The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued an advisory to Federal Firearm License (FFL) holders, manufacturers and distributors Tuesday, reminding them that the agency will prioritize investigations into “willful” violations of the ghost gun final rule.
The ATF final rule for ghost gun frames and receivers, implemented in April 2022, “clarified” the definition of unregistered or “ghost” parts, and the agency plans to use its updated interpretation of “willful” violations to investigate suspected or reported infractions. After President Joe Biden took office, the ATF implemented a “zero tolerance” policy that allows the agency to close gun stores for any violation deemed “willful,” and FFL revocations hit a 16-year high.
“People who engage in the business of dealing firearms are subject to the Gun Control Act. That means they need to run background checks and sell guns with serial numbers. That is what the ghost gun rule is about,” ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said in the advisory. “Today’s advisory is simple. If you’re dealing firearms — including items that can be readily converted to a working firearm — ATF is going to make sure that you are following the same laws as everyone else.”
Dettelbach is scheduled to testify before Congress in April; the House Judiciary Committee has accused the ATF of shutting down “lawful businesses through the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy” and having a “lack of transparency.”
Under the Biden administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy, the previously required warning letters and conference safeguards that were implemented before an FFL was revoked are often circumvented, leaving the ATF to pull licenses on the first go-around, GOA Director of Federal Affairs Aidan Johnston previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In November, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the ATF could no longer enforce the ghost gun rule on firearm kit maker Defense Distributed, according to the ruling. O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction against the rule, saying it is likely unconstitutional and causes an undue burden on the parts maker.
“Enforcement efforts upset decades of ATF regulatory precedent against a public that has relied on that historic posture,” O’Connor wrote. “The liberty interests of law-abiding citizens wishing to engage in historically lawful conduct outweighs the Government’s competing interest in preventing prohibited persons from unlawfully possessing firearms.”
Republican Texas Rep. Pat Fallon and Republican Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs are leading a joint committee meeting Thursday to discuss the “ATF’s assault on the Second Amendment,” according to a release.
“The Biden Administration is weaponizing the ATF to advance a left-wing gun control agenda without regard for fundamental fairness or constitutional rights,” Fallon and Biggs said in the release.
The ATF advisory included a link for citizens to report “suspected violations.”
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