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Comments on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Now Open

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Comments on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Now Open

On May 21, ATF published a new proposed rule in the Federal Register entitled Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms. That publication triggered the opening of the proposed rule to public comments. The comment period will remain open until August 19, 2021.

While the Justice Department has focused on the impact that this new rule would have on privately made firearms, and the proposed rule would destroy that unique aspect of American freedom, the proposal goes well beyond privately made firearms.

The proposed rule would create new definitions for the terms “firearm frame or receiver,” “frame or receiver,” “firearm,” “gunsmith,” “complete weapon,” “complete muffler or silencer device,” “privately made firearm,” and “readily.” The new definitions make it possible for firearms to have more than one “frame or receiver.” A conclusion that is both at odds with the controlling federal statute and could disrupt the entire industry. 

In addition to these changes, ATF is seeking to create an entirely new process for licensed firearm dealers to apply serial numbers to unserialized firearms that come into their possession and to require the indefinite storage of firearm records by licensees. That requirement likewise has no basis in federal statutes.

In effect, the rule would mean that many manufacturers would need to get pre-approval from ATF for new firearm designs.

Due to the discretionary scheme created by the rule, the ATF Director would be given an incredible amount of power over the firearm industry. This comes at a time when President Biden has nominated anti-gun lobbyist and gun ban proponent David Chipman to head the ATF. This draft rule is just one more reason why it’s extremely important for all gun owners to contact their Senators and ask that they vote against Chipman’s confirmation.

NRA-ILA will provide more detailed explanations of the many problems with this proposed in the coming weeks as well as filing comments on this terrible rule on behalf of all NRA members.  If you wish to comment in the meantime, please keep the following in mind.

These are ATF’s instructions for submitting comments:

You may submit comments, identified by docket number ATF 2021R-05, by any of the following methods—

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Andrew Lange, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N-518, Washington, DC 20226; ATTN: ATF 2021R-05.
  • Fax: (202) 648-9741.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number (ATF 2021R-05) for this notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM” or “proposed rule”). All properly completed comments received will be posted without change to the Federal eRulemaking portal, www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

ATF also provided the following contact information for any questions regarding the proposed rule:

Andrew Lange, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N-518, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070 (this is not a toll-free number).

In addition to these technical requirements, it’s important to keep the following in mind when submitting comments.

  • Comments must be professional and respectful. While it is extremely frustrating, to say the least, that the Biden Administration is attempting to blame law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals, making comments that include profanity will make it easy for ATF to summarily reject those comments.
  • Comments should focus on the arbitrary nature of the proposed rule. The fact that it is essentially impossible to determine when a piece of metal or plastic becomes a firearm under the proposed rule and leaves such an important determination to administrative fiat makes the proposed rule incompatible with American principles of due process of law.
  • Comments should be individualized and focus on how the proposed rule would impact the commenter. ATF will treat all identical comments as a single comment, so it is important to avoid using a form comment.

Comments can be submitted directly through regulation.gov. Please check back to www.nraila.org soon for more information on this burdensome, arbitrary, and unconstitutional proposed rule.  

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.