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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.

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36 Responses to BREAKING: ATF Begins Denying NFA Paperwork for Washington State Residents

  1. This is how the battle for 2A will be fought in the future as we see multiple terms of progressive elitist statists in the federal and state governments. The BATF’s unsupported attempt to ban M855 (directed with plausible deniability by Obama/Holder no doubt) led the way.

    his is the modern version of infringement: legal-ease (legal-sleaze?) and nuanced-backed denials by an anti-gun Copperhead (Civl war term) bureaucrat deep inside the “machine”. Chairman Mao would be proud.

      • Look at the map. Most states are currently red. We need to act fast. Pass laws giving groups like the NRA standing to sue automaticly. This is the weapj the progressives prefer, denying standing, to keep us out of court.

  2. On its face, the idea that SB 5956 permits the sale but not the manufacture of an SBR is ridiculous.

    Any normal person would consider that construction would be equal to purchase when it comes to acquisition.

    Not where THE LAW is concerned. America: running on half-assed made-up fairy tale bullshit that has the power to take everything you have even your very life on a whim.

    • ” half-assed made-up fairy tale bullshit that has the power to take everything you have even your very life on a whim’

      I believe the term they used was hope and change 🙂

      Still, got a good laugh out of your line.

  3. That forum post is from 8/2014. Thousands of WA Form 1s for SBR have been approved since then without any issues until last night. The agent responsible for all of the denials is Ted Clutter, he is out of the office today.

  4. Lets hope this is soooo not true. I just received my first SBR back and have a second Form 1 currently in the mix. I’d really like to get it thru. Deer hunting (or elk, etc for that matter) are finally legal to hunt with SBRs this year in WA state.

  5. It’s true. I received my disapproval notification last night as well for my Form 1 SBR in WA State. I previously had one that was approved last summer. We’ll see if we have to give those up now.

    • So was it on a lower that was a rifle (or pistol) being turned into an SBR or an application for the actual purchase of an SBR? I would assume that if the ATF was doing such a strict interpretation, then purchasing an SBR would be fine…

      • Form 1 is for building/manufacturing. Form 4 is for purchasing an existing NFA item.

        This all sucks very much. I even mentioned a couple weeks ago in another post on here that I felt “acquire according to Federal law” included the ability to build/assemble/manufacture an SBR in WA State. Additionally, the entire point of the amendment that was made to existing WA law to make it legal to have SBRs was to simply negate WA State’s own laws on the subject and defer to Federal law instead. It appears to me as though a mistake was made by omitting “build” or “manufacture” and leaving this all up for interpretation. Or being specific at all instead of just saying, “SBRs are legal in WA in accordance with all applicable Federal laws.”

        Efff. And I have a Form 1 that I was expecting back in the next couple of weeks, too! Hrrrmmf

    • Bummer. I got two of them through the system (AR-15 & CZ Scorpion), before they closed the intent-supersedes-wording loophole.
      I’d let you shoot them, but with I-594 in effect, it’d take six months and $200 every time we handed it back and forth. 😉

    • Yeah my form 1 was just denied last night and if you read the rcw for the denial they misprinted it.

      1’st sbr wishes gone until they fix this rodeo they have going on.

  6. From reading this if you take the word “acquire” on it’s face, don’t you acquire an SBR barrel if you’re building an SBR? In my world you would. Doh, face palm!

  7. Same issue here. Control number 2015119803 submitted 3/14/15, denied 5/27/15 with the same criteria in the original article.

      • Yeah, nice try. Unfortunately that doesn’t count any more. Doing an electronic Form 1, they make you pay at the the time of submission, so the ATF “cash it” immediately. My first Form 1 had the word “The” missing from it and was turned down for that reason. They issued a credit return at that time and I had to resubmit.

  8. Are all SBR Form 1s on hold? Or just all Form 1s from residents of Washington State?

    Asking because I’m making an SBR as we speak. I live in Florida.

  9. “they don’t really care about getting this right — they just care about stopping evil baby killing guns from getting into their state.”

    Except that Form 2/3/4 are still all going through. They just don’t want us making our own, apparently.

  10. Your LMGTFY link goes to SB 5956 (which does exist). The thing in question that does NOT exist is RCW 9.91.190(2). Suggest updating the link for the following:

    “And they’re citing a legal statute to back that up… that doesn’t exist.”

  11. Here is what I have seen so far while search the WA leg site

    HB 1722:

    Sec. 1. RCW 9.41.190 and 2014 c 201 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
    (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or to assemble or repair any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle.

    (2) 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.

    etc with exemptions for LEO, military manufacture etc.

    http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1722&year=2015

    • Assuming the above quotation of the statute is accurate, the problem is in piss poor legislative drafting, not the ATF.

      Paragraph 2 should have said, “paragraph 1 does not apply to a short-barreled rifle that is lawfully possessed in accordance with federal law.” Or something to that effect. When paragraph 1 says you can’t do certain things and the exception in paragraph 2 allows some of those prohibited things but uses alternative language (acquire v. own, buy, sell, and loan), stuff like this happens.

  12. As a retired lawyer, I see that it falls upon me to explain to y’all how the law works in these here United States of ‘Murica.

    “Possess and acquire” doesn’t mean “make” or “manufacture.”

    “Established by the State” means “established by the state, the Federal government, the UN or any planet within or outside the solar system.”

    Do y’all get it now?

  13. The ATF is correct on the law here. As so often happens, less than brilliant, and/or less than even remotely conversant with the subject matter, attorneys (in my own state, including a few who couldn’t even pass the Bar exam) are tasked by the State with drafting the legislation, but don’t properly draft it in such a way as to carry out legislative intent, therefore creating at best the classic Mongolian cluster, and at worst, an outright nullity, which does nothing to accomplish what the legislature intended, and in many cases results in them having to lick their proverbial calf again.

    This is much more a problem with the way the WA statute was drafted than it is a matter of ATF interpretation. You want an SBR, you “make” it, per longstanding ATF regs, and thus file a Form 1 to “manufacture” it yourself. Only the ignorant and/or apathetic drafter wouldn’t include both words prominently in the relevant statute. To quote Jimmy Buffett, “Is is ignorance or apathy? I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

    The amazing thing here is that ATF didn’t catch the obvious screw-up on WA’s part until now.

  14. While this is disheartening, I have no desire to let go all the time and money I’ve invested into my SBR go to waste. I filed my Form 1 on April 8 and haven’t heard anything back, but I have a feeling I will in the near future. What if I gave my gun to my LGS and they created the SBR on a Form 2 and then Form 4’d it back to me? Thoughts?

  15. Could I sell my lower to my LGS, have them configure it into an SBR, and then buy it back from them as an SBR? After the proper paperwork that is.

  16. 1. The law is very literal. You can intend one thing but if you don’t write it clearly your intent doesn’t matter.

    2. In the English language, acquire does not mean make or manufacture.

    3. The paragraph immediately preceding the paragraph making possession or acquisition of an SBR legal, specifically states that the manufacture of machine guns, short barreled shotguns AND short barreled rifles is illegal. The problem is that they did not specifically modify paragraph 1 to make manufacture of SBRs legal. It was poor legislative practice where they simply inserted a new paragraph, without enough thought or editing within context, and did not modify the preceding paragraph to clarify their intent.

    I’m not a lawyer, and I’m NOT against the sale or manufacture of SBRs in WA. I’m just reading BOTH relevant paragraphs of the law and letting you know what they say.

  17. Good to know. Unfortunately, I found this article too late – I already found the answer on another service. BTW, there is an online service through which you can fill out a ATF 4 (5320.4), the fillable blank is here https://goo.gl/BUcHnn.

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