The ATF is at it Again


Sunday, January 10, 2021

While most Americans are focused on Covid relief and the results of a contested presidential election, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has been busy. 

Just last week, the ATF raided Polymer80, a popular firearm company that manufactures 80% lower receivers for both handguns and rifles. In the past, these 80% receivers have been classified as not firearms by the ATF. However, times are changing.

The raid by the ATF was targeting Polymer80’s “buy build shoot” kits that contain everything needed to convert an 80% receiver to a functioning firearm. The pistol kit includes a jig to mill out the receiver, the receiver, parts for the receiver, a complete slide, and magazines for the receiver. 

For years, 80% receivers have not been considered firearms by the ATF under the Gun Control Act. These receivers require milling and drilling to be able to be adapted to fire projectiles. 

Since these receivers, essentially blocks of metal, aren’t considered firearms, the receivers do not have serial numbers and customers have not been required to undergo a criminal background check to purchase these blocks of metal. 

However, many believe, including the NRA, that the ATF’s latest raid of Polymer80 and retailers that sell their kits was an attempt to seize customer records to create a de-facto gun registry. 

National and state-level gun registries have been outlawed for years. However, the law does not have any provision for when the ATF attempts to seize customer records in lieu of requiring firearms to be registered. 

The Polymer80 raid was an attempt by the ATF to gather customer records on the incident to create a customer database. And since these aren’t firearms, this is “fine.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the ATF came out recently and announced a new rulemaking process related to pistol braces for AR-15 pistols. Essentially, the proposed rule would create “objective factors for classifying weapons with ‘stabilizing braces.’”

These so-called “objective factors” include arbitrary rulesthat aren’t currently definedsuch as caliber, accessory configuration, length of pull, weight, and other factors.

After just five days, the proposed rule garnered over 70,000 comments and was subsequently pulled from consideration by the ATF. However, this is likely just the beginning of the agency’s attack on the Second Amendment.

All this under a Republican president? You bet. 

This isn’t the first time Republicans or even the president has taken shots at the Second Amendment. 

In 2019, the Trump administration banned bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting that killed dozens and injured many more. These devices were considered “machine guns” and owners were ordered to destroy or turn in the pieces of plastic. 

More likely than not, the ATF is just getting started. According to the Firearms Policy Coalition, the ATF and Biden transition team had a call in November to discuss the agency’s priorities. These include restricting pistol stabilizing braces and 80% lower receivers. 

Joe Biden’s “Plan To End Our Gun Violence Epidemic” on his website calls for an assault weapons ban, gun buyback programs, ending online sales of all firearm related products, and much more.

According to the NRA-ILA, roughly 4 million Americans own a pistol brace for AR-15 pistols. If the ATF does what they want, that would turn 4 million Americans into felons literally overnight. 

The ATF has a long, documented history of dropping cases that the agency could potentially end up losing if a judge rules on the case. This prevents any legal precedent with poor treatment towards the ATF and gun control efforts from being used in the future. 

The comments to the latest letter by the ATF shows the dedication of the gun community to protecting the Second Amendment, even if the regulation is very targeted. 

These thousands of comments shows that grassroots activism in the gun world works and should be used in the future, especially with the incoming presidential administration.

The Biden administration has the Second Amendment in their crosshairs, and we’ll need more people willing to go against anti-gun policies to ensure the longevity of the Second Amendent. 

Taylor Giles is a political science and strategic communications major at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. In addition to being an outspoken critic of politics, Taylor is an outdoor and shooting enthusiast.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Taylor Giles

West Virginia University

Taylor Giles is a political science and strategic communications major at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. In addition to being an outspoken critic of politics, Taylor is an outdoor and shooting enthusiast.

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