In a letter sent last week to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson, 20 Senators called out the ATF for its practice of passing internal guidance and then enforcing it on an unsuspecting public. The letter specifically discusses ATF’s recent crackdowns on solvent traps and forced reset triggers.
From the letter:
In light of the above, we respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Justice and the ATF provide the following no later than March 25, 2022:
• All internal instructions, directives, or guidance to any and all employees and/or contractors assigned to or working with the Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division containing criteria, factors, or “indicators” to be used to make the determination of whether a “solvent trap” is classified as a silencer subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act.
• All internal instructions, directives, or guidance to any and all employees and/or contractors assigned to or working with the Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division containing criteria, factors, or “indicators” to be used to make the determination of whether a “forced reset trigger” is classified as a machine gun subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act.
• Copies of all publications through which the ATF has made such guidance and criteria available to ATF Agents, including all Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division Technical Bulletins issued regarding “solvent traps” and “forced reset triggers”, including copies of each.
• An explanation as to how these bulletins are used by law enforcement.
• An explanation as to why documents with similar guidance have not been made available to the public.
The ATF is charged by law with enforcing the nation’s federal firearms laws and providing regulatory oversight of the firearms industry. ATF simply has no authority to conceal public guidance and then enforce it on unsuspecting Americans. The ATF must issue only those regulations authorized by Congress, provide notice of the proposed regulations, and then provide the American people with an opportunity to comment before a new rule goes into effect.
March 25th is just a week away. We won’t hold our breath on a meaningful response from the ATF, but we certainly hope this gains traction.
It’s entirely unacceptable that folks who intend to be law-abiding citizens keep finding themselves at odds with surprise new ATF opinions. The law is the law, and random bureaucrats in an office in D.C. shouldn’t be able to spring new and capricious interpretations, guidance, and “rulings” on an unsuspecting population often with post-ex-facto threats of criminal liability.