(RightWing.org) – A proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is setting off alarms among Second Amendment activists and gun owners. The agency that mandates gun laws is preparing guidance on regulating certain firearms if President Donald Trump isn’t inaugurated on January 20, 2021. If the proposal is approved, millions of law-abiding Americans could be in legal trouble.
First, we need to wind the clock back.
In 1934, the National Firearms Act (NFA) was signed into law. The intent of the original legislation was to “regulate certain weapons likely to be used for criminal purposes.” It imposed taxes on the manufacturing and selling of certain firearms and required their registration with the Treasury Secretary. Under the law, firearms included shotguns and rifles with barrels less than 18 inches in length, machine guns, mufflers, and silencers. The legislation was amended slightly in 1968 and 1986.
On August 3, 2020, the ATF forwarded a letter to the manufacturer of the AR-15, ordering them to cease and desist from manufacturing the gun until they complied with the NFA, as well as other invasive criteria. The ATF threatened the gun manufacturer with legal action if it didn’t comply. The letter was a stunning reversal that contradicts cases going back as far as 2012.
AR-15s in the Sights of Regulators
For a decade or more, AR-15s were on the list of firearms that regulators and Democratic politicians sought to ban. The National Firearm Industry Trade Association (NSSF) describes the highly-popular AR-15 as a semiautomatic sport rifle. Contrary to popular belief, the “AR” designation does not mean “assault rifle.” It’s the abbreviation of the manufacturer, ArmaLite.
While the gun appears to look like a machine gun, it’s not. The internal workings of an AR-15 are very different, as mandated by federal law. A machine gun, also known as an assault rifle, is fully automatic and is restricted from civilian ownership under the NFA.
ATF Proposal Seeks Eradication of the Sports Rifle
In August, the ATF submitted a proposal, which never mentions the name AR-15. Instead, it describes it. The rifle is designed with a shoulder brace and straps that go through the forearm. The ATF is now recommending the guns be “registered, turned in, dismantled, or destroyed.”
Additional firearms also could fall under the preview of the recommendation based on the description as outlined. However, the proposal is highly subjective, which federal agencies love because it gives them extreme flexibility to enforce laws through interpretive regulations.
In August, the Trump administration said it was reviewing the ATF’s proposal. The ATF backed down and said it would wait until after the election to move forward. Apparently, bureaucrats believe they would gain a listening ear in a potential Biden administration. Gun rights groups during Trump’s first term advocated for the administration to reign in the ATF.
During the Democratic primaries and general election, Joe Biden said he was committed to what he called common-sense gun solutions.
It appears that, if the ATF moves forward with this regulation, gun owners and activist groups will be lining up in court to fight the ATF in a potentially new administration.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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