One year ago, Washington state’s government passed legislation finally legalizing the ownership of short barreled rifles. That law was duly signed by the governor, and went into effect 90 days later. Since then, the ATF has been happily approving Form 1s (applications to make and register an NFA firearm) for short barreled rifles. That is, until yesterday. It seems that the ATF has now decided to stop approving all Form 1s for SBRs in the state of Washington because, as they claim, the law allows people to purchase — but not MAKE — an SBR. And they’re citing a legal statute to back that up… that doesn’t exist.
One member of a discussion forum got a hold of someone at the ATF, and the following is their understanding of the situation:
Just spoke with a person over at BATFE regarding 2 of my 3 electronic Form 1’s didn’t have the name of my trust in field 3.
So he told me he will just rescind the two forms and have me resubmit.
Then he told me he had just received information from WA firearm division not to approve any Form 1’s due to the language in the SB 5956 saying individuals are not allowed to manufacture SBR.
The BATFE person then said in their definition, if you are allow to possess SBR then you are allowed to manufacture into SBR.
But he said they will have to wait for an official ruling on this so all form 1’s are on hold, but still recommend to keep on submitting Form 1’s.
On its face, the idea that SB 5956 permits the sale but not the manufacture of an SBR is ridiculous. I’ve read through it a couple times this morning, and the state’s reasoning is entirely based on the word “acquire.” From the bill:
It is not unlawful for a person to possess, transport, acquire, or transfer a short-barreled rifle that is legally registered and possessed, transported, acquired, or transferred in accordance with federal law.
Any normal person would consider that construction would be equal to purchase when it comes to acquisition. Heck, even the ATF agrees with this reading and definition — a ray of common sense sunshine in an otherwise murky bureaucratic morass. However, the lawyers in Washington state’s government seem to read that statute differently.
What makes me truly concerned is that the statute isn’t being listed correctly. Either someone in the ATF or the Washington state legal department didn’t take the time to determine the actual statute under which they are causing all this trouble for law abiding gun owners, and that indicates to me that they don’t really care about getting this right — they just care about stopping evil baby killing guns from getting into their state.