The news of the leaked white paper for the proposal to deregulate some rules from the ATF has been making it’s way around the web this week.
In an 11-page white paper labeled “not for public distribution,” but which has been obtained by Texas & U.S. Law Shield, Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, outlines several steps the agency could take to remove many restrictions on gun regulations, including suppressors and stabilizing braces, in the United States. Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington walks U.S. Law Shield News Host Sam Malone through the proposals.
What are your thoughts on the deregulation of these accessories?
Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington talks about the pros and cons of Judge Neal Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Will he likely be a friend of the 2nd Amendment, or not? Click to watch the more-in-depth interview to find out.
What are your thoughts on President Trump’s Supreme Court pick?
As Texas & U.S. Law Shield have previously reported, advocates of hearing protection want to pursue new legislation to make suppressors easier to buy, and a key backer is Donald Trump, Jr.
“It’s about safety,” Trump Jr. explains in the video interview above recorded last September with the founder of SilencerCo Joshua Waldron. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”
“Anyone who has ever worried about hearing loss from shooting might want to lend their ears to this cause!” said Emily Taylor, an attorney at the Houston law firm of Walker & Byington.
Now the issue is advancing on several fronts.
On January 9, 2017, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), introduced H.R. 367 to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act control and treat them the same as long guns, replacing the outdated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check.
The measure picked up 42 Republican co-sponsors, including fellow CSC member Congressman John Carter (R-TX), and one Democrat co-sponsor, CSC Co-Chair Gene Green (D-TX). The measure was immediately referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill, whose official title is “To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns,” takes a public-health angle to safeguard the hearing of the nation’s 55 million gun owners.
“This legislation will enable gun owners to have better access to hearing protection products and improve safety for the shooting sports by removing extensive wait times for burdensome paperwork processing that does not advance public safety,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “NSSF is appreciative of Sen. Crapo’s leadership on this firearms safety issue and his willingness to stand alongside lawful American gun owners, hunters, and shooting sports enthusiasts.”
An earlier measure with the same goal is H.R. 3799, known more widely as the Hearing Protection Act of 2015.
About all the bills, Taylor explained, “Currently, the manufacture, purchase, and possession of firearm silencers are regulated by the ATF and must comply with the requirements laid out in the National Firearms Act. Similar to a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, anyone who wants a firearm suppressor must first get approval from the ATF and pay the required tax. An extended waiting period comes along with the time it takes the ATF to process these requests.”
“The Hearing Protection Act seeks to amend the law so that firearm silencers are treated the same way as long guns,” Taylor added. “The bill would make it so that there is no longer a tax associated with the transfer of a firearm silencer, and anyone who pays a tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015 could receive a refund of such tax.
“Additionally, anyone who possessed a firearm silencer would be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements of the NFA. Lastly, the bill would preempt certain state laws that tried to impose taxes or registration requirements on firearm silencers.”
Montana’s Attorney General says Missoula’s gun background check ordinance violates Montana state law.
Originally reported January 26 by Taylor Winkel, NBC Montana
“Missoula’s ordinance is outside of its authority,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. Fox issued an opinion saying state law does not allow cities to exercise any power that affects the right to bear arms.
The ordinance in question was passed in September 2016. It requires private sellers to complete a background check before selling a gun. That means if you’re a gun owner and want to sell your firearm to a friend or colleague, you’re required to run a background check on the buyer, which means the paperwork must be handled by a federally-licensed firearms dealer.
“If there’s going to be one more extra step for somebody to get a gun that can harm somebody, either on purpose or on accident, I think ‘why not’ and create a safer environment for everyone if possible,” Jack Dawson, a Missoula resident told NBC Montana. Missoula City Council member Bryan Von Lossberg sponsored the legislation. He said that he is not surprised by the Attorney General’s decision but does not see a “clear path of appeal.” Von Lossberg says he believes the ordinance is effective and necessary but expected the ruling as the Attorney General had made his position “clear” long before the AG’s ruling was issued.
Von Lossberg also said the council was advised the ordinance was within the law by the city attorney, Jim Nugent. “He absolutely was consulted and issued an opinion making it clear the city was absolutely in its rights to pass this,” explained Von Lossberg.
The attorney general didn’t directly comment on what the city of Missoula needs to do with the ordinance, but did say common sense would be to stop enforcing the ordinance. Right now, Von Lossberg says there’s no immediate plan to appeal the Attorney General’s opinion.
Fox noted Missoula does have certain powers as a charter city, saying it does have the authority to regulate the use and carrying of firearms under state law. However, Fox says state law doesn’t allow Missoula to have an ordinance “enforcing a local regulation or ordinance requiring background checks on firearm sales or transfers within its borders.”
Montana passed a state preemption law thirty years ago to prevent a patchwork of contradictory firearms laws from being enacted across the state. The state previously allowed cities to make their own laws regarding firearms sales, Fox wrote in his opinion, but a 1985 House bill repealed that section of the MCA and replaced it with new language that still is in place. “The purpose of HB 643 was clear — only the state should decide how firearm purchases, sales, and transfers should be regulated, if at all.”
Every Member has to make the decision to intervene in a fight — or not — based on a host of tactical and safety issues. Member Ambassador Sherry Hale interviews Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington to learn how Good Samaritans can stay out of legal trouble if faced with these dangerous situations.
Make sure to check your states laws on protecting yourself, and those around you. Every state is different. Some have clear-cut laws defining the shooters rights, some are vague, and some states have no laws on the books at all, but rather court cases by which to stand behind. Ohio is a rare case, where the shooter (person using deadly force to protect him/herself) must prove their justification for defending themselves.
Post in the comments what the law says in your state!
Perhaps you heard what recently happened to our friends at Full Armor Firearms in Houston.
After 13 burglaries in five years, including one earlier this month, owner James Hillin asked two of his employees to stay overnight in the store.
During the night, two cars pulled into the parking lot. According to the Houston Chronicle, when the Full Armor workers stepped outside with their weapons, one of the five men, who were standing near the employees’ cars, shot at them. The employees were not injured, and gunfire was exchanged as the men drove away.
You can read the whole story, including an interview with owner James Hillin, the criminal backgrounds of the men who were detained, and the likelihood of the case being presented to a grand jury here:
We asked Michele Byington, an attorney at the law firm of Walker & Byington, PLLC, and independent program attorney for Texas Law Shield, for her opinion on the situation and she says the employees were acting legally.
“Here in Texas, both burglary and theft during the night time are considered crimes against which a person may use deadly force. In fact, displaying a firearm to cause apprehension that you will use it if necessary, is considered force, rather than deadly force. So the employees, even though they potentially could have used deadly force, were just using force to stop this situation when they displayed their AR-15s.”
She went on to explain that, while there are very few circumstances where you can shoot a person who is fleeing (and even then, she added, it will be an uphill battle with a jury), the fact that the criminals shot at the employees while running away, justified the return fire by the employees.
“Any time a person has a reasonable belief they are in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury, they may use deadly force to defend themselves. And someone shooting at you definitely qualifies for that!”
Ultimately, Michele stated, the gun store employees acted well within the confines of the law.
Before we get too far into 2017, let’s take a quick look back at the 10 most popular Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog entries from 2016. Gun-law attorneys get into the stickiest issues — restrictions about owning body armor in some states, when you can shoot attacking dogs, how to navigate the carry rules at your church — and pass along legal insights to keep you from having trouble with the legal system. Click each item’s headline to open the story and see what you missed.
New Orleans resident John Ford has the distinction of being the only private citizen with the right to carry a stun gun or TASER within the city limits. But even that right has been limited to just a 90-day period that began on December 14, 2016.
Louisiana law permits possession of stun guns for self-defense without the necessity of a permit, but municipalities are free to enact their own regulations. New Orleans has made the sale and possession of stun guns illegal with a city-wide ban on such devices.
Undeterred, Ford filed a federal lawsuit in U. S. District Court in November against the city and the police superintendent, asserting that the city’s ban violates his state and federal constitutional right to bear arms. Ford is seeking an injunction against enforcement of the ban. He simply wants to keep a stun gun in his home for self-defense rather than having to resort to deadly force if ever confronted with a violent criminal attack.
In his suit, Ford states:
“(Ford) is aware of the potential legal, economic and psychological ramifications of even the justified use of deadly force to defend himself or his home against a violent criminal attack. (He) would prefer to minimize the likelihood that he would have to resort to deadly force in the event he was forced to defend himself or his home against a violent criminal attack.”
On Wednesday, December 14, the city and Ford reached an agreed stipulated order, granting him the sole right to purchase and possess a stun within the city limits of New Orleans. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon ordered the stipulation to be adopted. The agreement staved off for now an injunction being sought by the suit. According to court records, New Orleans city officials “may” take a look at revising somewhat the municipal code section that bans the sale and possession of the non-lethal devices.
But for 90 days at least, Ford, and only Ford, can buy a stun gun and carry it “anywhere a firearm is allowed to be carried either openly or concealed.” without the city having to admit it’s violating state or federal law with the ban.
Attorneys for Ford indicate he will push for the injunction if the city does nothing or not enough to lift the ban.
So, for the next few months, John Ford will be the only private citizen in New Orleans with the legal right to shock you – with a stun gun, that is. –by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog
Our good friend, 22plinkster, with Henry Repeating Arms, and Henry T.V., along with 999 other shooters, just participated in a world record breaking event in Phoenix, AZ.
Check out the video below of the record breaking shoot, featuring interviews with Tim, from the Military Arms Channel, and Matt, from Demolition Ranch as they participate in the largest simultaneous lever-action-shoot in history. A true testament to the Second Amendment, and an important event at the firing line.
Gun enthusiasts and hobbyists have long been building their own firearms by purchasing lower receivers or kits and other parts needed to assemble a firearm.
The lower receiver is a small block of metal about the size of a deck of cards where the trigger mechanism is housed and where bullets pass through. A gun cannot function without it. A finished lower receiver is the piece of the firearm regulated by federal law and must contain a serial number stamped into it.
Technology today and the hundreds or even thousands of websites selling lower receivers, kits, and parts over the internet makes it even easier. There are no background checks required to purchase these lower receivers or kits.
There are no federal restrictions on an individual making a firearm for personal use, so long as it does not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA), according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
The ATF has long held that items such as receiver blanks, “castings” or “machined bodies” in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and un-machined have not reached the “stage of manufacture” which would result in the classification of a firearm per the Gun Control Act of 1934 (GCA). That stage is “80 percent complete.” ATF regulations hold that receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under the GCA.
Furthermore, under federal law, no serial numbers are needed on firearms that are built for personal use, making them untraceable by law enforcement.
By leaving the lower receiver unfinished— meaning only partially drilled — it fails to meet the ATF’s requirement of being more than 80 percent complete and is therefore not considered a “firearm” subject to regulations. Buyers can finish the receivers at home by finishing the drilling.
The ATF refers to such guns as unfinished receivers, though they’re also called 80 percent receivers, home built firearms, or “ghost guns.”
And it’s all perfectly legal.
These self-assembled and untraceable “ghost guns” are becoming increasingly more popular amongst gun enthusiasts across the country and is becoming big business for parts manufacturers and for dealers selling kits.
Elite Custom Railing in Holly Hill, Florida, for example, specializes in unfinished lower receivers for a do-it-yourself AR-15. A company spokesperson said they sell between 100 and 150 lower receivers each day.
It is just one of six companies in Volusia County alone engaged in manufacturing and/or selling kits or unfinished receivers that allow buyers to assemble military-style, semi-automatic rifles at home.
Another Volusia County company, Stone Mountain Gold ‘n Guns in DeLand, will sell the “80% receivers” to a customer only in person and not over the internet as others in the county do. A manager said he will complete the sale only if he feels comfortable with the person buying the receiver. Stone Mountain sells about 20 a month, according to the manager.
The ATF and some law enforcement agencies have expressed a concern about these homemade firearms, believing that the availability of the untraceable receivers will encourage criminals and terrorists to start building their own weapons.
Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi said in an interview in the Daytona Beach News-Journal,“We’re making it easy for the criminals. I have a concern — a huge concern over that.”
Mary Salter, ATF Tampa Field Division public information officer, believes some criminals are purchasing non-serialized and therefore untraceable firearms because their intent is to commit crimes.
“ATF, and law enforcement, in general is seeing homemade firearms without serial numbers at crime scenes,” Salter said. “Tracing firearms found at crime scenes to the original purchaser is a valuable tool in law enforcement,” Salter added. “When a homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, investigators are left with a dead end, where a trace of a firearm may generate valuable investigative leads.”
“With advancements in technology in regards to 3D printers,” Salter said, “CNC milling machines, and the availability of receiver blanks, it has become much easier for a person to build a firearm. “When a “homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, it means investigators are virtually left with a dead end,” said Salter.
And in California, Graham Barlowe, resident agent in charge at the ATF’s Sacramento Field Office, said he started seeing crimes involving untraceable guns about two years ago. In November of this year, Barlowe’s undercover agents arrested eight men for manufacturing and selling illegal firearms, seizing about 90 un-serialized firearms out of the more than 230 illegal firearms found. His agents have also found electronic mills that carve a complete receiver in 12 minutes.
“It is one of the biggest problems in Northern California for our office, if not the biggest problem,” Barlowe says. He estimates that his office has seized about 500 un-serialized receivers since 2013.
The Santa Monica shooter, John Zawahri, used a rifle made from parts he purchased online to kill himself and five others on June 7, 2013.
And in neighboring Arizona, between 2009 to 2011, ATF reported that it seized 191 of the 80 percent receivers in Tucson that were headed to Mexico to be assembled, possibly by cartels.
In Florida, law enforcement officials claim the unregistered guns can make it easy for criminals to arm themselves with untraceable weapons.
However, others disagree with that assessment, claiming the skill and equipment necessary to build the firearms is anything but easy and, therefore, makes this approach more costly and time-consuming than simply acquiring an already completed firearm. A milling machine (or at least a milling guide kit), for example, can cost around $1,500, and it could take weeks to complete an AR-15 kit.
And to complete an unfinished lower receiver, a person must carefully mill or drill out a portion of the inside of the receiver, which can take many painstaking hours. Without a properly milled lower received, a functioning firearm would be impossible to produce.
Many believe manufacturing a homemade weapon is generally too costly, too troublesome, and too expensive for criminals.
Furthermore, FBI statistics indicate semi-automatic weapons are used in less than one percent of crimes in the U.S. Most criminals use handguns, and most guns used in crimes are stolen. Criminals looking to buy a weapon can get them from private sales without a background check and do not have to go through the trouble and expense of building their own rifle.
Rob Dunaway, President of American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Arizona, says most of the customers who buy the incomplete receivers are people who like to personalize their semi-automatic rifle and or more worried about changes to the gun laws.
“Some people buy them to store them for potential future use,” Dunaway said.
Previous attempts to regulate “ghost guns” in California failed, when a bill that would have allowed the manufacture or assembly of homemade weapons but required the makers to first apply to the state Department of Justice for a serial number that would be given only after the applicants underwent a background check, was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014.
However, earlier this year, Gov. Brown did sign a bill requiring people who build guns from these 80% receivers to register them and get a serial number. That law takes full effect in 2019. — by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog
Do you believe “ghost guns” or the 80 percent receivers pose a serious problem? Should you have to undergo a background check to even buy an 80 percent receiver or kit before you are allowed to build your own firearm for your own personal use? Should you have to register a firearm you build yourself and obtain a serial number? Let us know what you think.