Opinion: Trying to comply with ATF’s new ‘short barreled rifle’ rule is a trap

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.

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3 thoughts on “Opinion: Trying to comply with ATF’s new ‘short barreled rifle’ rule is a trap

  1. The BATF was as most of the departments created in the United States are unconstitutional. I don’t see anywhere in Constitution where Congress is given the authority to create them..When one of these agencies or departments are created, they usurp power from the Congress and the People and give it to centralized government.


    Tenth Amendment
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    The 2nd Amendment does not grant us the right to keep and bear arms. The 2nd Amendment denies the government the authority to infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms -Period. THEREFORE, ALL GUN CONTROL UNDER THE CONSTITUTION IS ILLEGAL! Government does not give us our rights. Our rights are not given to us by the Constitution. Our rights are given to us by God and are inherent to us as human beings and by the Laws of Nature. These rights that we are born with are affirmed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution and specify what the government can and cannot do to us as citizens of the United States. Government’s only power is the power which is enumerated to it by the Constitution. The federal government, a state, county or town cannot pass a law contrary to the Constitution. Article 6 the Supremacy Clause makes the Constitution the supreme law of the land. Under our Constitution the government is not delegated the authority to legislate, enforce, or adjudicate laws pertaining to the exercise of our rights under the Constitution. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to require the government’s permission to exercise any right affirmed to us under the Constitution. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be secure from unwarranted interrogation, search, or seizure in the absence of probable cause of criminal conduct. Or compel us to waive our guaranteed 5th Amendment right to due process as a precondition to being allowed (or denied) the exercise of our right to keep and bear arms. This violation of our 4th and 5th Amendment rights happens every time that we are interrogated under penalty of perjury without probable cause that a crime has been committed when we fill out B.A.T.F.E form 4473 to purchase a firearm. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our 10th Amendment right to a federal government exercising only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution, and State governments are prohibited the exercise of any power prohibited to the States by the United States Constitution.
    The government is not delegated the authority under the 14th Amendment to make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Government is not delegated by our Constitution the authority to license firearm dealers or operate or fund the most powerful anti-rights government agency on the planet called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Since no Amendment in the Bill of Rights has been repealed thru Article V or by a National Convention of States, the only legal way to change the Constitution, all existing gun control laws presently violate five Amendments of the Bill of Rights and goes against the settled law of two Supreme Court decisions, Heller vs the District of Columbia 2008 and McDonald vs Chicago 2010. Both decisions affirm that the people’s right to keep and bear arms is an individual right and that citizens are allowed firearms in common use, those small arms or those that operate like them and are issued to our National Guard which comprises of citizen soldiers.

    The purpose of compelled background checks as a precondition to allowing or denying the transfer of a firearm is to deceive firearm owners and prospective owners into unknowingly waiving their rights guaranteed by the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 14th Amendments so they will have no rights left to claim when the government decides to register and confiscate our firearms. We have a right to keep and bear arms, not a privilege to keep and bear arms. Our rights are beyond the reach of the government and no citizen has to ask government permission to exercise a right. Government has no authority delegated to it by the Constitution to deceive its citizens into waiving their rights or acquiescing to the loss of their rights by subterfuge, scam, fraud, or force. DO NOT VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS!


    6 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256:
    The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The US. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be in agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail. This is succinctly stated as follows:
    The General rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose, since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted. Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it.… A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the lend, it is superseded thereby. No one Is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. The Supreme Court’s decision is as follows; “An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it has never been passed”. Norton vs Shelby County 1886 – 118 US 425 p.442.

  3. Never comply with being on a Federal gun list, it’s a unlawful demand that violates your 2nd amendment rights of the Government to NOT infringe on your right to be armed against said Government.There are no specifics listed in the constitution because there is NO restriction on guns you can own.

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