Leaked ATF Document Targets Ghost Guns, 80 Percent Receivers, and Silencers

A leaked ATF document published by The Reload requires federal firearm licenses for homemade firearm makers and serial numbers for gun parts.

It also redefines the “Frame or Receiver” to widen the scope of what could be considered as such. Additionally, the document makes proposals for the regulation of silencers.

“The Department of Justice (“Department”) proposes amending Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) regulations to provide new regulatory definitions of ‘firearm frame or receiver’ and ‘frame or receiver’ because the prior regulations failed to capture the full meaning of those terms,” the document states.

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It redefines a receiver to include any unfinished part that can be readily converted into a receiver. Sellers of such parts will be required to obtain licenses, affix serial numbers, and perform background checks.

The proposed rules would put many Americans at risk of felony charges for owning metal pieces that could be perceived as potentially readily convertible into receivers. The ambiguous definition of “readily convertible” would also allow the ATF to apply subjective standards to regulate unfinished firearms.

The Reload's gun journalist Stephen Gutowski highlights the ambiguity of the proposed regulations.

"One court example included in the document said a part completed in “around an eight-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop” was considered “readily” convertible. The only example of a ruling defining when a part is not “readily” convertible involved a process that “required [a] master gunsmith in a gun shop and $65,000 worth of equipment and tools.”

The sale of unfinished receivers alongside other parts would also be outlawed. The ATF had already subjectively ruled that Polymer 80’s “Buy Build Shoot Kit” was subject to background checks for including commonly accessible parts for completing a DIY firearm.

The document also proposes how and when a firearm silencer should be marked.

“For these reasons, ATF is proposing a number of amendments to clarify how and when firearm muffler or silencer parts must be marked and registered in the NFRTR.”

The ATF is expected to release the proposal in a fortnight and receive public comments, but the document would likely remain relatively unchanged. The impact of the new rules would be immense as the document already acknowledges.

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