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ATF Reinterprets the Term “Machinegun,” Again

Monday, April 4, 2022

ATF Reinterprets the Term “Machinegun,” Again

On March 22nd, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) released an open letter on “forced reset triggers” (“FRTs”) indicating that the agency’s position is that these triggers meet the definition of “machinegun” under federal law, and are therefore “firearms” under both the Gun Control Act (“GCA”) and National Firearms Act (“NFA”). Under ATF’s new interpretation, these triggers are effectively prohibited due to the GCA’s prohibition on new manufacture of machineguns for the commercial market.

While the open letter claims to apply to “some” FRTs, it is unclear what current design would not fall under ATF’s new interpretation.

Forced reset triggers operate by using the mechanical action of a semi-automatic firearm to forcibly reset the trigger, so it can be more quickly pulled by the user. This can result in a higher than normally attainable rate of fire similar to bump firing.

ATF sent Rare Breed, a manufacturer of FRTs, a cease-and-desist letter in July 2021, claiming that the trigger met the GCA's definition of "machinegun."

Rare Breed filed suit in Florida. Rare Breed sought a TRO and a preliminary injunction to stop the agency from enforcing its application of the statute, but both were denied. The case was then dismissed without prejudice (meaning it could be refiled).

Because the case deals with ATF's interpretation of the term "machinegun," the result will likely rest on whether or not the Supreme Court reevaluates the deferential standard that federal courts apply when agencies interpret statutes they are charged with enforcing.

This deferential standard, often referred to as Chevron Deference because of a case of the same name, is wholly incompatible when applied to criminal statutes because it allows the government to turn once lawful conduct into a felony overnight.

The Supreme Court currently has several cases before it that would allow it to review Chevron. NRA filed an amicus brief in one of these cases that involved ATF’s reinterpretation of the definition of machinegun as applied to bump fire stocks. That brief argues that for 200 years, the Supreme Court has consistently held that “the power to create crimes lies exclusively with Congress.” Thus, when criminal liability is on the line, “ATF’s position is ‘not relevant at all.”’

Until the Supreme Court reevaluates this deferential standard, gun owners, and all law-abiding Americans, will be stuck attempting to follow the whims of unelected federal bureaucrats.

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NRA-ILA Backed Lawsuit Filed Challenging Oregon Measure 114

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NRA-ILA Backed Lawsuit Filed Challenging Oregon Measure 114

Today an NRA-backed lawsuit was filed challenging Ballot Measure 114, which voters passed by a slim margin last month. Measure 114 creates a falsely labeled “permit to purchase” a firearm requirement and bans standard capacity magazines, which it ...

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, anti-gun New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced last week that she would expand her assault on the Second Amendment by targeting ammunition sellers. AG James claimed, ...

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

News  

Monday, March 14, 2022

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

As we reported last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) denied approximately 850 Form 1 applications for prospective makers of suppressors on February 28. These denials were apparently made due to ...

Colorado: Broomfield City Moves to Adopt Gun Control Package to Diminish Second Amendment Rights!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Colorado: Broomfield City Moves to Adopt Gun Control Package to Diminish Second Amendment Rights!

Earlier this week, Broomfield City Council advanced a gun control package to impose on law-abiding citizens.  The second reading will be held in January.  In truth, none of the slew of regulations will stop criminals ...

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Maryland’s most anti-gun county has continued its tantrum, lashing out against lawful carry in the only way it thinks it can. Yesterday, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 21-22E, to remove the exemption ...

Public Lands Lawsuit Settled—All Lands Remain Open to Hunting

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Public Lands Lawsuit Settled—All Lands Remain Open to Hunting

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 2.3 million acres of land. That decision was challenged in federal court, and the NRA, Safari Club International, Sportsmen’s ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Monday, November 28, 2022

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29th, the Honolulu City Council will hear an ordinance to prohibit citizens from exercising their right-to-carry in many places. This is an attempt to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s NYSRPA v. Bruen ...

Ohio: Emergency Powers Bill Advances to House Floor

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ohio: Emergency Powers Bill Advances to House Floor

Today, the House Government Oversight committee voted 8-5 to pass Senate Bill 185, to guarantee that Second Amendment rights remain protected during emergencies. It will now go to the House floor for further consideration.

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

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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.