A group of Republican lawmakers wrote to Attorney General William Barr and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Regina Lombardo protesting the agency’s use of non-public standards to regulate the importation of AR-15 style pistols and stabilizing braces.
They warned that the ATF’s approach of exercising regulatory authority from informal and private opinions was dangerous.
“ATF has a responsibility to clearly and distinctly articulate its position, in order to inform the public of changing regulations as soon as possible. A ‘know-it-when-you-see-it’ approach to firearms by the ATF can quickly become a slippery slope for all legal American gun owners as well as government firearm regulation enforcement,” the legislators said.
The letter pointed out that ATF had agreed in 2012 that the attachment of pistol braces on AR pistols did not constitute the manufacture of short-barreled rifles (SBR). The legislators said that the ATF’s determination allowed more Americans to buy the said devices. Unfortunately, banning the devices now would put Americans misled by the same agency into legal jeopardy.
Led by Sens. Ted Cruz, the legislators also questioned the ATF’s decision to categorize firearms as SBRs based on “a collection of ‘indicators’ of which a list was yet to be published.”
They said ATF’s actions “could place millions of American gun owners out of compliance with the law overnight.” Consequently, they declared ATF’s actions tantamount to the infringement of Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
The legislators further requested all the instructions to employees containing the list of criteria, factors, and “indicators” used to determine whether a firearm or a stabilizing brace was an NFA item.
Additionally, they demanded copies of the publications that the ATF used to inform gun owners and manufacturers of such standards.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Cornyn (R - Texas), Todd Young (R- Ind.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tim Scott (S.C.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) signed the letter.
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