The following commentary by Steve MacDonald has been republished with permission from GraniteGrok.
On Monday, Hollis Grok contributor Aaron Penkacik sent a shot across our bow about a new ATF rule that turns millions of law-abiding Americans into felons overnight. But it’s worse than that. Trying to comply with the rule is a trap.
As a refresher:
What the new rule demands are that anyone who owns a large format pistol equipped with a stabilizing pistol brace must register it with the ATF as a short-barreled rifle (SBR), or the short barrel removed and a 16-inch or longer rifle barrel attached to the firearm, or permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached, or the firearm is turned in to your local ATF office, or the firearm is destroyed.
The rule is complex and poorly written but includes a grace period for you to license your firearm under the new rule. You have 120 days after it has been published in the Federal Register, and here’s where the trap comes in.
ATF is now handling all firearms background checks. They are busy. The process for required licensing of a qualifying firearm prior to the writing of the new rule could take a lot longer than 120 days. Adding millions of new requests in the days after they publish the rule means it will take longer. Years?
Filing requires you to provide the ATF with your name, address, and all sorts of stuff, including fingerprints.
Any request that goes unapproved for 88 days is automatically declined. At that point, the ATF’s default response is to engage in an enforcement action against you, and you’ve sent them all the information they need to find you, arrest you, and confiscate your property, because you tried to comply with their rule.
The violation is a felony; up to 10 years in prison and 250,000 dollars in fines. And this is the ATF, so hide your dog (you can’t hide the gun you already told them you have).
If you want to watch it explained, I’ve included a video below with a lawyer for Gun Owners of America.
Last year, New Hampshire passed HB1178, which prohibits any state agent or agency from enforcing this sort of thing, but a provision in the law permits cooperation, and there’s nothing I see about stopping them — leaving us to wonder what the State will do.
We hope that any number of lawsuits will stall publication in the national register or prevent them from starting the 120-day clock. That the courts will tie it up and eventually toss it.
We want to hope that the justice apparatus in the Live Free or Die State would defend its citizens from arbitrary prosecution, given both the rule itself and the trap set by the ATF in the new rule.
There are no guarantees, and it is best to assume you’ve got no backup from law enforcement or the AG.
So, have any NH gun groups or 2A advocates mailed, emailed, or filed anything with anyone at the State or federal level about this pernicious rule change?
And what do you do if you have a firearm that fits the ATF’s new criteria and needs to be licensed?
Here is a link to the ATF rule change.