Friday, June 11, 2010

Why did ATF suddenly redefine firearm transfers?

Why did ATF suddenly redefine firearm transfers?

David Codrea writes in the "Gun Rights" section of The Examiner that the ATF has suddenly, inexplicably, changed the definition of "Transfer" in regards to changing the physical possession of a firearm from one person to another.

Previously, if you "transfer" a firearm, it changes ownership.

Now, it is not necessary to give or sell a firearm to another person or 'entity', it is enough to let them have it.

Which means, for example, if you send your firearm to a gunsmith to work on it, you may have to complete all of the same paperwork as you would if you were selling it to the gunsmith.

And that applies to ANY other person. A gunsmith may not have a "dealer's license", so you would have to ship the firearm to a dealer, and the gunsmith would have to fill out the ATF Form 4473 before he/she could take possession ... not ownership, but simple possession ... of it.

Please note that this is not a bill in the legislature; Congressional oversight is not a factor. This is an administrative ruling ... by people that you did not get to vote for.

Jim Shepherd has a very nice write-up on this situation with a couple of embedded links to the applicable legal documents, on The Shooting Wire. Since I cannot link to it, I will add his two-cents worth by a full, direct quote:

Transfers, Paperwork and Questions


The ATF has very quietly reversed a forty-plus year interpretation of the Gun Control Act. Under the "new" interpretation, any shipment of a firearm by a manufacturer to any agent or business (that includes engineering/design firms, lawyers, testing labs, gun writers or whatever) for a bona fide business purpose to be a "transfer" under the Gun Control Act of 1968.

What that means is the amount of paperwork, red tape and potential for inadvertent ATF violations has been increased - exponentially.

Say, for instance, a gun company wants testing done at an independent lab. Under the "new" interpretation, the test gun must be transferred using a form 4473 and a NICS check as if it were a firearm being sold at retail. If the test facility does not hold a FFL, the gun must be transferred to a nearby dealer, local laws complied with, and the dealer now becomes responsible for tracking the firearm on his records. If the test facility is located in one of several locales that are decidedly firearms - unfriendly- then there are the inevitable delays.

Under this ruling, it might become easier for a registered company agent to actually take the firearm to the test facility and wait while the testing is done.

If there were any history of abuse in the longstanding process, modification might seem more reasonable and less capricious. However, the National Shooting Sports Foundation says the ATF has been unable to provide a single instance during the past four decades where a single firearm shipped in reliance on the ATF's rulings was used in a crime.

ATF officials admit it's a radical change. The longstanding interpretation of what is not a "transfer" under the Gun Control Act of 1968 was first made in a 1969 ruling ("Shipment or Delivery of Firearms By Licensees to Employees, Agents, Representatives, Writers and Evaluators.") It was upheld - and further clarified - again in 1972.

The bottom line...the ATF now says those long-standing rulings were wrong. Taking 42 years to decide that seems a little excessive, even for a federal bureaucrat. The NSSF has suggested that ATF "appears" to be under the impression that the Brady Act of 1993 changed what constitutes "transfers".

It is appropriate to use "appears" in that instance because the ATF admits that neither the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the 1993 Brady Act defines "transfer".

So why the change after forty years? Seems no one except the suits at the ATF can answer that question - and Deputy Director Kenneth E. Melson, the man who authored the ruling, is not talking.

You can read the ruling for yourself at

In a separate ruling issued Friday, the ATF has initiated a ruling that says ATF headquarters has oversight of all administrative actions prior to notices being sent to the licensee. In effect, this ruling establishes the final approval authority of denial of applications for licenses, suspensions, revocations of licenses or imposition of civil fines.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) Senior Vice President, Assistant Secretary & General Counsel, Larry Keane says, "NSSF supports that all cases where revocation is recommended by the field must be cleared by ATF headquarters prior to issuance of notice to FFL. This will promote consistency of interpretation of the law and regulations."

You can read that ruling at:

More happening out there, and we'll keep you posted.

--Jim Shepherd

GO to the links, see what the rulings (again, not "laws") look like, and you can make up your own mind about how happy you are that unelected administrators can so blithly trounce upon your second amendment rights to Keep and Bear Arms.

OH, and the election promise by Obama that he "would not take your guns away from you"?

Witness Step Number One of the very convoluted procedure by which Obama is going to ... if not do that precise thing immediately ... make it extremely difficult for you to keep your firearms, and for any service industry to support your ownership.

I ... am ... so ... pissed!

I'm so pissed off, angry and (unreasonably ... we knew he was a politician and therefore a lying S.O.B.) disappointed that I'm not even going to rant about this.

Not right now, anyway.

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