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ATF Uses “Secret Rulemaking” to Try to Incriminate Hundreds of Gun Owners

Published in Blog on March 18, 2022 by Mark Meckler

What’s the only thing worse than illogical and useless gun control laws? Illogical and useless gun control laws imposed unilaterally by D.C. bureaucrats.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent emails on March 3 to every American who had recently submitted a “Form 1” application to build a suppressor. Suppressors are heavily regulated under the National Firearms Act, and in order to make one, you need the say-so of the federal government.

Usually, this process is simple and only requires paying for a $200 tax stamp and submitting a Form 1. But not anymore. In its emails to gun owners, the ATF demanded to see photographs of “the parts that you will use to make the silencer” along with “a description of the processes you will use to assemble or fabricate the silencer.”

As the American Suppressor Association explained, the ATF has decided to go after suppressor makers who use “solvent trap kits.”

“Despite previously approving thousands of Form 1 applications for individuals and legal entities that have used these kits in recent years, it seems ATF has now decided to change course without any public explanation or justification,” the ASA explained. “What is clear is that ATF has unilaterally decided that the National Firearms Act (NFA) applies to these kits, and therefore any applicant applying to make a suppressor using one might be guilty of a crime.”

Solvent traps are common gun cleaning devices used to capture cleaning solvent. They’re screwed onto the end of a barrel, so their shape and design have naturally prompted solvent trap owners to convert them into suppressors.

In the past, this has been perfectly legal. Now, apparently, the ATF has used a “secret rulemaking” process to outlaw these devices. Needless to say, they haven’t promulgated this new rule via the standard rulemaking process and Congress hasn’t passed any such law.

“This type of behind-closed-door rulemaking has to stop,” the ASA writes. “It’s time to insist that ATF stop treating the upstanding citizens it regulates like criminals. It’s time for ATF rulemaking to occur in the open. And it’s time to remove suppressors from the NFA so that law-abiding Americans can protect their hearing while exercising their Second Amendment rights without tax or fear of government retribution.”

I couldn’t agree more. Federal bureaucrats—especially federal law enforcement bureaucrats—have no authority to make laws. Under the Constitution, only Congress has that authority because only members of Congress represent the will of We the People.

Unfortunately, this kind of secret rulemaking is far too common in D.C. Bureaucrats at federal agencies think they know better than everyday American citizens, and under tyrannical administrations like Joe Biden’s, they believe they have the freedom to do whatever they want.

It’s time to send them a wakeup call they’ll never forget. An Article V Convention of States is called and controlled by the states and has the power to propose constitutional amendments that limit the power, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government.

These amendments can clarify that the Founders never intended the national government to empower federal agencies to control every area of American life. These amendments will effectively reduce the power of all federal agencies and eliminate others altogether.

Who knows? Maybe the ATF will be among those useless and duplicative federal agencies that don’t survive the Convention of States process. On behalf of law-abiding American gun owners, I sure hope so.

Mark Meckler is the President and co-founder of Convention of States Action.

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