It’s no secret the Biden administration and local governments are seeking to further restrict gun rights at the federal and state levels: Just weeks ago, the Department of Justice submitted, upon instruction by the Biden administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), a new and unilaterally defined “rule”. The address seeks to redefine what constitutes a firearm, albeit without the proper due process and ratification of any new law written by Congress. In the rule, The Department argues that unfinished firearm frames and receivers – effectively inert chunks of plastic and metal – should be redefined as firearms.
But with the Supreme Court’s recent pro-gun ruling against New York – wherein an opinion penned by Justice Clarence Thomas describes many firearm regulations as unconstitutional, lest those regulations be rooted in the “history, tradition, and text” of the Constitution and its amendments – steam is building in the pro-gun community. Lawsuits targeting the ATF’s and DOJ’s unilateral rulemaking have been filed across the country. One case, Vanderstok v. Garland, seeks to bar the ATF from enacting its new policy of defining parts kits – like these Glock kits, which contain only some components necessary to assemble a firearm, but not the functional frame or receiver itself – as firearms-by-definition.
The ATF’s new rules specifically say that if an unfinished frame or receiver is “distributed, or possessed with a compatible jig or template” or sold with additional parts necessary to assemble a firearm once the unfinished frame is fabricated, then it can be considered a firearm under the law because it “makes the build process easier.”
One anonymous firearm builder, who has publicly released instructions for fabricating firearms, says, “We’re not really sure when it becomes a gun. It just depends how hard you look at it, and which amalgamation of parts you have.”
A federal judge seems to agree with pro-gun advocates that the new rules are vague and potentially illegal: On September 2nd, a federal court in Texas ruled against the ATF and in favor of Tactical Machining, a small manufacturer of AR-15 parts that argued they could be forced out of business because of the new regulations. Tactical Machining’s suit claims the ATF didn’t follow appropriate rulemaking process to redefine individual parts and non-firearm kits as firearms.
Jim Jusick, an engineer for the company, said they’ve been forced to stop making and selling some of their products, and currently hold thousands of dollars of inventory and raw materials that cannot be finished, packaged, and sold.
In a filing submitted by Tactical Machining’s lawyers to the court on September 8th, the company asked the judge to expand the preliminary injunction and “fully preserve the status quo” by restoring the old frame and receiver rules nationwide.