Though it has garnered far less attention than the recent ATF determination vs. Q, there is another significant anti-gun effort underway. The California Attorney General has recently filed suit against the ATF, suing the federal government in an attempt to have “unfinished receivers” treated by the same regulations as a completed firearm. In other words, CA wants the ATF to classify 80% lowers and frames the same way they do a finished receiver or frame. If successful, that would require that all 80% lowers, 80% Glocks, etc. (like those made by 80 Percent Arms) be transferred in accordance with federal law — just like a fully functional firearm. No legal difference.
The lawsuit alleges that the ATF is remiss in its duty and is violating the 1968 Gun Control Act by failing to hold ‘lethal do-it-yourself projects’ to the same manufacture and commerce standards as a finished weapon.
Note: cover photo via 80 Percent Arms blog post on this same topic.
Such action is necessary, or so the suit alleges, because “…ghost guns are quickly becoming the weapon of choice for illegal gun traffickers and those — like organized criminal gangs and mass murderers — who seek to bear arms not for lawful means, but rather to engage in criminal activity and acts of violence.”
Word of this lawsuit, which should be of concern to all Second Amendment supporters, has been less than far-reaching. This is probably in large part due to all the other noise and outrage in current news cycles. Talk of the presidential debates, ongoing COVID-19 issues, and of course the ATF’s arbitrary (and decidedly problematic) determination regarding the Q Honey Badger Pistol has all but buried the story.
This is not just a California gun law story. This is a national gun control story. The State of California is attempting to force its opinion upon every other state in the nation.
This suit ought to be on every gun owner’s radar, and so should the California regulations enacted by California Assembly Bill 879 (q.v.). Yes, that is “just another Commiefornia gun law”, but that hardly matters. It could easily affect all of us.
From the lawsuit:
Specifically, Defendants have decided that a specific type of product colloquially called an “80 percent receiver” for long guns or an “80 percent frame” for handguns is not a “firearm” under the GCA. The 80 percent receiver or frame is a nearly finished firearm receiver or frame, although the “80 percent” moniker is an arbitrary term used by sellers that does not in fact connote how much work remains to convert the frame or receiver into an operable firearm. Case 3:20-cv-06761
Not Just California
As the Sacramento Bee and other sources have recently reported, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been joined in its suit against the ATF by the Giffords Law Center and the fathers of two children killed during a high school shooting. Becerra, whose agency has reportedly sued the Feds in one form or the other over a hundred times, said, “These firearms are indistinguishable from the serialized firearms that are regulated under state and federal law. And they’re every bit as lethal. Anyone can make them, anyone can carry them, anyone can fire them.”
And it’s not the only such lawsuit going. Just a couple of months ago several cities (in conjunction with the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund) filed a similar suit in the United States District Court Southern District of New York. Those cities include Syracuse NY, San Jose CA, Chicago IL, and Columbia SC.
Attorneys in that suit say it’s the first of its kind to be filed against the ATF. Maybe the mayor of San Jose isn’t in the Becerra’s loop, or more likely they’re hoping for some redundancy in case one of their efforts doesn’t work. Perhaps they looked at the District of Colombia’s focus on 80 percent lowers and thought they needed to go bigger.
“Given the nature of the problem and the ability to ship these things across state lines, the only truly comprehensive solution has to come at the federal level. . . . With 80 percent lowers, with minimal amounts of work, you can receive a firearm with no serial number and no way to check its origin. The promotional advertising makes it clear this market isn’t for hobbyists.” David Pucino, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Ironically (or not), though these might be the first organized attacks on 80% lowers by a polity, the ATF itself went after unfinished receivers in 2014 when it arrested Joseph Roh of ROHG Industries, though that case was later dropped.
The ATF of course is notoriously inconsistent, even mercurial, frequently arrogating to itself law-making power that by rights should belong to the legislative branch (if at all). In February of this year, the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington field division of the ATF, Ashan Benedict, said, “When it comes to regulation, we’re going to continue looking at the laws, which were made 50 to 60 years ago, to see how they can be applied today.”
In that statement, Benedict is referring to the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) of 1968. It is Title I of United States federal firearms laws. The National Firearms At (NFA) of 1934 is Title II.
Let us be candid for a moment. The age of a particular law is of far less significance than its content. Other laws and cases of roughly the same include the Freedom of Information Act, Katz v. United States, Loving v. Virginia, Afroyim v. Rusk, and the Legislative Reorganization Act.
Do we really think those need to be revisited by an autonomous, non-elected federal law enforcement agency just because of their age?
No. Similarly, the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 shouldn’t be abolished because of its age. It should be abolished because it is unconstitutional (among other things).
If you would like to stay abreast of this and other topics, follow the FPC News.
80 Percent Arms
They’re the ones who originally made me aware of this lawsuit. If you want to support a company struggling against anti-gun laws both nationally and in California, give them some of your business. Don’t want an 80% frame or an 80% lower? Follow ’em on social media. They’re on Instagram at @80percentarms and on Facebook, /80percentarms/. Note that links in this article to 80 Percent Arms are affiliate links, meaning if you buy something from them, we get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Some might think that’s shady. We don’t care. Breach-Bang-Clear is free to read, but it ain’t a charity. Don’t buy from 80PA, buy from someone else, or don’t buy at all. Your call!
Oh, you can find 80 Percent Arms on Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/80-percent-arms-inc/
Scroll down for more background on this lawsuit and related matters as we’re made aware.
OR, if you want to help do battle with this sort of tomfuckery,
California Assembly Bill 879
Earlier we mentioned California Assembly Bill 879. That was an “internal” state measure. Here’s a little more about it, and about what they are now referring to as “firearm precursor parts”.
I imagine one benefit of such a term (to their efforts) is how that phrase echo drug legislation and laws, e.g. “methamphetamine precursor“.
Firearm Precursor Parts
Bear in mind the lawsuit filed by the State of California against the BATFE is not the same as the regulations derived from California Assembly Bill 879. That measure addresses what they call “precursors” and how to regulate them (commencing July 1, 2024).
Hint: it’s an 80 percent lower or frame
A “firearm precursor part” means a component of a firearm that is necessary to build or assemble a firearm and is described in either of the following categories:
(1) An unfinished receiver, including both a single part receiver and a multiple part receiver, such as a receiver in an AR-10- or AR-15-style firearm. An unfinished receiver includes a receiver tube, a molded or shaped polymer frame or receiver, a metallic casting, a metallic forging, and a receiver flat, such as a Kalashnikov-style weapons system, Kalashnikov-style receiver channel, or a Browning-style receiver side plate.
(2) An unfinished handgun frame.
(b) The Department of Justice, consistent with this section, shall provide written guidance and pictorial diagrams demonstrating each category of firearm precursor part specified in subdivision (a).
(c) Firearm parts that can only be used on antique firearms, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 16170, are not firearm precursor parts.
(d) A firearm precursor part is not a firearm or the frame or receiver thereof. A firearm precursor part that is attached or affixed to a firearm is not subject to the requirements of Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 30400) of Division 10 of Title 4 of Part 6 or Section 18010.
Among other things, the enforcement of measures outlined in that bill would make it a misdemeanor :
• to sell or give possession of a firearm precursor part to a person under 21 years of age.
• for a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm to possess a firearm precursor part.
• to provide a firearm precursor part to a person who is prohibited from possessing firearm precursor parts.
• to transfer a firearm precursor part without processing the transaction through a firearm precursor parts vendor.
• to bring a firearm precursor part into the state without first having the part delivered to a licensed firearm precursor part vendor
There will be more to this. Stay tuned to this frequency for further updates.
As before we urge you, if you want to help do battle with this sort of tomfuckery,
Now go forth and conquer.