On the face of it, the ATF’s decision to withdraw their Request for Comment on “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’” is a win for the gun rights community. We organized, we submitted 67,401 comments (at last count), we got buy in from both the House and Senate, we made ourselves heard, and ATF backed down.
However, the more I think about it, the more I’m wondering if it wasn’t a feint by ATF to scope out the opposition.
I am reminded of this dialog from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story Silver Blaze. It is also known as The Case of the Dog That Didn’t Bark.
“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
In this case, the dog was the gun control industry.
Did Giffords issue a call for comments? No. They are instead asking you to contribute to both Warnock and Ossoff to flip the Senate.
Did Shannon Watts tweet about it? No. She seems more worried that President Trump is going to pardon the Tiger King guy.
In every case, there was absolutely nothing sent out or issued by any of these gun prohibitionists.
Do I think that Acting Director Regina Lombardo and Deputy Director Marvin Richardson would like to make pistols braces come under the regulations of the National Firearms Act? Hell, yes, I think they want that.
Could Lombardo and Richardson be Machiavellian enough to float the Request for Comment as a trial balloon or as way to distract the gun culture from other things?
Let’s look at the evidence.
Lombardo is a 29-year veteran of BATFE. According to her LinkedIn profile, she started as a Special Agent, spent over 7 years as an Attache’ for the ATF in Canada, and then had progressively higher promotion. She certainly has the bureaucratic chops needed.
What about Marvin Richardson? He has put up less about his career in his LinkedIn profile. Nonetheless, we know he has moved up from a Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Field Division to the number two position at ATF over the last 10 years. More importantly, he got promoted after he was found to have lied to the Office of Inspector General’s Office of Special Counsel. In bureaucratic speak, in an interview by OIG inspectors, he was found to have answered questions with “less than candor.” (OIG Investigation number OSC file number D1-07-0367). Nonetheless, despite what should have been a terminating offense, he was appointed as Chief of the ATF’s Professional Review Board and then to SAC in Denver. He knows how to survive and prosper in the wilds of bureaucracy. We also know he will lie when it suits his purpose.
I think the answer is yes, they are Machiavellian enough.
Both Lombardo and Richardson want to curry favor with the incoming Biden Administration. The Trace has already suggested that they go after pistol braces by reclassifying them. Moreover, both Lombardo and Richardson have prospered in what traditionally has been a white male led agency. They didn’t get to where they are by not playing the game very astutely.
So whether this was a trial balloon or a diversionary tactic, I think it served the purposes of Lombardo and Richardson. While we might not know their actual motivation or ultimate goals, we do know that somewhere, sometime, somehow they are going to come after us again. We should never forget that.