible to construct a short barreled rifle from a brace equipped pistol. The letter explains “…an item that functions as a stock if attached to a handgun in a manner that serves the objective purpose of allowing a firearm to be fired from the shoulder may result in ‘making’ a short-barreled rifle, even if the attachment is not permanent.”

As you may remember, I’ve contended that if you purchased a brace with the intent to build a gun that would be fired from the shoulder, if the barrel length is less than 16 inches or the overall length is less than 26 inches, you’ve just created a short barreled rifle. Why is that?

The NFA defines the term firearm to mean among other things “…(3) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (4) a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;…”

The term rifle is defined as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed cartridge.”

Key point being that it is intended to be fired from the shoulder. As such, you would have a firearm (Short Barrel Rifle) under the NFA which would be subject to its controls.

 

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Our Veterans Need Our Help To Ensure Their Second Amendment Rights! It Is Time For Us To Repay Our Debt To Them!

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 240-175, with numerous Democrats voting in support, on H.R. 1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from stripping a veteran’s right to Keep and Bear Arms in the absence of an order or finding by a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority that such veteran is a danger to himself or herself or others.

Specifically, H.R. 1181 provides:

Notwithstanding any determination made by the Secretary under section 5501A of this title, in any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.

It now moves to the Senate for approval, where we need YOUR support. Please contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to SUPPORT H.R. 1181.

As many of you are aware, I recently detailed a client’s putative loss of his Second Amendment rights through the VA, because the VA, sua sponte and in the absence of any form of due process, elected to place him into “supervised direct payment status.”

It is imperative that we protect our veterans and enact H.R. 1181! Please take a few minutes out of your day to contact your Senators and let them know that it is time that we treat our veterans with the respect and dignity they deserve and ensure the protection of their constitutional rights – the rights that they have steadfastly defended of ours. Our veterans are not second-class citizens and our Senators need to know that we’ll defend their rights, just as they’ve been willing to sacrifice everything to preserve our rights.

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U.S. Government to Withdraw Appeal in Second Amendment As-Applied Challenge Relating to a Mental Health Commitment

As our viewers are aware, I was previously successful in establishing a right to relief in a Second Amendment as-applied challenge involving a mental health commitment – Monumental Decision from the Middle District of Pennsylvania Regarding Mental Health Commitments and the Second Amendment. Thereafter, the U.S. Government filed an appeal to the Third Circuit Court, where the case is currently pending briefing.

Today, the U.S. Government filed a notice with the Third Circuit that the Acting Solicitor General has elected not to sustain the appeal and the Government will be seeking to withdraw the matter in 30 days, as the Government must provide the U.S. Congress with 30 days notice, for the U.S. Congress to intervene if it sees fit. A copy of the letter sent to Speaker Paul Ryan can be downloaded here.

Accordingly, it appears that in 30 days, the appeal will be withdrawn and the only remaining issue will be the attorney fees and costs to be assessed against the Government.

If you have been denied your inalienable right to Keep and Bear Arms as the result of a mental health commitment or non-violent misdemeanor offense, contact us today to discuss your options. Together, we can vindicate YOUR rights!

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Can You Lend a Firearm to Another Person under Federal Law?

From time to time, individuals inquire as to whether they can lend a firearm to a friend. While state firearms laws vary on this subject (for instance, in Pennsylvania an individual can lend shotguns and rifles but not handguns, unless the person receiving the handgun has a license to carry firearm), Federal law specifically allows one to lend a firearm to another individual, provided the individual is not prohibited.

Pursuant to 18 USC 922(a)(5), it is unlawful for “for any person…to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person…who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in…the State in which the transferor resides; except that this paragraph shall not apply to…(B) the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes;”

Does Federal Law allow you to lend a firearm to someone?

Does Federal Law allow you to lend a firearm to someone?

However, pursuant to 18 USC 922(d),

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person—(1) is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year; (2) is a fugitive from justice; (3) is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance…; (4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution; (5) who, being an alien— (A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or (B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa…(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions; (7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship; (8) is subject to a court order that restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child…(9) has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

So, what does all of this mean? Under Federal law, an individual may loan or rent a firearm to a resident of any State for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes, if he/she does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law.

So when do you have reasonable cause to believe a person is prohibited? That is always going to depend on the circumstances. For instance, if someone tells you that he/she has been previously denied the purchase of a firearm, you would have reasonable cause to believe the individual is prohibited. If, on the other hand, the person has never made any such statements (and I highly recommend that prior to lending any firearm, you have the individual sign a statement that he/she is not prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm or ammunition) and you haven’t heard “rumors” of him/her having a criminal past or involuntary civil mental health commitments, then you can likely lend your firearm to that individual.

The grey arises when he/she states that he/she is not prohibited but you have heard “rumors” of his/her criminal past or psychological issues. In this scenario, I always advise a client against lending the firearm, as it is not clear whether you have reasonable cause to believe the individual is prohibited. Clearly, it is not worth the next several years of your life fighting the Government over and the loss of your home to pay the legal bills.

Even if you have no reason to believe the individual is prohibited, you still must determine whether your state permits the lending or renting of firearms. To make this determination, you should consult an attorney that is licensed in your state and familiar with your state’s firearms laws. Once you are satisfied that the individual is not prohibited and your state’s laws allow for the lending of the type of firearm that you intend to lend, you can actually lend your firearm to your friend.

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