Federal Court Blocks Sale of Forced Reset Triggers

A drop-in trigger from Rare Breed.
Rare Breed Triggers’ forced-reset trigger. (Photo: Rare Breed Triggers)

In the latest salvo of the ongoing legal saga involving Rare Breed Triggers, a federal judge in Brooklyn issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) forcing the company to stop selling its “forced reset triggers.”

Stretching back to 2018, before Rare Breed Triggers (RBT) purchased the patent from Wolf Tactical (the company that originated the technology RBT’s FRT-15 trigger is based on), ATF determined that the precursor trigger was a “machinegun” and subject to the National Firearms Act.

The ATF claims that Rare Breed Triggers knew it would be unable to get a letter of determination stating that the FRT-15 trigger was a semi-automatic trigger, so the company chose to hire outside experts to examine it, and issued statements to customers that the triggers were legal based on those findings.

Rare Breed Triggers insists that its product is a semi-automatic trigger, as RBT explains on its website. To be sure, the distinction is arguably a fine one, mostly resting on the ATF’s definition of a “single function of the trigger.”

The 8-step cycle of most common to closed-bolt AR pattern rifles would seem to support Rare Breed’s claim – one pull of the trigger results in one round being fired from the gun.

SEE ALSO: Rare Breed Sues ATF in Defense of FRT-15 Trigger System: It’s Not a ‘Machinegun’

The ATF claims, in an open letter sent to all Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) in March of 2022, that FRTs “do not require shooters to pull and then subsequently release the trigger to fire a second shot.”

The NFA definition of a machinegun clearly makes no mention of a requirement for a shooter to release a trigger, but that point is sure to be argued over in the ongoing court battles between Rare Breed Triggers, its legal supporters, and attorneys for the government.

What is a tangent topic of concern, and perhaps hope for 2A supporters, is that the determination of FRTs as “machineguns” under the NFA seems to have been accomplished in much the same way the ATF banned bump stocks.

The Trump-era ban on bump stocks was recently overturned by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 13-3 decision in Cargill v. Garland, due in part to the ATF acting outside of its legal authority to create laws.  

After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the ATF, Rare Breed Triggers refused to comply and continued selling their FRT-15 trigger.

Over the course of 2022, ATF raids on Rare Breed Triggers, a competitor, and a licensed manufacturer culminated in the president of Rare Breed Triggers, Lawrence DeMonico, loading a large stock of FRT-15 triggers and parts into a U-Haul van, and driving off before the ATF was able to serve a search warrant on the company.

SEE ALSO: Armed Robber Surprised When Texas Victim Has Gun

The ATF and local authorities ultimately located and stopped DeMonico in New Mexico, where they seized nearly 1,000 FRT-15s and thousands of extra parts from his vehicle. Despite the stop and the confiscation of what the ATF claimed were nearly 1,000 “machineguns,” DeMonico wasn’t charged with a crime.

Over the following months, Rare Breed Triggers reorganized as a North Dakota company and filed a lawsuit against the ATF in what was believed to be a more 2A-friendly court. The ATF objected, stating that Rare Breed Triggers only operated a virtual office in North Dakota, so it lacked standing. The court agreed with the ATF in November and dismissed Rare Breed’s case for improper venue.

Despite the legal setbacks, Rare Breed Triggers sourced additional FRTs and continued to sell them to customers.

On January 19, 2023, the ATF filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, NY, seeking a permanent injunction against the company selling its triggers. The court agreed, and issued a preliminary TRO against Rare Breed Triggers, pending legal challenges through April 30th.

As Rare Breed Triggers vows to continue their legal fight, updates are sure to come.

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About the author: Brian Jones Strong 2A proponent, Army Veteran. I earned my writing chops as a military journalist, continuing on to complete my BA at UMD in Communication, before working on political campaigns, and working with firearm regulations. When I’m not bending someone’s ear about the encroachment on our individual rights, I can usually be found at the range, or in my shop pretending to be a hobbyist blacksmith.

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  • Ryan May 29, 2023, 11:57 am

    The atf can’t make laws only congress

  • jerry February 17, 2023, 3:10 pm

    I saw nothing in the article that explains to the folks what is the basic problem that the AFT sees in those triggers. I’m pretty sure that these are the triggers that fire a round when pulled and fire again when released. It seems to me that pulling the trigger fires a round and sets up the condition for another shot when released. So, one pull actually has two functions it can be argued. Personally, I dislike “release” triggers, even when just one round is fired. It doesn’t seem like it is conducive to safety. They are popular with some target shooters because it eliminates pulling the trigger when firing a shot. I’ve been next to them while shooting clays and I’ve never seen an accidental discharge, but they make me nervous. In experienced hands I’m sure they’re fine. Stay safe.

    • Travis Jenkins February 18, 2023, 1:11 pm

      It’s not a binary trigger that you describe. FRT’s use the recoil of the firearm to “move” the finger enough to reset it. With the pressure continuously applied to the trigger that discharges rounds until you physically take your finger off the trigger.

  • Blue Dog (he/him) February 17, 2023, 11:26 am

    Certainly the actions of this DeMonico fellow don’t seem like the actions of an innocent man selling innocent triggers.

    I do confess some ignorance regarding these Rare Breed triggers – I had to watch the video linked in the article to become familiar with how these are different and how they have made themselves a target of the feds. That really, really skirts the line – basically an extra short reset? Almost like building a bump stock into a trigger. At first blush, this does feel like that this trigger, if not fully a firearm under the NFA act of 1934 itself, is trying to counterfeit the function of one. Too close. I’d say it would need registration.

    Maybe a series of tests are in order? Can the average operator load ten rounds in a magazine and only fire six? Maybe have several people not accustomed to fully auto fire do this over and over, with different numbers, and check to see how often the target was achieved.

  • survivor50 February 16, 2023, 5:57 pm

    It fires AUTO ! … Don’t care if you can ” FLICK IT ” and get off ” 1 ” … or ” 2 ” … it’s AUTO ! … And Not even SELECT at THAT !!!

    Somebody had intimate sexual contact with the PUPPY !!! They’re gonna’ LOSE this one …

    • Walleye February 17, 2023, 1:07 pm

      Anti-2A troll.

    • Frank February 18, 2023, 2:01 pm

      It has to be evaluated using the definition put forth in the NFA. No one’s opinion matters any more than ATF’s opinion. Using the language of the NFA, it is not a machine gun. The law can be changed only by legislative bodies. That is… a city or state could choose to regulate these triggers, or the US congress could change or pass new regulation, and have whomever is President at the time, sign it into law. The ATF’s responsibility starts and ends with enforcing the law AS WRITTEN… nothing more.

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