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The boys and girls at F-Troop in D.C. have issued another edict from on high concerning 80% striker-fired semi-auto pistol frames. With another waive of the regulatory wand, all of those folks with Polymer80 and Lone Wolf kits now face new regulations in a rule change from our benefactors at Biden’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives and Really Big Fires.

Here’s the money quote for those who think the whole letter is too long . . .

Partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar striker-fired semiautomatic pistol frames, including, but not limited to, those sold within parts kits, are regulated by the Gun Control Act (GCA) because they have reached a stage of manufacture where they “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional frame.

In other words, they’re re-re-defining their definition of a firearm, despite years of people building partially completed (80%) guns at home without government regulation. Just like people used to do without government intrusion back in 1791 and before. (cough… West Virginia v. EPA and New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen…cough).

Here’s the ATF’s full letter, dated December 27, 2022.

ATF Issues Open Letter to FFLs to Clarify Application of “Frame or Receiver” Final Rule on Certain Semiautomatic Pistol Frames

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued an open letter today to all federal firearms licensees regarding the application of Final Rule 2021-05F, Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms, on partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar semiautomatic pistol frames.

In April 2022, the Department of Justice announced a new “Frame or Receiver” final rule, which modernizes the definition of a firearm. The final rule, which went into effect in August 2022, clarifies that parts kits that are readily convertible to firearms are subject to the same regulations as firearms made by a federal firearms licensed manufacturer.

Today’s open letter clarifies to the firearm industry and the public how the August 2022 final rule addresses partially complete, disassembled or nonfunctional semiautomatic striker-fired pistol frames or parts kits manufactured, sold or distributed by Polymer80, Lone Wolf and others.

Partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar striker-fired semiautomatic pistol frames, including, but not limited to, those sold within parts kits, are regulated by the Gun Control Act (GCA) because they have reached a stage of manufacture where they “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional frame.

This definition of “readily” applies to each classification of a partially complete frame or receiver under this rule, whether sold alone or as part of a kit; therefore, even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are “frames” and “firearms” as defined in the GCA and its implementing regulations.

“Today’s open letter is another important step in implementing the crucial public safety rule regarding privately made firearms, or Ghost Guns,” said ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. “The partially completed pistol frames described in this open letter are readily convertible to functioning firearms under the Gun Control Act. Ghost Guns can kill like other firearms if they are in the wrong hands, so they are treated as firearms under the law. This means that they must have serial numbers so that law enforcement can trace if they are used in crimes like other guns, and also that those engaged in the business of selling them must be licensed dealers and run background checks.”

If anyone remains unclear about a specific model or configuration, they may submit a request with a sample to ATF, who can only render a formal determination upon receipt of a formal request and physically examining a submitted sample. 

ATF regulates the firearm industry and is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms and violent crimes. More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.

How long this stands before it’s challenged in court under West Virginia v. EPA and/or Bruen is anyone’s guess. It probably won’t be long though. It might even be struck down before Biden leaves office. And wouldn’t that be a shame?

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80 COMMENTS

    • True words.

      “Ghost Guns can kill like other firearms if they are in the wrong hands, so they are treated as firearms under the law.”

      And yet black powder firearms are not considered “firearms” under most BATFE regulations.

      Talk about “ghost” guns.

      • “This means that they must have serial numbers so that law enforcement can trace if they are used in crimes like other guns…”

        Traced to whom? The owner of the stolen gun? The last owner on paper in a private sale state?

        Homie isn’t going to care about a serial number.

        • “Homie isn’t going to care about a serial number.”

          “Homie” is not the target of “tracing”; the legal gun owner is. Tracing is in hopes of being able to charge a legal gun owner with some sort, any sort, of violation of gun control.

  1. And, again, these tyrants get away with this tyranny because We The Little Peeps acquiesce to their tyranny as none of them have been shot, hung, or piked…ie. no personal accountability for infringement…… since about 1791.

  2. The simple response to these unconstitutional regulations where something legal before is now illegal is total civil disobedience and non-compliance. If they come to your home without a warrant simply invoke your states Castle Domain or Make My Day Law if they enter your home do what you have to do to do to protect your second and fourth amendment rights.

    Don’t answer any questions without a lawyer, ask them for their name and id and supervisors name so your lawyer can investigate any violation of your civil rights or them having information on you that is illegal to have or have procured. We now have a government that expects you to obey everything they tell you while they break the law on a daily basis. Time to push back hard by whatever means it takes to prevent them from continuing to be lawless.

    • “The simple response to these unconstitutional regulations where something legal before is now illegal is total civil disobedience and non-compliance.”

      This is how I feel about my Springfield AR 300blk pistol. I purchased it when legal and come take it. I’m not in the best of health so send your unmarried unhealthy douchebags. Hey ATF! FBI! Remember your oath to the Constitution, please…please and if not DIAFF!

  3. “This means that they must have serial numbers so that law enforcement can trace if they are used in crimes like other guns…”

    I did not know that criminals left the serial numbers of their guns at crime scenes so that the guns could be traced to other crime scenes…..Come on, man! That is a truly stupid statement. Tracing is allegedly helpful in determining who was in possession of a firearm at the time of commission of a crime, and that is it. But if it has been many years and many illegal transfers or involves a stolen firearm, tracing is useless. (I am still waiting for the ATF to report how many times a trace is successful in identifying the miscreant shooter/murderer in nondomestic violence cases. I suspect that the success rate is embarrassingly low.)

    • must have serial numbers so that law enforcement can trace

      Yeah, but don’t they need something like a “registry” or “data base” (both illegal) in order to “trace” a serial number?

      • Pretty much! This BS doesn’t affect me but gun owners need to stand together. Quit dissing Illinois residents. THIS IS Everyone! Make it perilous to support ANTI-2A “order’s”. Rant over🙄

      • “…don’t they need something like a “registry” or “data base” (both illegal) in order to “trace” a serial number?”

        Actually…..no.

        You are thinking like a law-abiding gun owner. Authorities are not interested in solving a crime with serial number (or even lands and gooves). A serial number easily leads to the manufacturer, who provides information on who the manufacturer sold the gun to. Which, in turn, leads to a search of the 4473 “bound book”, which provides the identity of the purchaser at the last point of retail sale. The purchaser can then be investigated for possession, or transfer privately. All in all, the intent is to find a way to charge the legal purchaser guilty of violating some gun safety law, especially a legal gun owner who does not have resources to fend off the government; example set, crime wave prevented.

  4. Any moron can see we’re a only a few years away from affordable desktop CNC milling.
    As it is getting a couple of buddies to chip in on a GG3 is pretty easy.

    At what point is a chunk of aluminum not able to be “readily completed” then? To say nothing of 3D printing.

    • That’s like tying the definition of life to available medical technology. A “viable” preemie today wouldn’t have been so “viable” 100 years ago. Their definitions aren’t logical because they don’t care about logic. They want what they want. If they aren’t getting it, then they’ll change the rules and the language to get it. Logic be damned.

  5. The rise of the post Civil War bureaucratic administrative state that has become an unelected, unaccountable 4th branch of government killed the Constitutional Republic we once had.

    Congress outsourced its Constitutional responsibilities to bureaucrats, 1) so they can escape accountability, 2) because governing is hard, and 3) so they can focus on their real job…raising money so they can stay in office.

    Ordinary citizens have next to no say in how this Country is run.

    • focus on their real job…raising money so they can stay in office.

      One congressman was asked on election night after having won reelection, “what do you do tomorrow”? to which the congressman replied “start raising money for 2024″… Simple solutions? Limit spending in ALL elections, stop out of state funding for state and local level races (including US congress) put Senate selection BACK in the State Houses AND do away with unlimited PACS, corporate donations and that “keep 10% of your donations rule” (Stacey Abrams kept 10 million of the 1 billion in donations she received while still owing over 1 million to her staff she claims she can’t pay) Get the MONEY out of politics, too many go in with nothing and walk away multimillionaires…

    • Ticked Off,

      In support of your comment, notice this quote from the ATF letter:

      ATF regulates the firearm industry and is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms and violent crimes.

      That simple sentence summarizes what is horribly wrong with ATF.

      And how is that you ask? Simple: ATF is part of the Treasury Department whose charter is to assess and collect taxes according to tax law which our United States Congress has passed. In case it is not painfully obvious, treasury tasks do NOT include “regulating” any industry or enforcing federal law outside of tax assessments and collection.

      Saying it another exceedingly simple way: that sentence in the ATF letter is a classic example of “mission creep”.

    • Guess what?? Those oppressive three letter agencies just got a huge raise to their budget! There’s a reason for all things…

      Yeah, I’m ticked off too.

  6. It’s past time for videos of an apt machinist going through the hours long process of making a complete lower. Fuck you ATF, we know you are here. Start taking your oath of office seriously, please. You promised to uphold it.

    • oh you misunderstand. They take their oaths very seriously. The promise to Preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.

      You need to understand that the left has simply redefined the words Preserve, protect, and defend.

      Preserve: Preserve it from common sense word interpretation.
      Protect: Protect government from citizen involvement
      Defend: Use force against citizens of the US in order to work the redefined words “preserve” and “protect” above.

      There, all cleared up now.

  7. Well good! I know I feel so much safer now that they have reclassified the clarification that the AFT clarified last June from the clarification that was clarified a few years back when that was cleared up clearly.

    If you ever want to take a simple thing and make it a mess, involve a bureaucracy. Case in point the EPA employs over 15,000 people to determine what qualifies as water. I figured that out when I was 2. I figured out what dirty water was by 3.

    • EPA? We had to scrap plans for a pond at a church camp some 10 years ago, because of a mostly dry streambed. This streambed is dry 6-7 months out of the year, but they declared it to be a “navigable waterway” and would have required us to submit a full Environmental Impact Assessment, before denying us a permit to build.

      • That BS was killed while Trump was in office. If you didn’t “get er done” then you missed it. Obiden/the swamp progs LOVE the waters BS>

      • See how much safer you are!!!!?

        Who are you to determine what is ‘wet’? You need to go to school and spend thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars to a specialist to know what ‘wet’ is. No simpleton such as you and I could ever be expected to know ‘wet’ when we touch or felt it.

        “awaiting moderation”? Can’t wait to know what vile language landed me the “content moderation” filter.

      • A young man purchased my father in law’s property in northern California. A tree had fallen on the property and created a small swamp which the EPA declared a “Wetland”. The tree was 60 yards from a municipal drainage line. Yeah they’re out of control. They said he had to leave it where it lay or pay for an EIA.

    • Got the same line when I wanted to place pipe in a ditch and cover it, water is only present a few times a year during heavy rains and ditch is only a couple of feet wide but still considered a “navigable” waterway, my back yard is “officially” a wetlands area during and after a hurricane…

      • I know someone who went rounds with the EPA over grading and using his own property. They said he couldn’t disturb the area delineated as wetlands. The EPA finally admitted that this land owner actually CREATED THOSE WETLANDS HIMSELF a few years earlier by filling in around it and creating a low area. Imagine creating something in your own yard and the government coming in to say you can’t disturb it!

  8. “In April 2022, the Department of Justice announced a new “Frame or Receiver” final rule, which modernizes the definition of a firearm”

    I can’t believe they’re so stupid to just put this out in writing. The definition of a firearm is defined in US Code. the ATF is given authority to develop administrative rules to implement US Code, and to interpret ambiguities in statute only.

    This is deeper than firearms, it’s a separation of powers issue, and a statement like this can be used as evidence in court that they are effectively re-writing statute and openly admit to it. it’s a guaranteed loss for them.

  9. So….even though firearm registration is supposed to be illegal in the USA.. You are required to have a serial number on your gun so law enforcement can “TRACE” it…Trace it with what, “an illegal firearm registry that includes your serial numbers”…. They need to officially admit that we have a firearm registry in this nation!..

  10. This will become even more interesting when the ATF stumbles across the renewal of the “pour your own” lower. Will liquid polymers become illegal??

  11. The Texas case has already enjoined (? temporary injuncted? lol) the ATF from enforcing this against three 80% companies.

    Is there something missing? How does the ATF (temporarily) lose in federal court on this exact same topic, then come out making rules, and singling out the exact same products they’ve already been told they can’t do?? I would think the Texas judge is going to see this and rightly understand that the ATF continues to think it can do what it wants. Right?

    The judge has been pretty darn clear he thinks the ATF is wrong. https://www.80percentarms.com/blog/80-percent-arms-secures-injunction-against-the-atf/

  12. Seems like an attempt to get around a recent federal judge declaring that an assemblage of items that might be used to make a gun does not make any single part a gun. The word “readily” is a substitute for “might/may”. A fancy term would be “constructive possession”, as in “solvent trap” .

    • exactly, this is ‘re-wording’ under the facade of ‘clarification’ in an attempt to skirt the court decision.

    • felons now, every one. thousands of law abiding people turned into felons overnight by an agency deciding it can make law.

        • “You know they were laughing as they wrote that.”

          Indeed. When working in a federal agency, it was not unknown to write nonsense, just to see what would happen to it.

          I once declined an opportunity to spend DoD money, so I proposed an idiotic project. Got a response from another agency that we were in competition for the same allocation of funds. Told the other agency they could do what they wanted; we only responded because our first response to the call for projects to spend money before the end of the fiscal year was to decline to submit a project.

          After being told my agency would withdraw our project, the other agency people were enraged that we were goofing on the government. Even when they win, libs are outraged.

  13. “are regulated by the Gun Control Act (GCA) because they have reached a stage of manufacture where they “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional frame” – BS

    Are there any stats showing where having a firearms S/N has lead to arrest or conviction for commission of a crime (not gun related). I’d bet so rare as to be near nonexistant.

  14. I can assemble a home depot pipe shotgun in 30 min after leaving the store. This meets their mystery requirements of being “Readily able to be made into a firearm.” and just like that every hardware and plumbing stores need to file for an FFL.

    • CC,

      Very good point.

      All you need: one piece of 3/4-inch galvanized pipe (the “barrel”), one piece of 1-inch galvanized pipe (the “receiver” and “fire control group”), a pipe cap, a nail (the “firing pin”), and some two-part epoxy to afix the “firing pin” (nail) in position.

      And I don’t even think you need any tools. Maybe just a hacksaw blade or some wire cutters to cut the nail a bit shorter.

      Note that there is no machining involved. You just epoxy the nail into the 1-inch cap, screw the cap into the 1-inch galvanized pipe (which hardware stores sell in 12-inch lengths called “pipe nipples”), and VOILA! you have a functional single-shot 12 gauge shotgun.

      As you stated CC, how is that not “readily able to be made into a firearm”?

  15. REBUTTAL

    Dear ATF,
    As always, for now until no longer applicable to each of your agents due to death or The Rapture or alien abduction, go fuck yourself. Each of you individually and as a collective.

  16. The real concern here from the AFT is that “people of color” are building and using these guns legally or illegally. Along with Glock switches, the populace in urban centers of America are the ones who openly will not comply and have zero F’s to give what anyone thinks otherwise.

  17. Lawyer types out there:

    In 2017 it was entirely legal to sell and purchase 80% lower receivers which our beloved federal government defined as nothing more than a hunk of polymer or aluminum–needing additional machining before it could be a functional firearm receiver.

    Suddenly, ATF declares that 80% lower receivers are firearms and therefore any business without a federal firearms license who sold them and anyone who purchased them without going through a Federal Firearms Licensee have committed crimes.

    In other words ATF has declared that a legal activity in 2017 is now a crime. How is that not immediately null-and-void thanks to our U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on ex-post-facto law situations? Clarification: I am referring to ATF attempts to prosecute a business which sold 80% lowers in 2017 or to a person who purchased an 80% lower in 2017. Obviously, ATF attempts to prosecute such sales and purchases after publishing their letter today would not be an ex-post-facto situation.

    • Hmm. So, if I’m understanding all of this correctly, all the (potentially tens upon tens of) thousands of P80 and Lone Wolf frames that were legally purchased, but have not yet been touched and therefore remain in the state in which the ATF declared (via issuance of their letters to each manufacturer) those frames did not meet the criteria to be classified as “firearms”…

      …those frames are now being treated as actual firearms for legal and prosecutorial purposes, even though they cannot possibly fire cartridges in their current state?

      From the AFT’s letter:

      “…even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are “frames” and also “firearms” as defined in the GCA…”

      So an unfinished P80 frame by itself, without the presence or benefit of the necessary jig, drill bits, tools, and other parts necessary to convert it into something that can fire a cartridge, is now considered a gun? I’m confused. It’s a piece of plastic. The AFT itself said so. Now it’s magically a gun because someone typed some words?

    • Note: I am not a lawyer

      An ex-post facto law would be charging you under a new law (or interpretation) for something you did prior to the law.
      Example: On Tuesday, you drove down the highway at 55MPH, the legal speed limit. On Wednesday, the speed limit was reduced to 45MPH. Ex-post facto prohibits charging you on Wednesday for going 55MPH on Tuesday.

      However, this is moving the goal-posts, and goal-post moving (especially for felony offensives) should be the sole purview of the legislature.

      And I read the ATF’s opinion similar to Haz – that if you have an unfinished P80 / Lone Wolf (or even the jig), then you have contraband (if/when this goes into effect) unless it has a serial number, and you underwent a background check.

      • “An ex-post facto law would be charging you under a new law (or interpretation) for something you did prior to the law.”

        Spot on. Attempts to explain the actuality of “ex post facto” has been a struggle. Your paragraph does it much better, along with the speed limit example.

        Thanx.

      • 300BlackoutFan (and Sam I Am),

        I like your explanation. And I believe the current situation falls within ex-post-facto, albeit due to an administrative declaration:

        An activity (selling an 80% lower without an FFL and purchasing an 80% lower without going through an FFL) was legal, now it is not, and fedzilla could attempt to prosecute sellers and purchasers for that activity which was legal when they conducted the activity and now is not.

        Notice that ATF’s letter does not say anything about declaring all 80% lower receivers going forward to be “firearms”. It simply says that all 80% receivers are “firearms” and subject to Gun Control Act of 1968. (e.g. the ATF letter has no grandfathering clause).

        • “And I believe the current situation falls within ex-post-facto, albeit due to an administrative declaration.”

          If a law today makes illegal something that was legal yesterday constituted “ex post facto”, virtually every law in existence would be “ex post facto”.

          Using the hiway speed example, yesterday the speed limit was 70, today the speed limit is 55. You can be cited for driving 70mph today, but not for proof that you drove 70mpy yesterday.

          Anothe example: yesterday, you could discharge a firearm anywhere in the city limits, as a legal activity. Today, a law is effective, prohibiting discharging a firearm in city limits. This is not “ex post facto”, but a change to an existing law, making discharging a firearm in the city no longer a legal activity. However, you cannot legally be charged for firing a gun in city limits yesterday.

          Under what seems a common understanding of “ex post facto”, no new laws regarding behavior could be legally created.

        • Sam I Am,

          The nuance here is that ATF’s letter explaining their new definition allows them to indeed prosecute people for a past action which was legal at that time. That is ex-post-facto.

          Here it is extra explicit: if you purchased an 80% receiver in 2017 which was legal to do at that time, ATF’s letter says that your 80% receiver is a firearm and they can prosecute you today for that 2017 purchase which was legal when back then and now is not.

          Sadly, this should come as no surprise since our Ruling Class has been rocketing toward tyranny–something which our Founders experienced first hand and attempted to thwart with the various provisions of our U.S. Constitution.

  18. Oh, that’s all because,
    Flintlocks by gawd flintlocks.
    Remember Charlton Hesston? “From my cold dead hands”, he was holding a flintlock because he was giving us a hint of what the giverment was going to allow We The People

  19. They will eventually come for the homemade black powder rifle. Because even a homemade black powder rifle, can still kill an army General at three hundred yards.

  20. @uncommon_sense

    The letter doesn’t state that, or imply you can be charged for a legal act in 2017. The letter states that upon effective date, one can be held liable for now possessing the items (contraband), regardless when the item was purchased/first acquired. The unreasonableness would be that the law doesn’t allow time to dispose of the 80% finished parts. But, unreasonable doesn’t mean “ex post facto”.

    If the law is actually “ex post facto”, one would be informed that even if you bought, then sold the 80-percenter, you can be charged for having the 80-percenter at a specific point in time, even though you sold the 80-percenter long before 80-percenters were declare actual firearms.

    In interesting question is whether can be considered in possession of a firearm with what was an 80% part/kit that is now resident in a fully assembled firearm. Do those firearms need to have serial numbers?

    Regarding “ex post facto” law, one must ask. “Why haven’t there already been thousands of lawsuits filed, whenever a law declares a once legal action to be illegal now?

    • “Regarding ‘ex post facto’ law, one must ask. Why haven’t there already been thousands of lawsuits filed, whenever a law declares a once legal action to be illegal now?”

      1. People tend to think a law is “correct” and “constitutional” because they don’t know any better. Ask 100 random people, without explaining, what an ‘ex post facto’ law is and you will probably get a lot of “dunno” and maybe some guessing and maybe some attempts to answer. The very fact of the wording alone, ‘ex post facto’ is too legal-nerdish Latin like for most people to even understand it.

      2. Its costly and takes a dedicated effort. Not all things are have legal groups that will jump in like we have for the second amendment cases. The cost alone, paying for the legal expertise needed, keeps many lawsuits from being filed to fight an ‘ex post facto’ law in court and the case may drag on for a long time and the plaintiff still lose because remember that not all ‘ex post facto’ law has a Bruen type precedent and in most cases interest balancing in favor of the state still exists outside second amendment cases.

      • Individuals may not be widely aware of “ex post facto” laws, but the firearms industry is, and NRA, and GOA, and SAF, etc. Indeed, there are a host of lawyers who understand “ex post facto”. Many would be looking for test cases. No need for a Bruen precedent.

        Fact is that making something illegal today is not “ex post facto”; it is the normal course of law and society.

        When law changes the legality of actions from today, forward, such is a new law, or adjustment to prior law. One cannot be charged for doing what was legal yesterday, but only for not being in compliance with the new law today.

        In the instance of 80-percenters, if one legally bought an 80% kit in 2017, and simply put the kit in a draw until such kits were declared illegal, then possession after the effective date of a regulation declaring that kit to be illegal is not “ex post facto”; there can be no charge for purchasing the 80-percenter in 2017, but only for possession after the effective date of the regulation declaring the kit itself to be a firearm.

        If the ATF declared that the purchase, and/or possession of an unserialized 80% kit, at any time, past, current or future, is a felony, then the inclusion “past” activity would actually be “ex post facto”.

        As it stands, the ATF is declaring unserialized 80% parts/kits are illegal (contraband) as of the effective date of the regulation/law. Leaving the purchase of a kit in 2017 not illegal, but purchase/possession as of the effective date of the law is illegal.

    • Has anyone considered simply making up a serial number and putting it on the lower as required by the state of FL to sell any homemade firearms…

      • “Has anyone considered simply making up a serial number and putting it on the lower …”

        Certainly possible for parts purchased prior to the effective date of the ATF regulation. However, there may be a complication…requirements to report the personal serial number to one or another government agency. The big issue is the massive inventory of parts already in the hands of retailers/distributors.

        Government is always trying to force people to keep a record of phone calls they did not receive.

  21. Texas Federal Court has already told the ATF in 3 separate issuances that the ATF has not been given any such authority by any law

  22. “Texas Federal Court has already told the ATF in 3 separate issuances that the ATF has not been given any such authority by any law”

    Such renderings merely give permission for the dance to begin.

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