May 22, 2021
|ATF Officially Publishes its Proposed Changes to Alter the Federal Definition of a “Firearm” On May 21, 2021, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (“ATF”) published its official proposal to amend the federal definition of a “firearm,” and implement other corresponding changes. RLF previously reported that the new proposal is designed to enable the federal government to regulate and control the production of so-called “ghost guns.” If enacted, the new regulatory framework would expand the federal definition of a “firearm” to include “a weapon parts kit that is designed to or may readily be assembled, completed, converted, or restored to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” The definition of a “receiver” would also be amended to include “partially completed” receivers. These changes would apply existing federal law to 80% lower receiver kits, requiring manufacturers of the kits to maintain a Federal Firearms License, and serialize the partially completed receivers that they sell. By publishing the proposal, the ATF is taking the procedural steps necessary to change federal firearm law, and to further the Biden Administration’s gun control agenda. |
The proposed amendments would have a substantial impact on the firearm industry, particularly those businesses involved in manufacturing and/or distributing 80% lower receiver kits. The ATF approximates that the proposal will affect roughly 132,023 entities nationwide, and concedes that the “majority of affected entities are small entities.” The proposal will remain open to public comment for 90 days. There are three ways to comment: (1) by accessing the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov; (2) by sending a letter to Andrew Lange, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N–518, Washington, DC 20226; ATTN: ATF 2021R–05.; or (3) by fax to (202) 648– 9741.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor all developments with respect to federal firearm laws and regulations. If you have any questions concerning the potential impact of the ATF’s proposal, or the effect of any proposed, or newly enacted, law in your state, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.
Supreme Court References Red Flag Laws in Fourth Amendment Unlawful Search and Seizure Case On May 17, 2021, Justice Thomas of the United States Supreme Court delivered a unanimous decision in Caniglia v. Strom, et al., which further clarified the scope of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. The case concerned an incident involving the warrantless search of a home, and the seizure of two handguns. The Supreme Court held that the search and seizure was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. In a concurring opinion, however, Justice Alito explained that the Supreme Court’s decision does not address several related topics that were not at issue in the case. He explicitly addressed the body of law concerning so-called “red flag” laws. Red flag laws, which have been enacted by approximately 19 states and the District of Columbia, enable police officers to seize firearms pursuant to a court order to purportedly prevent suicide or the infliction of harm on innocent persons. Recently, there has been some debate about the propriety of various red flag laws, and some argue they violate persons’ rights under the Due Process clause of the United States Constitution.
Interestingly, Justice Alito took the opportunity in his concurring opinion to point out that “red flag laws may be challenged under the Fourth Amendment, and those cases may come before us . . . [but] Our decision today does not address those issues.” The implication is that some red flag laws may be subject to constitutional challenge, and it is possible that such a challenge could potentially end up before the Supreme Court in the future. Red flag laws vary by state and have the potential to impact the rights of law-abiding firearm owners. It is important to be familiar with laws particular to your state.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor critical cases and statutes that potentially impact the rights of law-abiding firearm owners around the country. If you have any questions concerning the potential impact of proposed federal law or the effect of any proposed, or newly enacted, law in your state, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.