October 27, 2020
For immediate release
ATF’s ‘October Surprise’ to Undermine POTUS:
Rogue, Secret ATF Interpretations of Pistols Seek to Undermine President Trump and Criminalize Gun Owners
“By disregarding orders to stand down, rogue ATF agents seem prepared to help usher in a Joe Biden Administration, especially because their actions appear to be purposefully timed to anger President Trump’s base immediately before an election.” — GOA’s Erich Pratt
Springfield, VA – In an apparent reversal of a longstanding interpretation of the statutory and regulatory definition of “handguns” under the Gun Control Act (GCA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) appears to have determined that certain handguns which fire ammunition that is traditionally used in rifles – or handguns made from receivers that have also been used to produce rifles (including many of the AR or AK variant) – are not eligible for importation.
The agency appears to have determined this by using novel and restrictive standards in a revised importation test, which is arbitrarily used to evaluate whether a weapon meets the statutory “sporting purposes” requirement. Congress has never defined what “sporting purposes” means.
The ATF also apparently suggested that legally-imported firearms “may wrongly have been approved for importation” and that these “firearms may require reevaluation.”
While the scope of this suggested “reevaluation” is not clear, if the GCA interpretation is applied for purposes of domestic firearms, then such weapons could meet the National Firearms Act (NFA) definition of “Any Other Weapon (AOW).” If certain firearms were determined to be AOWs, the firearms would be subjected to mandatory registration, taxation, travel restrictions and a lengthy post-purchase, pre-delivery waiting period. Gun owners would then be subject to criminal prosecution for possession of an unregistered NFA weapon, a charge that carries a punishment of up to ten years of imprisonment and fines that can be as high as $250,000.
“Despite an executive action from President Trump prohibiting the imposition of ‘new standards’ without express authorization by law, the apparent interpretation by a rogue and reckless ATF has implications that could criminalize millions of otherwise non-violent and law-abiding gun owners,” Erich Pratt, Senior Vice President, for Gun Owners of America (GOA) said. “This continues to demonstrate why the National Firearms Act should be repealed and the agency itself should be fully dismantled.
“It also demonstrates why President Trump recently issued an Executive Order creating a new classification of ‘Schedule F’ employees. This new classification allows the President to ‘drain the swamp’ by firing policy-making employees who would rather go rogue than follow the law.
“The recent Honey Badger gun ban and revelation of absurd private classification rulings represents a pro-Biden ‘October Surprise’ by an out-of-control, anti-gun ATF. By disregarding orders to stand down, rogue ATF agents seem prepared to help usher in a Joe Biden Administration, especially because their actions appear to be purposefully timed to anger President Trump’s base immediately before an election.
“ATF’s actions are just a taste of what is to come in Joe Biden’s gun controlled-America. The Biden gun control plan seeks to treat many commonly-owned, semi-automatic rifles as NFA weapons, which endangers the freedom of tens of millions of peaceful individuals who own these guns, possession in and of itself should not be a crime,” Pratt concluded.
Erich Pratt, or another GOA spokesperson, is available for interviews. Gun Owners of America, and its sister organization Gun Owners Foundation, are nonprofits dedicated to protecting the right to keep and bear arms without compromise. For more information, visit GOA’s Press Center.
— GOA —