Some People Will Believe Anything!

March for Our Lives, the children’s crusade against firearms, has just shown their gullibility and ignorance. If it involves guns, they will believe anything an anti-gun politician spews out.

They have retweeted an absolute lie told by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D-PA). He wants people to have the impression that it was the National Rifle Association that sued him after his autocratic redefinition of what constitutes a firearm. Shapiro knew that throwing the name “NRA”, the term “ghost guns”, and tying it into crime was red meat for your average ignorant anti-gunner.

Look at the first page of the application for an emergency preliminary injunction. That action is being brought by a Pennsylvania FFL, a New Hampshire FFL, a manufacturer and dealer in what are called 80% lowers, and the Firearms Policy Coalition. No where do you see that the NRA is involved in this case. Indeed, if you had attended the Meeting of Members at the 2019 NRA Annual Meeting, you know that that old guard had nothing but disdain for attorneys Josh Prince and Adam Kraut. Don’t forget that Marion Hammer has called Adam “the enemy within”.

Shapiro sent out his original tweet the day after the application was filed. He knew or should have known that the NRA had nothing to do with this case.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has consistently held that unfinished forgings or castings that are “completely solid and un-machined in the fire-control recess area” are not firearms and not subject to the Gun Control Act of 1968. See the attached determinations beginning on page 67 of the application for an injunction. Moreover, BATFE doesn’t even use the term “80% lower” or “80% frame” which is more of a marketing term than anything else.

As Josh Prince notes in his law firm blog, only the Pennsylvania General Assembly has the power to write law and it cannot be delegated. In other words, Shapiro’s “legal opinion” is making law and therefore invalid.

With regard to Shapiro’s claim that he is being sued by “companies that fund the @NRA”, only Polymer 80 exhibited at the most recent NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Having a booth at a national show which attracts thousands of gun owners is smart business for Polymer 80. While the NRA does gain some marginal revenue, “funding the NRA” is not Polymer 80’s purpose in being there. Just like we are all the “gun lobby”, so, too, we are all “funding the NRA” through our memberships.

Politicians and their PR flacks will say anything to push their position. Sometimes it is true. More often it is either the shading of the truth or an outright lie. I’ll let you decide what Shapiro was trying to do with his tweet.

March for Our Lives’ tweet, on the other hand, is a demonstrable lie. Like naughty children, they should be sent to their room with no TV, no phone, and no Internet to think about the consequences of their lie.

Bumpstock Ban, Part III (Updated)

Attorneys Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut have filed suit today in US District Court for the District of Columbia today on behalf of Damien Guedes, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Firearms Policy Foundation, and the Madison Foundation. The lawsuit seeks an injunction as well as challenges the legal authority of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to issue such a rule when he has not been confirmed by the Senate.

From the plaintiffs release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 18, 2018) — Today, attorneys for an owner of a “bump-stock” device and three constitutional rights advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s new confiscatory ban on firearm parts, additionally challenging Matthew Whitaker’s legal authority to serve as Acting Attorney General and issue rules without being nominated to the role and confirmed by the Senate or by operation of law. A copy of the court filings can be viewed at www.bumpstockcase.com.

The plaintiffs also filed a motion seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the Trump Administration from implementing and enforcing the new regulation. The lawsuit, captioned as Guedes, et al. v. BATFE, et al., is backed by Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and Madison Society Foundation (MSF), also institutional plaintiffs in the case.

“Bump-stocks” were legal under federal law and prior determinations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives until the agency issued a new final rulemaking today. Under the new rule, owners of the devices have just 90 days to surrender or destroy their property, after which they could face federal ‘machinegun’ charges that carry up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each violation.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut of Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C. Prince and Kraut previously filed a nearly 1,000-page formal opposition to the proposed regulation, which included a video exhibit showing the actual operation of a “bump-stock” device on an AR-15 type firearm. That opposition and its 35 exhibits can be viewed at www.bit.ly/fpc-bumpstock-reg-opposition.

“The ATF has misled the public about bump-stock devices,” Prince said. “Worse, they are actively attempting to make felons out of people who relied on their legal opinions to lawfully acquire and possess devices the government unilaterally, unconstitutionally, and improperly decided to reclassify as ‘machineguns’. We are optimistic that the court will act swiftly to protect the rights and property of Americans who own these devices, and once the matter has been fully briefed and considered by the court, that the regulation will be struck down permanently.”

In a January statement, Firearms Policy Coalition said that the federal “DOJ and BATFE clearly lack the statutory authority to re-define the targeted devices as ‘machineguns.’” Following that, in February, FPC also commented that as they “opposed the lawless manner in which President Obama often ruled by ‘pen-and-a-phone’ executive fiat,” they objected to and would fight “President Trump’s outrageous lawlessness here.”

“In its rulemaking, the Trump Administration is attempting to abuse the system, ignore the statutes passed by the Congress, and thumb its nose at the Constitution without regard to the liberty and property rights of Americans. That is unacceptable and dangerous,” explained Adam Kraut, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “It is beyond comprehension that the government would seek establish a precedent that it can arbitrarily redefine terms and subject thousands of people to serious criminal liability and the loss of property.”

Anyone who owns a “bump-stock” device and who would like to consider participating in the case should contact the FPC/FPF Legal Action Hotline at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline or (855) 252-4510 (available 24/7/365) as soon as possible.

Count One of the lawsuit refers to Whitaker  as “purported Acting Attorney General” and challenges his authority to issue the final rule. They refer to 28 U.S.C. § 508(a) which states that the Deputy Attorney General shall exercise the duties of the office of Attorney General in case of a vacancy. Given this, they argue that Whitaker cannot “lawfully perform the duties and
responsibilities of Attorney General, including the execution on December 18, 2018 and
implementation of the Final Rule.” I think even the Democrats might agree with this.

Count Two of the lawsuit alleges violations of the Adminstrative Procedures Act. Specifically, it accuses BATFE of a) failing to provide records as requested with regard to Proposed Rule; b) failure to provide a 90-day comment period as there were website issues; c) failed to consider cost impact and ignored any analysis on compensating bumpstock owners for a taking; d) failed to provide a hearing when requested; and e) issued a rule that is arbitrary and capricious which is a violation of the APA.

Count Three alleges that the final rule exceeds the legal authority of BATFE because it rewrites clear statutory terms to suit itself. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein herself has said that BATFE lacks the clear legal authority to ban bumpstocks. Now, of course, she wants Congress to do it but that would be legal.

Count Four says the final rule violates the Internal Revenue Code. Since NFA items are taxed, this is why this comes into play.

26 U.S.C. § 7805(b) provides that “no temporary, proposed, or final regulation relating to
the internal revenue laws shall apply to any taxable period ending before … [¶ … ¶] [t]he
date on which any notice substantially describing the expected contents of any temporary,
proposed, or final regulation is issued to the public.”

Thus, any rule against any bump fire stock manufactured before March 29, 2018 could not be enforced on them.

Count Five goes to the fact that the Final Rule bans bump fire stocks and says no compensation need be given. This the suit alleges violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Count Six alleges an Ex Post Facto violation as bump fire stocks were previously classified by the BATFE to be legal. Changing the law after the fact would seem to violate Article I, Section 9, Clause 3 of the U.S Constitution.

Count Seven alleges that the Final Rule violates the Contract Clause of Article 1 of the Constitution by destroying the value of investments that had been made consistent with previous BATFE rulings and classifications of bump fire stocks.

Count Eight is the final count. It accuses BATFE of violation of the Freedom of Information Act for failing to provide records that were properly requested by the Firearms Policy Foundation months ago.

The prayer for relief seeks both a preliminary and permanent injunction against the enforcement of the Final Rule, a declaration that Matthew Whitaker did not have the legal authority to issue the Final Rule which makes it null and void, and for declarations that the aforementioned violations are Constitutionally impermissible.

The full 37-page complaint is here.

UPDATE:  The Guedes case had some changes today. First, the Firearms Policy Coalition dropped out of the lawsuit in order to file a separate lawsuit on procedural grounds. More on that lawsuit in a separate post but the intent is to have one lawsuit argued on the merits of the case – Guedes – and a second lawsuit challenging the Final Rule on the grounds it was issued by someone who didn’t have the authority to do so.

Second, in their amended complaint, the plaintiffs added Missouri St. Representative Shane Roden (R-Franklin County) and Florida Carry. Moreover, it dropped Count One (see above) which challenges the authority of the purported Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to issue the rule. That will now be moved to a separate case involving only the Firearms Policy Coalition.

The goal in separating the issues is to have one case that will move quickly on procedural issues – FPC v. Whitaker – and a second case that move at the speed that it moves on the merits of the case. The challenge on procedural issues is an effort to stay the case in the short term.

And In Your Morning News From The DOJ…

The Beltway method of releasing news that you don’t want to get a lot of attention is to release it on a Friday afternoon. I’m guessing the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking it a step further with this release regarding bump fire stocks.

From the DOJ:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Department of Justice Submits Notice of Proposed Regulation Banning Bump Stocks

Today the Department of Justice submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the definition of “machinegun” in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act includes bump stock type devices, and that federal law accordingly prohibits the possession, sale, or manufacture of such devices.

“President Trump is absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of every American and he has directed us to propose a regulation addressing bump stocks,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “To that end, the Department of Justice has submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the National Firearms and Gun Control Act defines ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock type devices.”

This submission is a formal requirement of the regulatory review process. Once approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice will seek to publish this notice as expeditiously as possible.

I don’t have a need, want, desire, or love for bump fire stocks. I do, however, believe in the rule of law. 26 USC Chapter 53 § 5845 (b) defines a machinegun as:

Machinegun. The term ‘machinegun’ means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can
be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single
function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part
designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in
converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be
assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

Arbitrarily saying that a bump fire stock is the same as a machinegun flies in the face of both the black letter law and in the face of numerous BATFE regulatory rulings. It makes a mockery of the rule of law and should be condemned as such. If the DOJ and the Trump Administration want to ban bump fire stocks, they should, as I suggested in my own comment on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, submit a bill to Congress to add them to the NFA and GCA 68.

In the meantime, I plan to send a few buck to the Firearms Policy Coalition as they have already hired attorneys Adam Kraut and Joshua Prince to submit their comments and fight this in court. By the way, donations to fight this are tax-deductible.

Firearms Policy Coalition Is Preparing For Litigation On Bump Stocks

President Donald Trump, the black letter law notwithstanding, told the nation’s governors on Monday that he is “writing out” bump fire stocks.

“Bump stocks, we are writing that out. I am writing that out,” he said, addressing a group of state governors at the White House. “I don’t care if Congress does it or not, I’m writing it out myself.”

The president’s comments come after the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 students and staff dead. Last week, he directed the Department of Justice to create regulations that ban bump stocks.

Trump also said bump stocks should be put into the same category as certain firearms, making it “tough” to get them.

“You do a rule, have to wait 90 days,” he said. “That’s sort of what’s happening with bump stocks. It’s gone, don’t worry about it. It’s gone, essentially gone, because we are going to make it so tough, you’re not going to be able to get them. Nobody’s going to want them anyway.”

Now yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he thinks the Department of Justice has the legal authority to prohibit bump fire stocks.

“We believe in that, and we have had to deal with previous [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ATF legal opinions, but our top people in the Department of Justice have believed for some time that we can, through regulatory process, not allow the bump stock to convert a weapon from a semi-automatic to a fully automatic,” Sessions told state attorneys general, according to Reuters.

ATF has previously said that it does not have the authority to regulate bump stocks, which increase the firing rate of semi-automatic rifles.

For once, I think BATFE actually got it right when they said they don’t have the authority to regulated bump fire stocks. So does the Firearms Policy Coalition.

They have retained attorneys Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group to submit their response when the rulemaking is announced and to help with any litigation related to the rulemaking. They have promised to go to court if any rule banning bump fire stocks is adopted without any Congressional change in the law.

From their release sent out Monday evening:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 26, 2018) — In a press conference today, President Donald Trump
said
that, “I don’t care of Congress does it or not, I’m writing [so-called
‘bump stocks’] out myself.” In response to these troubling statements,
constitutional rights advocacy organizations
Firearms
Policy Coalition
(FPC) and
Firearms
Policy Foundation

(FPF) have announced that they have retained attorneys Joshua Prince
and Adam Kraut
of the Pennsylvania-based Firearms Industry Consulting
Group, a division of Civil
Rights Defense Firm, P.C., to submit their legal opposition to any
rulemaking and begin preparing for litigation.
 Last month,
FPC
submitted a legal letter of opposition

to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ advanced
noticed of proposed rulemaking on the “Application of the Definition of
Machinegun
to Bump Fire Stocks and Other Similar Devices.” In its comments, FPC
explained that the “DOJ and BATFE clearly lack the statutory authority
to re-define the targeted devices as ‘machineguns’,” and that these
ATF-approved and legally-possessed devices could
not be regulated firearms under the statutes.
 FPC and FPF oppose
restrictions on the acquisition, possession, carry, transportation, and
use of semi-automatic firearms, ammunition, and firearm parts and
accessories by law-abiding people.
 “We will use every resource
and remedy available to us in our ongoing defense of the Constitution,
the rights it protects, and millions of law-abiding American people”
said FPC President Brandon Combs. “While we would
prefer to block any executive action or rulemaking that would ban
currently-legal firearms parts before it becomes law, we would not
hesitate to file a federal lawsuit to protect the rights and legal
personal property of gun owners if that’s what it takes.”
 Those who wish to support
FPC and FPF’s efforts to oppose executive branch gun control and support
legal action a can make tax-deductible donation at
www.defendgunparts.com.
Individuals can become a member of FPC at
www.firearmspolicy.org/join. Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org)
is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit
organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution
of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second
Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
 Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org)
is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to
defend the Constitution
of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities
deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the
inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.
 Firearms Industry Consulting Group
(www.firearmsindustryconsultinggroup.com) represents individuals,
organizations, firearms licensees, and others
located across the United States in all matters relating to firearms
and ATF compliance. FIGG is a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm,
P.C.
 

As an aside, the Adam Kraut mentioned in the release is the same Adam Kraut running for the NRA Board of Directors and the same Adam Kraut I have wholeheartedly endorsed. 

This Should Infuriate Everyone

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a policy of reporting those veterans who require help managing their finances to the FBI’s NICS System. Those reported are placed upon the prohibited persons list and will get a decline if they should try to buy a firearm from a FFL. This program has been going on for awhile and impacts those that have a fiduciary manage their finances.

But what if you are a veteran managing your own finances? How can anyone assume that you are mentally deficient and thus should be denied your Second Amendment rights?


Attorney Joshua Prince is now representing a veteran who does indeed manage his or her own finances but was turned down when he or she tried to purchase a firearm. I’ll let Mr. Prince fill in the blanks. (The highlighting is mine.)

In my client’s situation, he handles all of his own finances. The VA does not dispute this. Rather, when I finally got a representative from the VA on the line, she informed us that the VA, on its own initiative, placed him into “supervised direct payment status”. When I inquired as to what “supervised direct payment status” was, the representative stated that it is where the veteran handles his/her own financial affairs but they “watch the veteran’s financial accounts.” While the VA contended that they sent out a letter about this status being imposed on my client, my client never received such a letter and they acknowledged that it does not mention anything about the loss of the veteran’s Second Amendment rights, but that the VA has been imposing such since 2013.

No due process is provided. The representative acknowledged that my client never received a hearing and that the determination that my client was incompetent was made solely by a VA official reviewing his case. She stated that he could have appealed the determination when he received the original letter, but the time has since past to appeal. Remember, this is the letter that my client never received and which makes no mention of the loss of one’s Second Amendment rights…

While they have reluctantly agreed to send my client copies of the putative letter that they allegedly previously sent, they refused to provide his entire file, even at my request. This is the new Veteran Affairs Administration, folks. We now treat our illegal immigrants with more respect and benefits than our own veterans. This is an absolute disgrace and the VA’s policies and procedures need to be immediately reversed. Of course, we’re all aware that such is unlikely if former Secretary Clinton is elected…

This veteran was put on “double, secret probation”, was not informed of it, and now has one of his or her enumerated rights being denied. Regardless of where you stand on gun rights, this veteran served our country. He or she deserves at the bare minimum the due process of law guaranteed under the Constitution. That they are being denied this due process should infuriate everyone.