ATF agents
(AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Ryan Cleckner knows a few things about standing up for what’s right, even when it’s not easy.

The former Special Operations sniper, lawyer, author, former NSSF staff member, firearm safety advocate, industry alumnus and entrepreneur and co-owner of Gun University, a site dedicated to firearm education and regulation compliance, took a turn giving Congress a lesson on how rulemaking by the Executive Branch is chipping away at fundamental rights and usurping the role of the Legislative Branch to represent “We the People.”

Cleckner testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform and Antitrust. The topic was “Reining in the Administrative State: Reclaiming Congress’s Legislative Power.”

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) chaired the hearing and explained the importance of Congress reclaiming its role and safeguarding against bureaucracies run amok in his opening statement.

“Today, Americans must routinely follow rules that come from a source other than Congress,” Chairman Massie explained. “In recent years, federal agencies have more-and-more frequently imposed their will on the American people.”

Chairman Massie included the Final Rule on stabilizing pistol braces published by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as an example of bureaucratic overreach.

“It requires gun owners who use stabilizing braces, not bump stocks Mr. Ranking Member [David Cicilline (D-R.I.)], to register their braced pistols, modify their weapons, or risk potential felony charges.”

Back to Basics

Cleckner gave the lawmakers a Civics 101 lesson, reminding them that government derives its authority from the consent of the governed and those governing are accountable to the People.

“When you consider legislation or hold hearings on matters, it is open to the public,” Cleckner testified, “This transparency is fundamental to our Government. Debates on legislation and hearings such as this one, allow for differing opinions to be heard and considered before legislation is passed. Allowing non-elected and non-representative government bureaucrats in Federal Agencies to exercise power that should be limited to Congress, and to do so behind closed doors without accountability nor transparency, is destructive to America, its citizens, and to Congress.”

Cleckner pointed to the clear examples of rule-making by the Biden administration in which the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) unilaterally decided that attaching a pistol brace to an AR pistol is a criminal offense, unless the owner registers the firearm under the National Firearms Act (NFA) as a newly-redefined short-barrel rifle (SBR).

Until the recent Final Rule was published, these were considered legal, even by the ATF’s own determination letters.

“This latest rule that the ATF has made, it redefines laws passed by Congress and it criminalizes the possession of firearms with certain accessories that the ATF itself had previously specifically approved,” Cleckner testified. “This rule, by fiat, effectively gives the ATF the power to determine who is a felon by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. This is not an appropriate enforcement of the law – it is tyranny.”

ATF Doesn’t Write Laws, it Enforces Them

Cleckner explained that it is the responsibility of Congress, which has sole authority, to draft laws. This is especially important when it comes to criminal law. The Executive Branch, which includes the DOJ and ATF, is responsible for executing and administering the law. Nowhere in the Constitution are any of the agencies of the Executive Branch allowed to conjure up criminal law on their own.

Cleckner spelled out the danger for Americans who risk becoming unwitting felons overnight because the ATF flip-flopped on determinations that the pistol brace was legal one day and possession of one without registration is a felony the next.

“The Congressional Research Service estimates between 10 and 40 million of these are out there. Most of these Americans do not know that this rule is happening and even the Americans that do know the rule is happening cannot interpret it because the ATF is using vague and ambiguous language.”

“We’re talking about a piece of plastic that was previously approved by the ATF… and they’re going to be made into felons,” Cleckner added. “This is 18 USC law that ATF is trying to redefine and trying to rewrite and serious crimes, confusing regulations, going back-and-forth, I don’t see how that’s helping anybody.”

Three times in recent years (bump stocks, frames or receivers and now arm braces) ATF has reversed longstanding guidance the industry has relied upon to bring products to market and sell them lawfully to law-abiding Americans only to have ATF change its mind because it was politically expedient. The growth of the Administrative State, the unelected Fourth Branch of government, is a danger to democracy.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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    • The Owned DemonRats have weaponized just about all Federal Agencies against
      “We The People” They are the Enemy (along with a few Traitor GOP clowns).

  1. House members and civic lessons? Is this a joke? We all know they don’t care about our rights, they care about their careers. Whatever benefits them the most is what agenda they will push. It’s in one ear and out the other for these people.

    • “It’s in one ear and out the other for these people.”

      Exactly what I was going to post. Instead of at least asking questions and lay out their arguments, the dems busy themselves playing candy crush whenever the guy testifying isn’t their guy.

    • Correct. I used to work for a member of the House of Representatives. Trust me, they know exactly what they’re doing to us.

      I cannot stand these people.

        • Southern,

          “They were elected to govern . . . “. And there’s you first mistake, my friend. They were, each of them, to do a SPECIFIC, LIMITED job – legislators to write and adopt laws, consistent with the Constitution and inherent human rights; executive branch to administer and enforce those laws AS WRITTEN (and consistent with inherent rights and the Constitution); and judiciary to act as ‘umpires’ with respect to the enforcement of the laws. That’s it, in total.

          NOWHERE in the Constitution is the administrative state authorized or contemplated. Find me “executive orders” in the Constitution. find me the basis for bureaucrats to engage in lawmaking under the thin fig leaf of “rulemaking”. The modern concept of government as nanny and ruler started with Lincoln (admittedly, he was impelled to do it by the Civil War, but it was still a giant step away from the basic structure envisioned by our Founders), the execrable Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson took that and ran with it, then FDR came along and ‘gave the people what they wanted’, good and hard. It’s been a steady downhill slide.

          NONE of it contemplated by our Founders, and supported by our existing legislators, executives, and judges, because it increases their power. Meh. We let this mess happen, so it’s up to ‘we the People’ to fix it. It’s sure as hell the gummint won’t!

  2. Well now, some are dedicated commies, lol.

    And sneaky! This from the suit of Jake Stanley DeWilde: “But the Court rebuffed this objection,” reads the federal government’s filing, “explaining that ‘the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty.’.”

    Note that all weapons were lawful at the time, including artillery and set guns.

    • AMEN! The people have a right to own weapons and arms that are equal to that of our military and law enforcement in order to be able ot defend our selves against a Tyrannical Government! Which at this point it 100% “IS”! I have lived in one of the bluest states all my life minus a few years due to military service and other obligations. Now most of us here in N.J. have been turned into felons ,due to the simple FACT that our states leader took it upon him self to change our Constitutional laws in such a way as to make us all less safe ,all while allowing violent criminals, rapists, and even child murderers our of prison so they dont catch a flue/cold!???
      All while trying to disarm his citizens and make them even more unsafe! Commrad Murphy is yet another state leader that should not be in power and should be in prison for his unAmerican rule making as he is the states ruler ,rather then the peoples servant?!?!?!? He did the same things that Cuomo of N.Y. did and yet is still in power ,after killing off a large portion of our seniors due to compying Cuomo’s actions and yet hes still in office while Cuomo was removed????! The only people that can change all this, are the citizens of this once, great nation and they are all sitting on their hands!!! HELLO?

  3. Waiting on a brace ruling.
    The ATF sent out an e-file reminder last night telling FFL’s they can’t do the work for the customer so I guess their are a lot of tech-troubled Fudd Boomers trying to get their SBR stamp and can’t figure out how it works.

    • My thought exactly when I got that notification too.

      All sorts of warnings about signing into owners accounts to assist them in the process.

    • Here it is:

      eForms Rules of Behavior
      This is a reminder that a responsible person or an employee of an FFL may not sign and certify an eForm on behalf of a customer or applicant. Additionally, a business name should not be used in place of an employee name.
      The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) eForms rules of behavior clearly state that –
      “It is a violation of these rules to request access to a user account if you are not the account holder, or a bona fide employee of the account holder with responsibilities requiring the user of ATF’s eForms on behalf of a business entity. Actions of this type constitute a breach of system security and will result in immediate termination of your assigned USERID/password form the system.”
      The rules of behavior further state that:
      “The USERID, password and PIN are to be used solely for personal use or in connection with the performance of your work-related responsibilities if these responsibilities require the use of ATF’s eForms on behalf of a business entity. Use of your USERID, password or PIN by anyone other than yourself is expressly prohibited. You agree to be responsible for the safeguarding and confidentiality of the assigned information and accountable for all activity with your USERID. Further, you agree that you will not provide this confidential USERID/password to another user, nor will you sign on to ATF’s eForms so that another person may access ATF’s eForms in your absence or on your behalf.”
      Failure to abide by the eForms rules of behavior could result in suspension of your access to the ATF eForms system and disapproval of any forms you have already submitted. Please do not hesitate to contact ATF if you have any questions or concerns about this matter.

  4. Y’all should watch/listen to the next speaker from the ‘other side’. She sucks up to the Deep State really well.

  5. “……former NSSF staff member…..”

    Sooooooooo, he can look NO further than the organization he was once a staff member of to see the problem glaring back at him.

    Truth Bombs……..

    NSSF is nothing more then a FUDD operation.

    NSSF does NOT believe in due process when it comes to red flag laws.

    NSSF gives scum like J Cornyn, Mitch McCONnell and Lindsay Graham all ‘A’ ratings for their position on the 2nd A.

  6. Something my Ol’Man taught me almost 60 years ago while growing up on the farm. You should never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. A lesson every person should learn and understand when attempting to deal with Liberal/Progressive Democrats. Regardless of the topic at hand.

  7. it’s not just the aft, all the alphabet agencies, bureaus, divisions whatever they may be called are out of control. Most should be defunded and disbanded.

  8. David Cicilline basically said he and his cohorts are too stupid to make an informed decision based on the recommendations of an alphabet agency. C**k sucking coward. How convenient.

  9. Waste of time as the slimy pols have already made up their minds which way they will go. The biggest threat to our nation, career politicians and bureaucrats.

    • Yep. It’s time though, that we seriously contemplate making a point. There’s only 6,000 to 7,000 ATF Agents, and 10,000,000 to 40,000,000 Brace Owners.Thus it’s either a 1,667 : 1 or 5,714 : 1 Ratio of Brace Owners v ATF Agents. If We stand together, there’s no way in hell they could enforce their Unconstitutional Actions. If they even attempted action against a vastly numerically superior opponents, even with their superior weapons (Full auto, explosives ect), there would be a hell of a lot of vacancies at the ATF, as body bag after body bag gets filled. I’ve a 2nd Cousin in the ATF, and I’d have no hesitation in plugging that wanna be Tyrant. He’s always been a Sociopathic A$$hole, even when we were kids, and the world would be a better place without him.

  10. If you’re going to testify before Congress, have enough respect to shave the scraggly ass moronic beard off before doing so.

  11. The simplest way to solve the Gun Control situation is take everything back to the Bill of Rights. All of the Founding Fathers declared the Bill of Rights a documentation in writing of GOD given rights no person shall infringe upon, abridge or amend in any way, shape or form. By the Founders’ words all laws hindering a citizen from entering a gun dealership, picking the firearm of their choice whether a Red Ryder BB Gun or an M-60 Machine Gun, paying for it and walking out the door with it, no Form 4473, no NFA Paperwork, no background check are illegal, Un-Constitutional and very likely treasonous. Geo. Washington, himself said firearms in the hands of the citizenry are the teeth of Liberty. Time to scrap each and every gun control law and disband the ATF.

  12. The only way to make this real for them is for some agency almost everyone has forgotten to reinterpret some vague law that almost everyone has forgotten about, to require congress, their staff, the executive branch and their staff, and the judiciary and their staff to pass rigorous bi-monthly civics exams with at least a 80% score. To fail to be aware of having to take the exam, or refusal to take the exam, or to fail to pass with the required proficiency, should be reinterpreted to be a class A felony with 20 years in prison and/or $1,000,000.00 fine.

    Perp walk about 100 bureaucrats, members of Congress, judges and presidential staff and see what happens. Sorry your Honor, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  13. If a pistol brace makes a firearm more controllable, it is safer. The ATF should be approving pistol braces.


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