SAF Files Amicus Opposing Forced ATF Adoption of Extreme Gun Definition

Alan Gottlieb, founder of SAF. (Photo: NY Daily News)

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today filed an amicus brief in a federal case that is trying to force the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to define certain firearms components as “firearms.”

“Forcing ATF to adopt the new approach to classification of certain gun components that the plaintiffs in this case are demanding would greatly expand ATF authority beyond the 1968 Gun Control Act,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “If their effort succeeds, it would violate rights protected by the Second Amendment by imposing restrictions on otherwise lawful Second Amendment activity excluded from the GCA.”

Consistent with congressional intent under the GCA, ATF long ago determined that unfinished frame and receiver blanks without any machine work or indexing have not yet reached a stage of manufacture in which they are classified as firearm frames or receivers under the GCA. Various special interests are now challenging ATF’s interpretation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case is known as City of Syracuse, NY et al v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives et al.

The lawsuit was filed last year by the Cities of Syracuse, N.Y., San Jose, Calif., Chicago, Ill., and Columbia, S.C. along with the billionaire-backed Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. In addition to ATF as an agency, defendants include Acting ATF director Regina Lombardo in her official capacity, plus the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General.

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At issue are such things as frame blanks or partially-manufactured frames for firearms, also commonly known as “80% frames” or “unfinished receivers.”

The issues in this case can have unprecedented ramifications on the rights of SAF members.  SAF’s intimate knowledge of the ATF interpretations at issue, the Second Amendment implications of the interpretations, and SAF’s quantitative assessment of the administrative record will provide a unique perspective and helpful insight to the Court in resolving these issues.

“Building your own firearms is a long-standing tradition in this country, from the earliest days of the Republic to the present day,” Gottlieb explained. “There are adequate existing laws and regulations covering this time-honored activity, which the gun prohibition lobby and its allies in municipal governments around the country now wish to restrict, if not entirely destroy. We simply cannot stand by and allow this to happen.”

SAF’s brief was prepared by attorneys Matthew A. Goldstein with Farhang & Medcoff PLLC and David Hardy, both located in Tucson, Ariz.

About SAF

The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.  Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 700,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control. 

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Mark N. February 4, 2021, 1:21 am

    The purpose of the lawsuit is to either eliminate entirely home-built firearms (good luck with that) or to require, as is now the law in California, that home-built firearms are accompanied by a background check prior to construction. If 80% receivers are declared to be “firearms,” then the could be acquired only through an FFL. The main legal problem with the plaintiffs’ claims is that an agency rule a) must fall within the scope of the authorizing legislation, and b) go through the APA rule making process. As the SAF brief posits, the federal law under which the current regulation are issued apply to completed firearms not firearms parts. If the Court accepts the view–which has been the Agency view for decades–that parts are not firearms, then the plaintiffs should lose.

  • Blue Dog (he/him) February 3, 2021, 4:43 pm

    Maybe the filers of the case are a little off-base on this one. I think it would be better to require builders of firearms to serialize their firearms than necessarily serializing 80 percent lowers because where do you draw the line? I remember reading an article – I think it was here on the GunsAmerica digest – about some youtube craftsman who made an AR lower out of melted beer cans. The good citizen did serialize his firearm even though he was not legally obligated to do so. It is that lack of obligation to serialize ghost guns that is a deficiency in current gun safety policy and no requirement to serialize ghost gun lowers would include his zero percent beer can lower.

    80 percent lowers should require a background check, too.

    • Nicks87 February 6, 2021, 2:05 pm

      Silly girl, do you really think a background check and serial numbers prevent people from being killed by firearms? I don’t remember the second amendment having those requirements either.

    • Daniel February 7, 2021, 7:58 am

      Why should that required (serialization and background checks)? Are we seeing a large number of felons and prohibited people building 80% lowers and committing crimes?
      The answer is no. You even calling them ghost guns is from listening to media and anti-gun rhetoric

  • Boba Fett February 3, 2021, 12:11 pm

    I genuinely appreciate everything Alan Gottlieb does for the gun community, but he needs to lose the bow tie ASAP.

    • Tony February 4, 2021, 6:44 pm

      I like his bowtie

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