The Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project uncovered this week an internal document published by the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team that links privately made firearms (PMFs) with terrorists, criminals, and violent extremists.
“Criminals and violent extremists continue to seek ways to acquire firearms through the production of privately made firearms (PMFs),” the document warns. “PMF awareness and identification can aid PMF recovery, prevention of illicit activities including terrorism, and overall first responder and public safety.”
While the document admits that some activities related to privately made firearms are “lawful and Constitutionally protected,” first responders should be on the lookout for “suspicious PMF use.”
Indicators of such use, according to the document, include “assistance on making ‘undetectable firearms,’” the “presence of 3D printers or materials,” acquiring “commercial firearm-related items that are known PMFs,” larger online orders from firearm suppliers, and the “presence of homemade gun kits.”
Federal agents, in other words, are being trained to look with suspicion on anyone who owns a 3D printer, purchases firearm parts online, or makes their own firearms at home, a practice that’s been common in the United States since before its founding.
If a first responder discovers a firearm without a serial number, the document gives this cryptical advice: “For firearms without a serial number, trace them as a machinegun, which will aid in the accuracy of tracing and also provide intelligence value for investigators.”
Nowhere does the document point out that the majority of PMFs are lawfully manufactured by hobbyists and gun enthusiasts and used exclusively for lawful purposes. The ATF reported that law enforcement recovered 10,000 “ghost guns” in 2019. Many of these firearms, however, likely had the serial numbers removed rather than were manufactured un-serialized. In addition, one 80-percent receiver dealer told “60 Minutes” that millions of “build-it-yourself” gun kits have been sold in the last 10 years.
This is just the latest example of a nationwide, coordinated campaign to vilify Americans who build their own firearms. Multiple Democratic states and cities have launched lawsuits against companies that sell build-it-yourself firearm kits, and last year the ATF raided the headquarters of Polymer80, one of the country’s largest kit sellers.
This year, President Joe Biden tasked the ATF with re-writing federal firearm law to outlaw 80-percent receivers, also called “ghost guns.” The agency had for years told gun owners that 80-percent receivers did not constitute “firearms,” but it hopes to reverse course and re-define firearms in its new proposed rule.
The document uncovered by the Second Amendment Foundation appears to be one in a series of unclassified but internal documents called “First Responder Toolbox.” Published by the National Counterterrorism Center, many of these documents are publicly available and purport to “promote counterterrorism coordination” among law enforcement agencies.