80 Percent Arms   |   May 7th 2021

Several weeks after Joe Biden called on the Justice Department to crack down on 80%'s, the Department of Justice just released a proposed rule that would require the ATF to expand the definition of a firearm. 

This proposal aims to provide new definitions of a firearm frame or receiver resulting in a requirement to add serial numbers on upper receivers as well as any frame that deemed 'readily convertible' by the ATF. Also under this proposed rule, retailers would be required to run background checks on customers before selling any 80% lower receiver or build kit.  

Here's a quick break down on what this proposed rule would do:

  • Provide new definitions of “firearm frame or receiver” and “frame or receiver”
  • Amend the definition of:
  • “firearm” to clarify when a firearm parts kit is considered a “firearm,” and
  • “gunsmith” to clarify the meaning of that term and to explain that gunsmiths may be licensed solely to mark firearms for unlicensed persons.
  • Provide definitions for:
  • “complete weapon,”
  • “complete muffler or silencer device,”
  • “privately made firearm (PMF),” and
  • “readily” for purposes of clarity given advancements in firearms technology.
  • Provide a definition of “importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number”
  • Provide a deadline for marking firearms manufactured.
  • Clarify marking requirements for firearm mufflers and silencers.
  • Amend the format for records of manufacture/acquisition and disposition by manufacturers and importers.
  • Amend the time period records must be retained at the licensed premises.

Under the proposed rule, a “frame or receiver” is any externally visible housing or holding structure for one or more fire control components. A “fire control component” is one necessary for the firearm to initiate, complete, or continue the firing sequence, including, but not limited to, any of the following: hammer, bolt, bolt carrier, breechblock, cylinder, trigger mechanism, firing pin, striker, or slide rails. Any firearm part falling within the new definition that is identified with a serial number must be presumed, absent an official determination by ATF or other reliable evidence to the contrary, to be a frame or receiver.

More than one externally visible part may house or hold a fire control component on a particular firearm, such as with a split or modular frame or receiver. Under these circumstances, ATF may determine whether a specific part or parts of the weapon is the frame or receiver, which may include an internal frame or chassis at least partially exposed to the exterior to allow identification.

The proposed rule maintains current classifications and marking requirements of firearm frames or receivers, except that licensed manufacturers and importers must mark on new designs or configurations either: their name (or recognized abbreviation), and city and state (or recognized abbreviation) where they maintain their place of business; or their name (or recognized abbreviation) and their abbreviated FFL number, on each part defined as a frame or receiver, along with the serial number. Also, the proposed rule includes examples of types and models firearms and identifies the frame or receiver. Most examples include an illustration identifying the frame or receiver. It also explains when a partially complete, disassembled, or inoperable frame or receiver is considered a “frame or receiver”, and explains that a destroyed frame or receiver is not considered a “frame or receiver”.

According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “Criminals and others barred from owning a gun should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement. This proposed rule would help keep guns out of the wrong hands and make it easier for law enforcement to trace guns used to commit violent crimes, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans."

The public has just 90 days to share their thoughts on this proposed rule. You can read the official proposed rule here: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/definiti...