Gun makers baffled by ATF criteria

Dec 8, 2004
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#1
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is in charge of determining whether a gun model is legal, but the agency won’t say much about its criteria.

Despite overseeing an industry that includes machine guns and other deadly weapons, ATF regulations for the manufacture of weapons are often unclear, leading to reliance on a secretive system by which firearms manufacturers can submit proposed weapons for testing and find out one at a time whether they comply with the law, critics say.

The ATF recommends that manufacturers voluntarily submit weapons for case-by-case determination. But those judgments are private and, it turns out, sometimes contradictory. Critics say nearly identical prototypes can be approved for one manufacturer but denied for another.

That process, known as “letter rulings,” results in various findings about what makes a weapon. Program critics, including the ATF’s former assistant director of criminal investigations, said one determination contended that a shoestring was a machine gun.

The letters are sent only to the person submitting the weapon, making it hard for other gun manufacturers, designers and dealers looking for guidance to make judgments about the agency’s evolving interpretations of the federal code. That lack of publication also means that no one knows when the agency issues rulings at odds with similar cases.

‘Definitely contradictory’

Robert E. Sanders, an ATF official for 24 years who is now a North Carolina lawyer specializing in firearms matters, said letter rulings are often “definitely contradictory and inconsistent,” but are necessary because the regulations being applied are ill-defined.

“It is hard to tell what ATF wants you to do without submitting your product and asking for a letter ruling,” he said. “You can’t tell what the agency has said in the past to others, because those letter rulings are generally secret. How could somebody know how to comply with the law?”

Mr. Sanders also serves as one of 75 members of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors.

The letters come from the agency’s Firearms Technology Branch, which tests weapons and related equipment that are submitted voluntarily for compliance rulings.

Mr. Sanders said that submitting a weapon for testing is a “costly and lengthy process” that would not be necessary if the ATF wrote detailed regulations. For example, he said, there are no written regulations on how to modify a machine gun made before a ban went into effect in 1986.

He noted that ATF once issued a letter ruling saying a 14-inch shoestring was a machine gun because it could be used to convert a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic weapon. The letter was later rescinded.

In other cases, the ATF has rescinded letter rulings and caused problems for those who had begun production or sales based on approvals. Contradictory rulings have cost gun manufacturers and dealers hundreds of thousands of dollars in spent and anticipated revenue.

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Hate & Discontent

Yo, homie. Is that my briefcase?
Aug 22, 2005
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#2
I just read the same article earlier today, and considered posting it. The quoted text is just the first of 3 pages, and does a really good job demonstrating just how ass backwards the ATF is. There are multiple cases of the ATF approving an item, accessory, or weapon for sale, then later rescinding the decision, and leaving unsellable items in a manufacturers warehouse, and potentially illegal guns in consumers hands.
 

Neon

ネオン
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Mar 23, 2008
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#3
I see that the ATF will not be outdone by the DEA in the battle for most useless federal agency.
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#5
Well at least their are not two agencies involved... I am still trying to figure out how to import my long guns from Canada... and I have to involve ATF and CBP... took about 5 calls to each agency to figure out how to do it legally... feh.
 

Lord Zero

Viciously Silly
Aug 25, 2008
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#6
They idea is to make it impossible to be 100% compliant with gun making regulations.
 

Hate & Discontent

Yo, homie. Is that my briefcase?
Aug 22, 2005
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#9
They idea is to make it impossible to be 100% compliant with gun making regulations.
Exactly.

Hence, why all alphabet agencies should be SHIT CANNED.
Both of these. They need to turn the NFA enforcement over to the FBI or create a VERY small agency to handle it, and defund the fucking ATF entirely.
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
Sep 15, 2004
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#10
And constitutional carry should be the norm all across the country. CCW should also be allowed (with the same rules across all states/cities) with added benefits for those who are licensed (FA/SBR, etc...) Suppressors should not need additional tax stamps or any other nonsense.

Any politician attempting to subvert the Bill of Rights should be strung up, forthwith.
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#11
And constitutional carry should be the norm all across the country. CCW should also be allowed (with the same rules across all states/cities) with added benefits for those who are licensed (FA/SBR, etc...) Suppressors should not need additional tax stamps or any other nonsense.

Any politician attempting to subvert the Bill of Rights should be strung up, forthwith.
Oddly you can get a suppressor in the UK... for noise pollution issues...
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
Sep 15, 2004
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#12
You use to be able to buy them right in the local hardware store before NFA of 1934. With no restrictions.
 

Hate & Discontent

Yo, homie. Is that my briefcase?
Aug 22, 2005
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#13
And constitutional carry should be the norm all across the country. CCW should also be allowed (with the same rules across all states/cities) with added benefits for those who are licensed (FA/SBR, etc...) Suppressors should not need additional tax stamps or any other nonsense.

Any politician attempting to subvert the Bill of Rights should be strung up, forthwith.
There's zero need for states to have extra restrictions on NFA weapons. The federal restrictions are bad enough. Removing or lowering the tax on suppressors, hiring more NFA inspectors, and repealing the Hughes Amendment would be excellent (albeit pipe dreams).
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
Sep 15, 2004
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#14
Imagine all the awesome suppressors that could have been without all the douche cunts fucking up the works. Same with firearms.

JM Browning didn't have to deal with those fucksticks.
 

Hate & Discontent

Yo, homie. Is that my briefcase?
Aug 22, 2005
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#15
Imagine all the awesome suppressors that could have been without all the douche cunts fucking up the works. Same with firearms.

JM Browning didn't have to deal with those fucksticks.
No shit. I'd love to have a Magpul PDR or FMG, but I doubt either one will ever see production, much less civilian sale.
 
Sep 28, 2010
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Well at least their are not two agencies involved... I am still trying to figure out how to import my long guns from Canada... and I have to involve ATF and CBP... took about 5 calls to each agency to figure out how to do it legally... feh.
Catapult.
 

Don the Radio Guy

G-Bb-A-D
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Mar 30, 2006
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#18
Half of these regulations are made to protect the American gunmakers from competition at this point. So fucking corrupt it's disgusting.
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
Sep 15, 2004
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#19
Legally

Sure he could break multiple laws (including International ones) but he'd be fucked, if he did so.
 

Mags

LDAR, bitch.
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Oct 22, 2004
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#23
Half of these regulations are made to protect the American gunmakers from competition at this point. So fucking corrupt it's disgusting.
You can still get a Chinese SKS for $100.
 

Falldog

Wackbag's Best Conservative
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May 16, 2007
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#25
What part of shall not be infringed, do you not understand... "whaa"

Real liberty is not a bunch of dim wits doing illegal shit on our dime, sir.
What does that have to do with closing down every government agency?