Lawmakers Smash ATF, Calls New Frame and Receiver Rule ‘Deeply Flawed’

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan was one of the lawmakers who signed the letter. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Eight Republican members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are taking the ATF to task for what they argue is a clear attempt to usurp the authority of Congress.

The agency’s new rule redefining “frame or receiver” under federal law goes against the will of Congress and infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of the American people, the lawmakers argued in a letter sent to ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson.

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) attempt to expand the definition of firearm, like other ATF regulatory efforts, is deeply flawed, beyond the scope of ATF’s authority, contrary to years of previous ATF opinions, and harmful to millions of law-abiding American firearm owners,” they say.

The lawmakers point out that the agency’s new rule exceeds the authority granted by Congress.

SEE ALSO: California Fire Captain Speaks Out: ‘The ATF Can Get a Warrant and Come to Your House’

The new rule, for example, adds “weapons parts kids” as well as “assembled” and “completed” to the new definition of “frame or receiver.” But the Gun Control Act makes no mentions of parts kits and only describes weapons that are “designed to or may readily be converted” into firearms. By adding new concepts to the statutory definition of “firearm,” the ATF is contradicting the will of Congress.

In addition, the new rule tries to regulate privately made firearms without statutory authorization from Congress, the lawmakers write. The ATF claims that federal law requires all firearms to be serialized, which is how it justifies requiring gun dealers to serialize privately made firearms that come into their possession.

But federal law does not require privately made firearms to be serialized. Only “manufacturers” and “importers” must mark firearms, the lawmakers point out. The ATF attempts to add a new category of regulated entities—“dealer-gunsmith”—that appears nowhere else in federal law.

SEE ALSO: Call to Action: Submit Your Comment on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Today!

By usurping the authority of Congress, the ATF is usurping on the will of the American people and violating their constitutional rights.

“ATF’s rule appears to be a deliberate attempt to usurp the authority of Congress. In so doing, ATF has also unconstitutionally infringed on American citizens’ fundamental Second Amendment rights and privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment,” the letter says. “We strongly urge ATF to abandon its proposed rule issued on May 21, 2021, entitled, “Definition of ‘Frame or Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms.”

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to comment on the new rule by clicking here. This letter described above outlines several great arguments you can make in your comment, and we’ve published some additional tips in this article.

The comment period ends on August 19, so get those comments in before the deadline!

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • DIYinSTL August 13, 2021, 10:05 am

    The criticisms of ATF 2021R-05 in this article are undeservedly mild. The proposed rulemaking would ban 80% frames and receivers unless marked and sold as a firearm. And though it promises to exclude the AR platform and other currently made firearms with two part receivers [for now], you can expect any new firearm with multi-part receivers, the cylinders of revolvers, and possibly other parts, to require marking with manufacturer ID and serial numbers. If you wanted any custom work done on a “PMF” (privately made firearm) by someone who maintains records, you would also have to pay them to engrave their FFL ID and a serial number into your piece. The text of this proposal also suggest that it is illegal for suppressor manufacturers to sell unserialized (and therefore un-taxed) parts, such as an adapter for a different barrel, end cap for a different caliber or even a piston. The kindest adjectives for ATF 2021R-05 would be: overly broad, vague, subjective, and arbitrary.

  • Bill August 13, 2021, 9:32 am

    Well, they’re at it yet again by attempting to overstep their authority from Congress. The ATF has been slapped down like a misbehaving child for decades, they never seem to learn their lesson and have been passed around like an unruly misbehaving stepchild. In decades past they were nearly disbanded for such anti-constitutional practices no matter who tried to rein them in.
    The ATF is a thorn in the side of the government by not properly obeying the law as mandated by Congress. Why has this been allowed to happen?

  • glock19fan August 12, 2021, 12:34 pm

    ATF has always been greedy for Power Over The People and this is the latest example. What is really needed – very badly – is to abolish that organization completely. All these anti-gun laws need to be abolished as well and then we can see “gun crimes” drop big time. A modern city is wilder than the “Wild West” ever was; an armed society is a polite society and if criminals can expect their victims to shoot back then they will think again.

  • Mark N. August 12, 2021, 12:00 am

    Gee, I wonder where the ATF got the idea to try to regulate home made firearms? To make matters worse, the ATF likes to talk about how many ghost guns have been seized from “crime scenes,” never bothering to tell anyone that a crime scene is usually the home of a gang member or other arrestee, but NOT a place where the firearm was used in the commission of a shooting. This isn’t too hard to figure out when they can identify only 325 homicides or attempted homicides with ghost guns, but no one is paying attention.

    • Blue Dog (he/him) August 13, 2021, 10:23 am

      Oh, is 325 not enough to do something? The tree of liberty demands more blood than from these 325 patriots? How many sacrifices a year on the altar of untraceable ghost guns are acceptable, Mark?

      • Richard August 13, 2021, 3:08 pm

        How about you GTFO you liberal troll!!

      • Hondo August 14, 2021, 10:40 am

        Hey bluedouche , do you ever get tired of your own stupidity ?

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