NRA-ILA: Leaked ATF Rule Would Upend Firearm Industry

(Photo: NRA-ILA)


On April 20th, The Reload, published what appears to be a leaked draft of an ATF proposed rule. The leaked document purports to be a proposed rule to change the regulatory definition of frame or receiver and alter federal marking requirements for firearms. The rule, if implemented, would completely upend the firearm industry by changing what parts must legally be considered a “firearm” under federal law.

The name of the proposed rule and the regulatory identifier number match a rule that was transmitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs last week, so there is reason to believe it is authentic. However, this draft may not reflect the final version that will actually be published in the federal register.

The draft rule primarily adds and alters definitions that are used to implement federal firearms laws. 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. It also creates an entirely new marking requirement for certain Federal Firearm Licensees that has no basis in federal statutes.

SEE ALSO: Lawmakers Call on Biden to Address ‘Ghost Guns’ via Executive Fiat

In effect, the rule would mean that many manufacturers would need to get pre-approval from ATF for new firearm designs. To put it another way, the draft takes 107 pages to say “we’ll know it when we see it.”

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.  

Once the proposed rule is actually published in the federal register (which should occur on or before May 8th) interested parties will have 90 days to submit comments. Once the rule is published, NRA will provide guidance for gun owners on how to craft an effective comment. Please check back to soon for more updates on this proposed rule and info on how you can help fight Biden’s anti-gun agenda.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Alexander Daniel May 12, 2021, 2:59 am

    If this law implemented it would completely change the industry of firearms legally under federal law.
    But this will be done soon as possible for the industry of firearms. I think they should make a law first for registration and also restrictions for making heavy firearms.

  • Jerry April 29, 2021, 8:57 pm

    Which is why I have been saying for years that the firearms and ammunition industry needs to put their foot down and tell the government that “if you restrict our ability to manufacture or sell our product to the public we will cease to make available our product to you. If any dealer is found providing you with our product they will lose their dealership and be barred from becoming a dealer again”. Once the government can no longer purchase the guns and ammo they need……

    • Elapid King May 3, 2021, 10:06 am

      Unfortunately, no significant manufacturer would ever tell the .gov off as there is simply far too much money involved. If every manufacturer did, there will always be one who’ll gladly fill the void to become sole supplier.
      And before you bring up Barret and California to counter my position, I know all about it and I also know that they sold few, if any, rifles to Cali at all so they had little to nothing to lose in such an endeavor. That said, companies like Glock and Colt, Sig, FN, HK, etc. would gladly jump at the opportunity to become sole suppliers since they view themselves as government suppliers above all else.

  • Jim April 29, 2021, 3:28 pm

    This is exactly why no one should ever voluntarily give up their guns. We are unfortunately living in a time of a tyrannical government, that will push through their agenda regardless of the Constitution, or Bill of Rights. Therefore the citizens of Free America must only wait until a pro second amendment government is in power to change back these unconstitutional laws. Many Free States of America are already passing laws to ensure their citizens do not loose their rights regardless of what the lunatics in Washington push through by executive order. We will soon find every gun manufacturer seeking refuge in these Free States, to manufacture their products in our capitalist system. So until we have a complete split of the country, into Blue unfree states, and Red free states, or worse a full out civil war, we the people can only wait, vote, and hope sanity prevails.

  • James April 29, 2021, 12:08 pm

    The gun banning groups come up with a new “scare word” to try and frighten the general public.
    First in the 1980’s, they wanted to ban Uzi’s. They said every gang member, every drug dealer ( probably because they watched ‘Miami. Vice) had a Uzi and they should be banned. They didn’t import that many Uzi’s to begin with and they were expensive.. Custmers would look at them but didn’t want to pay the high dollar.
    Next the gun banners wanted to ban Glock pistols. They said Glock pistols were made so terrorists could hijack airplanes! Really? Now Glock pistols are.the most popular with police department s.
    Now the gun banners claim all the criminals are using home made guns for crime. How would they know this? The gun banning groups say it is so easy to build a 80% gun that it only takes 15 minutes to do it! One even claimed one could build a gun faster than you could put gas in your car! What nonsense!
    To build a 80% one needs a machine shop and one needs to make precision drilling. This isn’t like building a bird house.
    The gun banning groups even want serial numbers on all guns parts and a person would have to get a background check to purchase a new trigger or barrel.
    Background checks = gun registration = gun confiscation = concentration death camps. Don’t forget the USA had concentration camps back during WW2.
    The gun banner groups blame ‘ghost guns’ and law abiding gun owners for crime in major cities. Yeah right, the crime increase is because of drugs, gang warfare, homeless, and there are so many record amounts of illegals crossing the southern border, there is no more room to pit them that the Border Patrol putting illegals on busses and sending them to major cities.
    But the power crazed politicians want to ban all guns and enslave all Americans!

    • Blue Dog (he/him) April 29, 2021, 1:20 pm

      There’s probably more than a few out there whose awareness and wariness of ghost guns comes from the ghost gun episode of NCIS.

      While I do think that ghost guns are ways to work around the system and are a loophole that need to be closed, it bothers me when the advocacy against ghost guns is uninformed or devolves to crass scaremongering. Kind of like people arguing to decriminalize marijuana or gambling so it can be taxed.

      • Elapid King May 3, 2021, 10:19 am

        Since when does the federal government have the constitutional authority to regulate firearms? If I’m not mistaken, the second amendment specifically prohibits this practice, and this is affirmed by the innumerable writings of the founders, such as Hamilton himself in Federalist 29 who, despite being a pro-central government at the time, acknowledged that having the arms and militias regulated and thus subservient would be, not only pointless but injurious as well, to the well being of the citizenry.
        Second, how does the Federal possess any constitutional authority to regulate intrastate commerce? No such power appears anywhere in article 1 section 8, which lists the enumerated powers of the government, so how is it that they have come by such a substantial power for themselves? Also, why is it that such a staunch anti-American, anti-constitutionalist such as yourself keep trolling on sites where you are neither wanted nor is your opinion worth more than spittle?

  • Frank April 28, 2021, 4:50 pm

    Maybe the NRA should sue the ATF for federal civil rights violations.

  • Mark Davis April 28, 2021, 11:58 am

    The liberals running the country. Change definitions whenever they can’t get their way legaley. When a court rules in their favor. They claim “It’s settled law” when the court rules in favor of conservatives views. The left goes crazy and claims the court is wrong.
    It’s time to slap these people down. It’s time to stop their crap.

  • butch m. April 28, 2021, 8:33 am

    the atf can eat the fruit of my anus.

    • Blue Dog (he/him) April 29, 2021, 3:59 pm

      Taste the rainbow?

  • Blue Dog (he/him) April 26, 2021, 9:07 pm

    I wasted about an hour and a half of my life reading that. I think in some ways, the author of both this article overstate this document, but in other ways they are probably understating the impact. There are several issues addressed in the 100+ pages. The biggest impact looks to be on personally manufactured firearms or ghost guns. They have some statistics around page 11 or so, that the ATF collected more PMFs than I would expect, over 20,000 over a 5 year period. There are requirements to serialize PMFs as manufactured after the new rules or those sold to pawnbrokers and FFL dealers. I would be quite curious to know how many truly PMFs are sold to pawn shops or FFLs, not just ARs built by home firearm enthusiasts built with 100% lowers. They spilt a lot of ink about parts kits and unfinished (80%) receivers but it just made me think about that guy that built an AK receiver out of a shovel – nothing in the parts kit he bought would require an FFL transfer nor serial number under these new rules.

    Another one that jumped out at me was rolling back allowing FFLs to destroy 4473s after 20 years and instead require FFLs to keep records indefinitely.

    I kept expecting to read that they are defining AR upper receivers as needing serial numbers and maybe Glock slides too but by the mid-80s they have a bunch of charts and it is still just AR lowers and Glock frames. I think it is a good idea to update the legal definition of a receiver to catch up with modern rifle designs. I think this is more ground work, setting the stage for this exact kind of updated modern definition of a receiver in the future. As a former firearm seller myself, I would be interested to see firearms with multiple, different serial numbers. Reminds me of the Benelli Vinci.

    Under other circumstances, this crowd would likely applaud the easing of serialization requirements on silencers.

    • drzhivago May 3, 2021, 10:22 pm

      Anyone who puts a “(he/him)” after his name cannot be taken seriously and clearly doesn’t belong leaving comments here.

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