OSD 90: Weaponized ATFism

If you want a picture of the future, imagine an alphabet boi shooting a tannerite-stuffed dog — forever.

A while ago, we sent some thoughts to the current presidential administration answering the question, “What can we singlehandedly deliver for gun rights?” Here’s the list we sent them:

  • Redefine “armor-piercing ammo” to re-allow previously banned ammo types

  • Redefine 922(r) out of existence

  • Repeal Bush 41’s assault weapon import ban

  • Bring back kitchen table FFLs, and make a new internet-sales FFL (this is in the 2017 ATF white paper)

  • Repeal the photos and fingerprints parts of ATF Rule 41F (an Obama-era rule change), so that trusts don’t need photos and fingerprints for their members. (Careful here: Rule 41F also changed “you need CLEO approval” to “you just need to notify your CLEO, but they can’t stop you” — that was a very important positive change that we should keep.)

  • Expansive allowance for pistol braces. Basically make it official that anything goes.

  • Grant a blanket “lawful purposes” exemption for gun possession to all people in the country on nonimmigrant visas (tourists, H1Bs, etc.)

  • Machine gun amnesty (Forgotten Weapons’s explanation)

  • Presumptive approvals for Form 1s and Form 4s. They approve it right away, and then can claw it back 10 months later or whatever if you get denied. Precedent: this is how NICS checks already work — if you don’t get a yes/no within 3 days, you can take the gun home and then they just claw it back if you eventually get rejected.

  • C&R firearms are defined as any gun more than 50 years old, or any gun that the ATF deems to be a C&R. They could add a massive influx of modern guns to the C&R list. Basically all the cool ‘70s–‘90s guns. There’s no reason the Steyr AUG and MP5 and FAL and the like shouldn’t be considered classics. Hell, AKs too.

Now, zero of those things were acted on in four years, but that’s not why we bring it up. We bring it up because of what this list says about the ATF. Our list was about all the things the ATF should do. But the deeper issue is what the ATF can do.

Enter bump stocks, declared by the ATF to be machine guns despite clearly not meeting the legal definition of a machine gun. But that incorrectness doesn’t matter because the ATF is the one with the pen, so go ahead and sue them and maybe in a few years a judge on a circuit court will write a good dissent about how you should have won.

The one good thing about the bump stock episode was the very same incoherence that made it so absurd. It wasn’t the result of any grand strategy, it was more just an executive branch cobbling together an idea that would hold water for a day or two until the news cycle moved on.

Over the next four years, the thing to gameplan is “What if the ATF did have a grand strategy — and what if that strategy was aimed at using the ATF’s rule-making powers to maximally constrain gun rights?” In other words: what would a competently weaponized ATF do? It would come up with the inverse of our list.

If you squint at that, you can already see what the flashpoints of the next few years are going to be. That’s troubling, but here’s the thing: you can already see what the flashpoints are going to be. That’s an advantage. And gun people know the details of gun stuff far better than gun control orgs do. So use that knowledge, spread it, and keep building the community. This has been the biggest year ever for new gun owners. They might think that gun rights are in a good spot right now. Let’s tell every one of them about all the room that gun rights still have to grow.

This week’s links

This American Life on the wave of new gun owners this year

“The statistics on first time gun ownership are higher than ever in America. Producer Lilly Sullivan wants to know: What inspired people to buy a gun right now? What are people afraid of?”

Our own Chuck Rossi will be on a livestream this Wednesday with the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus

Live at 7 p.m. central time. It’ll be host Sarah Cade Hauptman speaking with Chuck and 1-2 other panelists. Mark your calendar.

T.REX ARMS with a hands-on review of GPNVG-18 quad-tube night vision

Casually drives truck 50 mph down a dirt road at night in pitch black.

“‘Self-Defense Is Self-Care’: How the Growing Ranks of Left-Wing Gun Owners See the Election”

Gun-loving libs are not, to paraphrase Barack Obama, clinging to their guns as a way to express their frustration with being left behind by globalization or whatever. For Randy Miyan, the executive director of Liberal Gun Owners, gun ownership feels like an essential part of the human experience. He gets frustrated with the Democratic Party’s aversion to guns because, he says, it’s ahistorical. “Liberals and leftists treat the 1960s as year zero,” he told me. “We have had a specialized relationship with specialized projectile weapons for 73,000 years. They’re archaeologically normative.”

Larry Vickers reviewing a minty 1969 Colt M16A1

A quick summary of the key features. If you like that and want to go deeper, check out Chris Bartocci of Small Arms Solutions.

OSD Office Hours

If you’re a new gun owner, thinking about becoming one, or know someone who is, click here to come to OSD Office Hours. It’s a free 30-minute video call with an OSD team member to ask any and all your questions.

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