keystone cops
By Harry Vallejo, photographer - International Photographer, Volume 3, Number 3 (page 18), Public Domain,
Previous Post
Next Post
keystone cops
By Harry Vallejo, photographer – International Photographer, Volume 3, Number 3 (page 18), Public Domain

[T]he NFA’s minimum size rules (and the ATF’s interpretations thereof) are an absurd anachronism. Those restrictions originated in a time when Congress thought it could effectively ban all small, concealable firearms, including handguns, and minimum size rules for rifles and shotguns would have been necessary to close an obvious loophole.

But even in 1934, exempting handguns from the NFA was necessary to secure sufficient support for its passage. And with the demise of the handgun ban, the minimum size rules now serve about the same function as a cancer-prone vestigial organ: They don’t accomplish anything useful, but they sure can get you into trouble.

Moreover, in recent years, the Supreme Court has not only affirmed, but underlined as fundamental the right to own handguns for lawful purposes, including self-defense. In other words, the Supreme Court has affirmed the right to own, above all else, the smallest, most concealable firearms of them all. These are arms that the overwhelming majority of gun owners depend on to protect their lives, families, and property.

All this, and yet, the ATF aggressively continues to “interpret” and enforce the NFA’s arbitrary and capricious restrictions on small firearms. Restrictions, mind you, designed to prevent you from owning the functional equivalent of a handgun — the very arm the Supreme Court has recognized lies at the very core of Second Amendment protection. In their intense and perverse crusade against small firearms, the ATF has pursued an extra-constitutional course of action. The agency inconsistently regards small firearms as verboten based on bureaucratic interpretations and determinations that are arbitrary, fluid, idiosyncratic, and unpromulgated.

Mark Houser and Matthew Larosiere in The ATF’s obsession with pistol braces is based on accidental law

Previous Post
Next Post


    • Gov. – “That is why they call them unelected bureaucrats pushing their personal and/or party agenda”.
      There, FIFY.

      • The Gov. was quite clear: that’s what “bureauCRATS” means. I never realized how uncommon this knowledge was until I received a lesson in ignorance from my freshman PoliSci prof; now I seem to read examples once a week.

        • UMM – umm I’m certainly glad that you are so much smarter than the rest of us mere mortals and feel that it is necessary for you to prove your superiority. Thanks a bunch.
          Happy New Year to ya anyway.

      • You forgot faceless. They’re unelected, faceless bureaucrats pushing a personal/party agenda.

  1. A .243 rifle with a sawed off barrel under 16 inches and stock is illegal while a .500 SW revolverwith a 12 inch barrel is legal. Square that circle.

    • Enemy stupider: A .357 Magnum Winchester Model 1892 with a sawed off barrel under 16 inches and stock is illegal while a .357 Magnum revolver with a 12 inch barrel is legal.

      • Stupider still: any post-1898 .22 single-shot with a 15.99″ barrel is illegal, even if it’s 3′ long and weighs 10lb, while not only are all the (much more powerful) handguns you guys mentioned legal, but also 26″ bullpup or folding-stock rifles and shotguns.

      • “Rifle barrels are like sex, the longer the better.”

        That’s what bourbon is for.

        (Titrate carefully…)

        *snicker* 😉

      • You need a long barrel if you’re following the social distancing 6 foot rule.

        And a mask. Don’t forget the mask.

  2. It sounds like the problem in this particular instance is not that the ATF’s interpretation of the law is absurd, but that the law itself is absurd. That law, in turn, is a direct result of the courts’ absurdly overbroad construal of the Interstate Commerce clause, in such a way as to grant the federal government general regulatory power over any and all goods, commercially manufactured or homegrown, at all stages in their lifecycle.

    • The law absolutely *HAD* to be stupid and complex, because at the time literally EVERYBODY understood that restricting firearms in any way was unconstitutional and would be struck down. Politicians, Sheriffs, lawyers, judges, and most of all American citizens understood and believed that RKBA was not to be infringed. Therefore all manner of scurrilous sleight of hand and trickery had to be combined with massive quantities of word games in the attempt to put lipstick on that pig. I’m sure they find it much easier, now, since they simply ignore it. The effort to rob the nation of its freedoms is 80 years old, but just look at the benefits to socialist humanity!

  3. Contradictory and nonsensical regulations/laws should implode on themselves. Kinda like crossing the streams. The fact that they don’t is evidence enough the universe is not a just place.

  4. ATF said they were taking down the pistol brace document, but it is still up. I went and put in a second comment and encourage you to do the same.

  5. NFA is an anachronism in total. SBR regulations are especially funny because it comes from when they were trying to ban handguns lol. Now that didn’t and won’t happen there is no rationale for the regs at all. We just accept it cuz we’re sheep I guess and GOP in Congress doesn’t care.

    • The ATF is no more dangerous than those who allow it to exist. As long as there are those in government who support it’s existence it will continue to do as it pleases. There will be bureaucrats making arbitrary decisions and definitions firearms and accessories with the blessing of Politicians who know that is the only way to get the restrictions they want. It must happen in the darkness of the Bureaucracy because they know it won’t pass muster in the light of day. Their will be judges who will support the efforts of the ATF. Not because of the legality of their decisions, but because it falls in line with their personal beliefs and political agenda. “We the People” are up against the very system we have been told is looking out for Our best interest. This has occurred simply because We have become apathetic to the noise of politics as has been the intent of those in Power along with willing MSM. “We the People” are Our own worst enemies by becoming disinterested in the Who, What and How of those who Control our nation. The idea of Government Of the People, By the People and For the People has become Government Over the People. With No One to Blame but Ourselves. The question to all this a simply one. Will “We the People” continue to Sit back and continue to allow the Our Rights and Freedoms to slowly Die by a thousands cuts as it has for decades. Because to do otherwise could take Us away from Our comfortable existence. I Fear that will be the case. It has become much easier to sit behind a keyboard and scream indignation, than to Stand Up and Deal with the Problem. Our Freedom was passed down to Us from the Blood and Suffering of 100’s of thousands of Patriots who risked all they had or would ever have because they believed in something bigger than themselves. A Nation of Free People who could decide how they wished to Live and Who they wished to Be. Do We Not owe nothing less to those who gave so much that “We the People could live in the Freest Nation humanity has ever witnessed. Courage with an uncertain outcome or Cowardess with comfortable Servitude. 245 years ago Our ancestors were faced with the same question. Because they chose Courage we have reaped the Bounty of their Sacrifice. Which will YOU choose for your ancestors. The Bounty of your Sacrifice or the Servitude of Your Cowardess. Keep Your Powder Dry.

      • The question to all this a simply one. Will “We the People” continue to Sit back and continue to allow the Our Rights and Freedoms to slowly Die by a thousands cuts as it has for decades.


  6. Maybe I want a shorter barrel so the overall length isn’t too long after I add a suppressor. I’d rather have a proper stock instead of a brace, so I take the time to pay a tax, get placed on a list, and wait for months for my permission slip. Now do I have to file MORE paperwork if I want to cross state lines? Now do I have to stress about someone else accidentally temporarily taking possession of my NFA item? Oh, and it’s STILL illegal in some jurisdictions. It’s beyond ridiculous. Honestly, going the pistol route makes it less of a headache.

  7. Politicians and bureaucrats are gonna do what they do, try to make anything and everything a crime, because when everyone is a criminal they think they have power over the rest of us.

  8. Without govt we would have nothing, we would be nothing.

    Next time you complain about govt think instead about what you can do to help govt in this time of crisis.

    • BeLikeKojak,

      Right, because government invents, designs, produces, manages, and maintains all of our products and services in our nation — just like the recent COVID-19 Corona virus vaccines.

      What? Government does not do that? As it turns out, We the People do that.

      Government is — at best — wasteful and incompetent and at worst just plain destructive. The more we get government out of our way, the more we can do.

      • The voting voters voted for safety. THIS is the most pressing issue of the day.

        Without govt for protection we might be invaded by North Korea.

        Which would be far more dangerous than VirusMania.

        • Invaded by NK? Bring it, I’m not starving to death amd have more training than they do. The military can sit this one out, it’ll be a turkey shoot.

        • “Without govt for protection we might be invaded by North Korea.”

          Whatever you’re smoking, can I have some from your bag? 😉

        • “…it’ll be a turkey shoot.”

          Man, my grandfather had an old JC Higgins pump that was well known at the local gun clubs, but was lost in a house fire a couple decades ago (really). I’ve been shopping for a replacement, and I hope I find one in time for the festivities…

          One of the smoothest pump actions out there, and I burned a lot of powder through that thing. Dearly miss it.

    • “Next time you complain about govt think instead about what you can do to help govt in this time of crisis.”

      It’s not like the American citizenry in huge volume has not tried to return its government to being “For, Of, and By the People”, particularly during the last 4 years but it is clear to me that said government has little interest in me beyond collecting my taxes and my forced compliance with principles that are against our nation’s founding and my own Biblical and natural ones. Even something so mundane as presenting comments at a public hearing or town hall can end up with attempts at your being ridiculed or painted as being some counterculture gnome, even though these same principles were the very ones that made the US the greatest nation ever to be founded.

      I’ve been at this since the early 1970s and it’s only gotten worse as the government- local, state and federal, have all grown to where it, and what it professes would’ve been laughed at in 1960.

      Give up? Not me, but I’m also not naiive enough to think I should ask this bloated bureaucracy what “it” thinks I can do to help it. Those things are outlined in the various constitutions and charters. Pity no one of governmental prominence can read, or give a damn about what got us here in the first place. It certainly wasn’t printing paper money…

    • The best way I can think of to help the govt is for it to slim down to a more healthy size, so we should cut it by 60%. That would be a good start at least.

  9. … the minimum [rifle and shotgun] size rules now serve about the same function as a cancer-prone vestigial organ: They don’t accomplish anything useful, but they sure can get you into trouble.

    Au contraire mon ami! The National Firearms Act of 1934 enables fedzilla to attack its political enemies — both directly (arresting people who run afoul of that clearly unconstitutional law) and indirectly (keeping political enemies distracted and dividing their efforts). In that regard, the size rules of the National Firearms Act of 1934 accomplishes a lot.

    The people of our nation would serve themselves well to STOP automatically ascribing benevolent, rational, and competent purposes to all government actions. Instead, it is far more helpful and illuminating if we all realize that the primary purpose of government, in almost every instance, is to attain as much wealth and influence as possible while doing as little as possible.

    • Nah – all injustice is local, especially when it comes to guns.

      As much as the NFA sucks, practically all states (even the “progun” ones) and non-preempted big cities have ridiculous regs that make NFA look generous.

      Much more importantly, you’re not worth “Fedzilla’s” notice unless you’re a dealer or similarly big fish (DAMHIKT). You’re only going down for a gun “violation” (even NFA) unrelated to violent or drug crime, if state or local antis arrest and prosecute you.

  10. **If** the Supreme Court ever gets around to declaring that 2A challenges require the same “heightened scrutiny”” as other fundamental rights, **then** I think the SBS/SBR provisions of the NFA could well be toast:

    (1) As the article accurately describes, the inclusion of SBS/SBR’s in the NFA is clearly a historical accident. That’s not going to fly under any sort of heightened analysis (heck, in the right courts it might not even satisfy intermediate scrutiny).

    (2) The infamous US v. Miller case — which upheld the inclusion of SBS’s in the NFA, but in which the defendant did not participate at all in the Supreme Court appeal (he’d won in the lower court and then promptly disappeared, and his attorney refused to participate further) — would have to be revisited under this new standard. Any heightened scrutiny analysis will require actual evidence, and none was actually submitted to support the inclusion of SBS’s in the NFA. (The Miller Court’s “basis” for upholding the NFA’s restrictions on SBS’s was a naked averment by the Court that SBS’s were not the sort of weapon that would be used by the militia — ignoring that “trench clearer” SBS’s *were* in fact widely used in WWI.)

    (3) The fact that millions of “arm brace” AR pistols have been sold over the past few years, but virtually none of them have been used in crimes, is going to severely cut against finding that the inclusion of SBS/SBR’s in the NFA can satisfy heightened scrutiny. Remember, heightened scrutiny (either strict scrutiny or THT) requires the government to produce actual evidence to support the restriction in question — mere averment doesn’t cut it.

    Again, we need the right “easy” test case (such as Holloway or Folojtar) to get the Supreme Court to impose heightened scrutiny in 2A cases, and *then* start chipping away at the constitutionality of including SBR/SBS’s in the NFA.

    And if / when we are able to get that, then the next logical step would be to make a similar challenge to the Hughes Amendment . . . but not until we have the first two steps completed.

    • “Again, we need the right “easy” test case (such as Holloway or Folojtar) to get the Supreme Court to impose heightened scrutiny in 2A cases, and *then* start chipping away at the constitutionality of including SBR/SBS’s in the NFA.”

      I’m sorry, LKB, but I question the testicular fortitude of the court as it stands today.

      If either of those solid, first steps comes down, the Leftists will pack the court to stop it. I fear the only way out of this shit show is the dis-uniting of these states…

      • Well . . . .

        Thomas, Alito, and Goresuch are solid. ACB appears to be, and one of my contacts that has known her for decades tells me we need not worry about her.

        So we only need one more to “get to five.” Kavanaugh has been talking a good 2A game for years . . . but then again, Judas Roberts did too, before he began his devolution into an invertebrate.

        We’ll know for sure in the next few months, but given that the usual anti-2A commentators have been wetting themselves ever since ACB’s confirmation, I think our odds are significantly better than theirs.

        • I very much hope you are right, but I’m preparing to be disappointed.

          The ugly reality is, a justice we think is ‘safe’ can be turned if they believe their family is threatened, and leftist scum have zero problems playing dirty to get what they want. Something along those lines could be what turned Roberts…

  11. If people knew why the NFA was passed, they would be pissed. I wrote a paper on this for school. It had nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with control. While $200 doesn’t seem like an insurmountable amount of money today, back when the NFA was passed, that same $200 is equal to about $3812 today. The NFA was passed as a means to prevent the poor and average citizens from affording firearms. It removed the ability of the average person while putting all the power into the hands of the rich. The original bill included handguns but was removed due to the fact they feared the people would rise up. So they pushed fear of gangs with full auto cutting people down. Short barrel because they could hide it under their coat, you know, unlike handguns. Finally, suppressors, which were added to the bill while it was being voted on. Nice job, they changed the bill during the vote so no one could oppose it.

    • I was about to write something similar to this. The restrictions of the nfa are features not bugs that were designed to do many things including disarm poor people (often immigrants).

      I would piggy back what you wrote and add that the tax & registration requirement (de facto ban) on sbrs, sbs’s, and aows was in part because chopped down long guns were cheap and common for many people from the “old world”. The obrez was a thing as mosins were plentiful and relatively cheap . . . and the “lupara”, common AF.

    • I’m sure different groups of legislators found different reasons for their votes. One which I heard long ago was the repeal of Prohibition left the government on the verge of (gasp!) actually reducing their store of Keystone Cops during the Depression, since the Revenooers were no longer necessary, so the NFA was intended as a jobs bill to keep all those armed and arrogant agents employed.

  12. Lord help us. Heard this on the news this morning, a doctor taking about his hospitals capability on handling covid victims. ” We’ve got plenty of ventilators, we’re just running out of oxygen. ” , – – -,,,at least that explains why the wasp seem to be getting smaller.

    • There’s no real shortage of O2, it’s distilled from ordinary air in massive quantities. Industrial uses can be shunted for medical uses with little problem.

      Just how do they get that O2 mask to fit on your pointed snout, anyways? 🙂

  13. The BATFE as an organization that has tried to stay relevant for decades. It has a regulatory aspect that they tolerate but don’t embrace except as a means to create law enforcement opportunities. They have a law enforcement aspect which for the most part they perform with mediocrity except for a niche in outlaw motorcycle gangs. They have thousands of case opportunities for felon in possession of a firearm but instead demanded Title 21 in order to compete with the DEA for “sexy” drug cases. Finally they have their explosives and technology which is their one true gem without which they would disappear into the background of the other alphabet guys, the FBI should have secured that post 9/11 and still regrets that.

    What has failed BATFE from nearly the beginning is their “leadership” or lack there of, they just can’t seem to develop talent that can chart plans beyond two steps in any undertaking.

    My comments are based upon experience working with them.

    • BATFE is an organization that is past its prime, largely irrelevant, and should be drastically reduced in size. Let’s look at its functions:
      A government agency for alcohol in 2020? Is moonshine making that big a deal that we still need “revenuers” to hunt down stills?
      Tobacco? Is RJ Reynolds trying to cheat the feds out of their cigarette taxes? The states and localities do a pretty good job enforcing out of state low-tax smokes, to the extent that they can; neither the ATF or Il Duce Cuomo can do much about the butts I buy from my local Indian reservation.
      The only reason ATF exists is to enforce regulations that no longer make sense – if they ever did. Although none of these laws are obeyed by criminals, the ATF does little to investigate and prosecute felons in possession.
      The FBI has the technical expertise to analyze explosives and will be on the scene anyway in any terrorist event; any activity by the ATF could easily be absorbed by the FBI

      • Yeah, right, in NY they kill you for selling those low tax smokes. No trial nor nothing, just choke your ass out! Didn’t even need the Feds.

        • Yeah in NYC it’s a capital crime to sell loose cigarettes. Doesn’t stop you from buying them. While I’m there I can fill my tank with gas too; save $.40 a gallon. Screw NY.

      • “Is moonshine making that big a deal that we still need “revenuers” to hunt down stills?”

        The last I heard, taxes were the single largest part of the cost of drinking ethanol…

    • “Free helicopter rides”

      Along with Dirk Diggler, bring back Serge! 🙂

  14. As much as I support the Right To Bear Arms, the argument over braces has gone off the deep end. In fact it may just be the distraction they want, so they can usher in other infringing laws, while the majority seems to be bickering over pistol braces. If the 2nd Amendment was clearly interpreted, many if not most supporters would agree that the current laws do in fact infringe. Then we get into the never ending debate, about what were they referring to, when they said ‘ARMS’? It is my opinion, that Government regulation has stepped beyond the boundaries of what was originally imagined. For example, I don’t believe I should need to pay $200 to own a Suppressor, or a Shotgun that has a 10″ barrel. However, those that were elected (supposedly) to represent the people (supposedly) did, and laws were enacted. Should those infringements be removed? Lets just say, there are many inconsistencies across the nation that should not exist, when it comes to something as important as: The Right To Bear Arms. Also, there are Federal restrictions, that should be reviewed, and or eliminated. Anyway, something to think about, as we transition to a New Year, and an incoming Administration that has very little Respect for Our Rights. As the saying goes: Choose your battles wisely.

  15. Something to contemplate:
    During the early part of the 20th century, there was armed conflict; union workers, primarily coal miners ( many of them WW1 Vets), against the business owners, hired strike breakers, the National Guard, militias and/or local law enforcement.
    Plenty of atrocities on both sides.
    One engagements was National Guard Troops spraying striking families hiding in tents, with 30-06 water cooled Brownings.
    Determined later by “unbiased” authorities the guard was acting in self defense. I believe this occurred at a Colorado mine.
    One of many battles.
    Very interesting reading.
    I think part of the intent of the NFA, was to take the means of defense away from the working poor.
    My ex-wife’s aunt told us the story of how her father, Kentucky mine owner, had her practice with fully-auto weapons when she was a teenager in the 1930’s.
    Just a thought.

    • “I think part of the intent of the NFA, was to take the means of defense away from the working poor.”

      I think that was the entire point — and the anti-gun legion has never stopped chasing it.

      • Don’t forget people with darker complexions and political opponents. Until a few years ago, you needed a CLEO signature. He (and it was a he) didn’t have to give it to someone he thought was undesirable, even if the applicant was law-abiding and could afford it. If gangsters thought machine guns (or SBRs or SBSs), they could have found CLEOs to bribe or blackmail into signing, and they certainly cod afford the tax.

  16. I’ve long said that the SBS/SBR provisions of the NFA should be struck down because they only exist to close loopholes to the handgun regulations (which were removed before passage).

    But if logic, reason and our Constitution mattered to these people, none of the NFA would exist.

    • If logic mattered, we could point to the military issuing all NFA items to infantry as proof of their military usefulness. According to Miller, this would mean that they were protected by the 2A and immune from NFA regs.

  17. It would seem that the NFA could be declared moot by the simple fact that the “registration requirement” is a TAX–nothing more.
    Imprisonment and fines for failure to pay a $200 TAX is “cruel and unusual punishment as the punishment is disproportionate to the TAX itself.

    • Thats right. 10 years and $250k possible penalties for not paying a $200. TAX on a Constitutionally protected right. I call Bullshit !

      • US v. Dalton says you can’t be charged for failing to pay a tax the government won’t collect (26 U.S.C. §§ 5861). Title 26 is revenue, and the justification for the NFA legality is that it was a revenue measure that couldn’t raise revenue. Unfortunately, the later appeal said he could be charged under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(o). Title 18 is criminal code and says you can’t possess a machine gun that isn’t NFA registered.

  18. As usual lots of comments, some good, some bad and of course the usual lame ones.
    Bottom line: ANY law, rule, or regulation, regardless of who passes, enacts or writes/promulgates it – that is subject to “interpretation” is flat out wrong. That is the ‘problem’ with those who claim that the Constitution is a ‘living document’ – it says what it means and means what it says as written. End of discussion.

      • Which is exactly what the “living document” people want.

        In my 15+ years in marketing communications, I’ve seen a lot of “living documents” produced for various strategic plans. In every case, those documents were dead on arrival. Never referred to again. If it’s subject to arbitrary revision, there’s no point in revising it, because it’ll be outdated the instant someone has a new brain wave. And because it holds no real weight and determines nothing, it’s effectively dead.

        The two or three that didn’t instantly die survived because they weren’t meant to be “living” documents. They contained concrete standards people would be measured by in the future, and as much as mar-com and PR people may have hated being bound by them, those metrics couldn’t be arbitrarily revised out of existence. So everyone paid attention.

        The “living document” progtards (who are probably all mar-com and PR people) miss the all-important fact that the Constitution always was a real living document — and still is. As proof, it’s been amended 21 times, despite the high barriers its framers set.

        Which also shows that it had real meaning and authority from the beginning, otherwise nobody would’ve needed to amend it. And it STILL does, if only because most of America, despite being oblivious to the mockery our government has made of it, still won’t tolerate anyone outright setting it on fire. Which is why the progs keep trying to convince us to consign it to the “living document” trash heap.

        So I mostly agree with you…but there’s a big difference between all dead and mostly dead.

        • “So I mostly agree with you…but there’s a big difference between all dead and mostly dead.”

          Nice ‘Princess Bride’ reference, Mr. Ing.

          5 Choads up… 🙂

  19. The problem is the ATF has been politicized by anti gunners.
    That’s the root of the problem.
    Fill the ATF with people who are either pro-gun, or truly neutral, problem solved.
    Must be Constitutionalists however.

Comments are closed.