What Options Does ATF Have?

As I updated yesterday, I think NRA’s move with ATF is meant to buy time. Time is our strongest ally in a situation like this, because you need people to stop thinking with raw emotion and start being more reasonable. All the strategic documents I’ve ever read coming out of the gun control movement (I wish I could find them now) call for immediate action in the wake of a tragedy. Reason being, and they have admitted this, is that they need people in an emotional state to get traction with their ideas. They do not have millions of people who care about this issue deeply. They have people who transiently care. They know time is their enemy.

So what are ATF’s options? They can take the bait and reclassify, which would be an admission they were wrong in the first place. That will attract blame for Las Vegas to ATF and the Obama Administration. That wasn’t put in there just because NRA wanted to tweak Obama (though I will admit it a nice side effect). It’s daring ATF to reclassify. If ATF does reclassify, every bump fire stock out there will become an unregistered machine gun. All of them will have to be tracked down and confiscated. Remember that there’s no new registrations, so you won’t be able to just register it, pay your NFA tax, and be good. If there were only a few thousand of these things out there Monday, there will be tens of thousands of them out there by the end of the week. I can promise you ATF does not want to have to chase after all these things, and then be left explaining how a misclassification resulted in tens of thousands of unregistered machine guns being sold to people with their blessing.

So at the end, ATF is likely to come back and affirm their original ruling, and telling Congress if they want reclassification, the ball is in their court and not ATFs. But this will take some time, and that time will help in getting us a favorable deal. We’ll do much better to negotiate after the news cycle has moved on. Our people are now paying attention, and it’s becoming clear that having the GOP in charge of Congress and the White House is not an immunization against future gun control.

It’s a good idea to write your critters. They do need to hear from us. And that message should be to pass SHARE and National Reciprocity, and not to vote for any future gun control. Despite news stories, NRA does not derive it’s power at the negotiating table because it donates big to politicians. It derives it from all of you calling and bitching to your lawmakers.

30 thoughts on “What Options Does ATF Have?”

  1. And down the road when it’s deal making time, this might be the lever to get the anti’s to finally make their very first compromise, ever.

  2. Can they register them by declaring another amnesty like in 1968? I think they are prohibited from collecting taxes on machine guns but if there was an amnesty there would be no tax collected.

    Edited: Nope just read the law doesn’t leave any leeway.

  3. If they reclassify them they won’t be able to confiscate them. They would have to provide instructions for people to demill them. They did something similar with the Aikins Accelerator when they decided after the fact that the spring was a machine gun. They simply told people to remove the springs. I’m not sure how they got around constructive possession issues there because the combination of the spring and the stock would still be a machine gun.

    1. I didn’t realize they had done with the Akins Accelerator. Yet another complication. They’ll have to write all those guys back and say “Sorry, wrong again, you have to chop them up into at least three pieces now.”

      1. Conceivably they could just require that the shelf where your finger rests has to be ground down. That would render it unbumpable. Combine that with a pin or something to fix the stock and receiver together and you have a clunky fixed stock that you wish you hadn’t spent so much money on.

        1. Once a machine gun, always a machine gun. You could remove the spring because ATF ruled that was the machine gun. I’m surprised they didn’t tell owners to chop up the springs.

          1. Once a machine gun, always a machine gun has no basis in statute. It’s an ATF policy that they can change whenever they want. I doubt they will but its gives them a way out now that they have fiated themselves into a corner.

          2. From what I remember, people had to mail the springs to ATF. I mean, you can’t just go throwing machine guns in the trash – that would be an unlawful transfer to the sanitation department. Imagine if some unknowing person found one of those springs at a landfill and then brought it to a school or aboard a plane. Those springs were deadly machine guns. I can only hope ATF has them locked away in some secure underground facility with 24-hour monitoring. At a minimum.

            FWIW, there is now a springless version of the Akins Accelerator:

    1. Doesn’t work. I looked into this above and then googled for a minute and answered my own question. 922(o) is remarkably simple. It’s illegal to possess a machine gun unless it was legally possessed prior to 922(o) becoming law. The secretary can declare an amnesty for everything else but but machine guns are not allowed.

  4. Very astute view of the current situation. I think they know that a bunch of Republicans would cave on a bill, so pushing the ATF to reclassify buys time. And then when then come back with “sorry, the law allows them”, it punts to Congress, weeks or months after the tragedy.

    Then they can use it to attach to SHARE, and force the Democrats to vote no and admit they don’t want compromise or to improve safety, or vote yes and we get what we want.

    1. Plus, if congress passes something, they may not be able to retroactively ban them. They would be forced to open the registry to new machine guns. This is starting to look like a very well laid trap by the NRA.

  5. Reclassifying, as I said on the other thread, isn’t an admission the ATF was wrong. Its a statement that Slide Fire’s original application was dishonest and their sale of the device was in conflict with the terms of ATF’s approval

    1. Countertop:

      Are you aware of the regulatory procedure needed to get the sign off from the ATF on devices like this? Must they be provided with an actual sample or just patent/engineering specs?

      1. You don’t have to provide them with an actual sample, but you would be a fool not to if you could.

  6. Despite news stories, NRA does not derive it’s power at the negotiating table because it donates big to politicians. It derives it from all of you calling and bitching to your lawmakers.

    If those news stories were honest, they’d cover both sides: NRA has donated some $35 million to candidates over the past two decades. Mickey Bloomberg pledged $50 million in one year to elect anti-gun candidates…

    … and that’s just one guy; it doesn’t count donations from all the OTHER anti-gun people and groups.

  7. I don’t like his message, but at least one guy in the NY Times is honest


    Then there are the endless liberal errors of fact. There is no “gun-show loophole” per se; it’s a private-sale loophole, in other words the right to sell your own stuff. The civilian AR-15 is not a true “assault rifle,” and banning such rifles would have little effect on the overall murder rate, since most homicides are committed with handguns. It’s not true that 40 percent of gun owners buy without a background check; the real number is closer to one-fifth.

    The National Rifle Association does not have Republican “balls in a money clip,” as Jimmy Kimmel put it the other night. The N.R.A. has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998, according to The Washington Post, equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The N.R.A. doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.

    1. That’s a good face-saving maneuver for the BATFE. They can say, “Well, it’s absolutely obvious that they aren’t machine guns according to the law. It was designed not to meet the definition and we even made a recommendation to remove springs to make absolutely certain it wasn’t a machine gun.”

      “But on further consideration, we could see how the definition of AOW could work… thus pay your $5, get registered, and we’re done here.”

      Then we expand the population that has to be exposed to the BATFE’s slow-as-molasses background check process, and get them to move the background check process to NICS, and BATFE just cashes checks and issues stamps to clear the backlog that already exists because of suppressors… or get suppressors off Title II so BATFE has the capacity to deal with the influx of AOW registrations.

  8. I could write mine, but the GOP local union has chased him out of town for having a girlfriend.

  9. I don’t think it matters.

    The Republicans are turning on gun owners AGAIN. Here is the money quote:
    “It’s very clear to everyone here by now that this is a blatant circumvention of existing law,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., who is pushing a bipartisan bill in the House, said on MSNBC Friday.

    “To those who are saying we should just change the regulation, ATF should just change their interpretation — If they agree that these devices should be illegal, then let’s codify it,” he added. “Let’s turn that into law so that a future ATF cannot reinterpret the legislation.”

    1. From the article it seems that the Antis know the NRA’s plan is to try and buy time.

      And they tacitly admit that time isn’t on their side.

      Hence the crowing about and attempt to build GOP momentum

    2. Bad person to quote. Curbelo is a RINO. He was one of the first to cave on DACA.

  10. It is not that hard to convert an AR-15 to full auto. Anyone with a drill press and a compound table (X-Y table)or a mini milling machine can make the necessary changes to a lower receiver. If you could do an 80% lower, you can do a M16 lower. The Full Auto Fire Control Group, INCLUDING the Auto Sear is available for sale over the Internet and AFAIK, is NOT regulated or even an NFA item. They are for sale to repair registered M16 machine guns. Cost? Less than $100.
    Of course, doing so is illegal, but if the Democrats keep going after our gun rights….
    Well, they may bite off more than they can chew.
    Jus’ sayin’

  11. Sebastian, you are completely ignoring the most important sentence in the statement:

    “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

    That is not ambiguous or open to interpretation. It is total capitulation. This is not “buying time,” it is surrendering in advance, in hopes that by surrendering to the administration, they will get a better deal than they would get from Congress. Unfortunately, all it really does is take away their ammo for the coming fight in Congress. This was an unbelievably stupid move on the part of Wayne and Chris, and the board needs to repudiate it.

    1. Oh bullshit. NRA had been silent until this announcement. It’s just the opening salvo in what will play out. I want national reciprocity AND the Share act. You can re-classify bumpfire as AOW with just a letter from ATF. Hell they have put leather holsters, briefcases and BELT BUCKLES on AOW list. But I’m betting the anti’s won’t go for anything and we’ll end up with no changes. Except now the NRA will look “reasonable” and the anti’s will look like fools.

  12. The AR 15 is a modular weapon This battle is against modular weapons So no the bump stock does not convert the AR15 to to full automatic but does simulate.

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