BATFE

Legal Challenges to Bump Stock Ban Begin Rolling In

As reported Tuesday and discussed on the GunLink Forums, the Department of Justice this week issued a new regulation reversing the BATFE’s longstanding position on bump stock devices. This regulation modifies the meaning of certain words and changes the codified definition of machine gun such that it now includes language inclusive of bump stocks.

This reclassification leads to a situation faced by many hundreds of thousands of owners of such devices whereby they must now either destroy or surrender to the BATFE their lawfully purchased property or become overnight felons in possession of illegal, unregistered machine guns.

No doubt worse than the fact that they must now hand over their property – purchased in good faith with assurance from the BATFE that the device was, in fact, not a machine gun – without compensation, is the manner in which the regulation came about.

To be certain, the regulation is causing an uproar among factions of the firearms community with talk about violations of everything from Article I of the US Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws to various and sundry elements of the Bill of Rights to include the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendments.

The Cato Institute published a piece rightly stating that “this regulation is not an attempt to clarify a vague law, but to seize political expediency to expand the power of the executive,” continuing that they may reserve their “right to intervene in the coming litigation.”

It should come as no surprise that the first legal challenges to the Bump Stock Ban were put into motion just a few short hours after the announcement that it had been inked by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker given that the opening shots in this legal battle were fired by some of the more prolific opposition to the change since its early stages.    Continue reading

Acting AG Signs New Bump Stock Ban

Devices Must Be Destroyed Within 90 Days of Rule Being Published

After months of speculation on whether such a measure could be taken under an ostensibly pro-RKBA administration, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker signed a new rule today that classifies “bump stocks” as machine guns and bans their possession. The rule, set to take effect 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register – which is expected to happen this Friday – would require current owners of the devices to destroy them.

The BATFE had previously concluded that such devices were unable to be federally regulated as such because they are simply an accessory part. Following the Mandalay Bay attack in October 2017 in which the attacker allegedly used weapons equipped with such devices, President Trump prompted the DOJ to revisit the matter. AG Jeff Sessions introduced the proposed legislation in March 2018.

The new rule inaccurately concludes that these devices allow a “shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger,” making it a machine gun. Generally, under current regulations, possession or transfer of a machine gun manufactured prior to May 19, 1986 – the date on which the Firearms Owners Protection Act (and the Hughes Amendment thereof) went into effect.

The complete Final Rule can be read here. The summary of the rule reads as follows (emphasis added):

The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to clarify that bump-stock-type devices […] are “machineguns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger. Specifically, these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machinegun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter. Hence, a semiautomatic firearm to which a bump-stock-type device is attached is able to produce automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger. With limited exceptions, the Gun Control Act, as amended, makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machinegun unless it was lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of the statute. The bumpstock-type devices covered by this final rule were not in existence prior to the effective date of the statute, and therefore will be prohibited when this rule becomes effective. Consequently, under the final rule, current possessors of these devices will be required to destroy the devices or abandon them at an ATF office prior to the effective date of the rule.

The BATFE sought public comment on the proposal, receiving upward of 100,000 comments, although passage of such a rule seems to have been a foregone conclusion with direction straight from the White House. Given the Second and Fifth Amendment concerns surrounding the issue and the time frame for it to go into effect, we expect to see a number of legal challenges to the rule.

Department of Justice Announces Bump-Stock-Type Devices Final Rule

BATFEToday, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced that the Department of Justice has amended the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), clarifying that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machinegun” under federal law, as such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

Acting Attorney General Whitaker made the following statement:

“President Donald Trump is a law and order president, who has signed into law millions of dollars in funding for law enforcement officers in our schools, and under his strong leadership, the Department of Justice has prosecuted more gun criminals than ever before as we target violent criminals. We are faithfully following President Trump’s leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semiautomatics into machine guns, are illegal, and we will continue to take illegal guns off of our streets.”

On February 20, 2018, President Trump issued a memorandum instructing the Attorney General “to dedicate all available resources to… propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.” In response to that direction the Department reviewed more than 186,000 public comments and made the decision to make clear that the term “machinegun” as used in the National Firearms Act (NFA), as amended, and Gun Control Act (GCA), as amended, includes all bump-stock-type devices that harness recoil energy to facilitate the continuous operation of a semiautomatic firearm after a single pull of the trigger.   Continue reading

ATF Promotes Fireworks Safety

It’s all fun and games until someone loses a finger… Then it’s just fun.

It’s that time of year again.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is urging people to celebrate a safe Independence Day when it comes to fireworks. Handling illegal fireworks can lead to severe injuries or even death.

We want everyone to be able to safely enjoy the upcoming holiday,” said St. Paul Field Division Special Agent in Charge Kurt Thielhorn. “Pay close attention to the fireworks you are purchasing. Make sure that they are consumer-grade fireworks from a reputable dealer, and because laws vary from city to city, state to state, be sure you are following state and local regulations.

ATF works with the Consumer Products Safety Commission to prevent trafficking of fireworks and illegal explosive devices, such as M-80s, M-100s, quarter sticks, cherry bombs and silver salutes, as they are commonly referred. While these devices are sometimes confused with fireworks, they are not lawful for use by non-licensed consumers.

When considering whether a firework is legal, a key thing to look for is generic or non-labeled packaging and/or poor quality construction,” Thielhorn continued. “Illegal explosive devices meet neither safety nor quality standards of legally manufactured consumer fireworks. Friction, heat, or impact can cause these devices to unintentionally explode.”

ATF and its partners are committed to preventing fireworks related tragedies and are on the lookout for criminal elements attempting to taint legitimate business activities of fireworks industry members. The public is urged to report the use or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices by calling the toll-free ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662). The illegal manufacture, sale, transfer, receipt or transportation of explosive devices can result in federal felony and misdemeanor charges.

More information on ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov. Also, seek out state laws and local government ordinances for further rules and regulations related to fireworks.

Chicago Man Faces Federal Charges for Shooting ATF Agent

Ernesto Godinez, 27, of Chicago, was charged in connection with the shooting of an ATF Agent engaged in his official duties. A federal criminal complaint charges him with assault of a Federal Officer with a dangerous and deadly weapon.

Godinez made an initial court appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez, who ordered him detained until a detention hearing on Thursday, May 17th at 11:00 am.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Celinez Nunez, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; and Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial assistance in the investigation of and search for Godinez was provided by the United States Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois State Police, and several other local police departments.

The officials noted that the investigation continues.

“Violent assaults on law enforcement agents working to make the community safer will not be tolerated,” remarked U.S. Attorney Lausch. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to holding such offenders accountable, as are our local, state, and Federal law enforcement partners, whose tireless investigation to identify and locate the defendant after the shooting made this prosecution possible.”   Continue reading

Las Vegas Man Charged with Selling Hundreds of Firearms Without a License

Welcome to Las VegasA Las Vegas man who allegedly sold hundreds of firearms without a license, some of which were subsequently used in crimes, was charged in federal court today, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.

Sylvester Mitchell, 47, made his initial appearance in court before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen. He was charged by a federal criminal complaint with one count of dealing in firearms without a license. The charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison. A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2018.

As alleged in the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Mitchell purchased approximately 438 firearms between January 2004 and November 2017. Of those firearms, approximately 42 were subsequently recovered and found to have been illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime. Those firearms were recovered in Southern California, Nevada, and Mexico. Two of the most recent recoveries were from homicide scenes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the course of 2017, Mitchell purchased 199 firearms for a total cost of $58,942.

The complaint alleges that Mitchell, who did not have a license to sell firearms, placed several advertisements offering firearms for sale on Backpage.com. ATF records showed a pattern of Mitchell purchasing new firearms from Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) on a weekly basis and that he went to multiple FFLs on the same day. In some instances, he purchased firearms from FFLs and posted the firearms for sale on Backpage.com a few days or weeks later. It further alleges that between June 1, 2017 and September 14, 2017, law enforcement conducted multiple undercover firearms purchases from Mitchell based on his Backpage.com advertisements. Among the purchases was an AR-15 rifle.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that the defendant has committed a crime, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Burton is prosecuting the case.

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