SHUTTING DOWN THE ATF – AT LEAST IN THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
Well it looks like shutting down the ATF is happening, at least in the Fifth Circuit. Over the last several months we have seen the Judges in the Fifth Circuit taking the ATF to the woodshed. Over at Bearing Arms, author Cam Edwards is calling it the Fifth Circuit v. ATF these days. The judges in the Fifth Circuit are calling out the ATF’s recent proposed rule that “…flouts clear statutory text and exceeds the legislatively-imposed limits on agency authority in the name of public policy” in their unanimous agreement on the Frame & Receiver rule. Add to that the the Fifth Circuit’s imposition of a nationwide injunction against the Stabilizing Brace rule, and the shutting down of the Bump Stock rule, clearly the Fifth Circuit has gone to war against the overreaching ATF. The Bearing Arms article cited above by Cam Edwards includes the following observation:
“How do we know when an agency has exceeded its statutory authority? Simple: the plain language of the statute tells us so. Therefore, “[w]e start, as we always do, with the text.” … Here, we read the words of the GCA “in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.” Only where the statutory text shows that ATF has “clear congressional authorization” to enact a regulation can such a regulation withstand judicial scrutiny. As explained below, we hold that ATF lacked congressional authorization to promulgate the two challenged portions of the Final Rule.
The GCA includes as a “firearm” the “frame or receiver” of a weapon. 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3)(C). The GCA itself does not define the term “frame or receiver.” The Final Rule, however, newly defines the term “frame or receiver” to include “a partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional frame or receiver, including a frame or receiver parts kit, that is designed to or may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted to function as a frame or receiver.”
Because Congress did not define “frame or receiver” in the GCA, the ordinary meaning of the words control. Both a “frame” and a “receiver” had set, well-known definitions at the time of the enactment of the GCA in 1968. In 1971, Webster’s Dictionary defined a “frame” as “the basic unit of a handgun which serves as a mounting for the barrel and operating parts of the arm” and a “receiver” as “the metal frame in which the action of a firearm is fitted and which the breech end of the barrel is attached.” ration of the definition before the Final Rule’s proposed change—defined “frame or receiver” as “[t]hat part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward position to receive the barrel.” As is apparent from a comparison of the dictionary definitions and the regulatory definition, ATF’s previous understanding of “frame or receiver” closely tracked the public’s common understanding of such terms at the time of enactment.”
Clarity vs. Ambiguity
One of the long-standing bulwarks of freedom is clear, concise, and easily understood laws; the dangerous quack anti-gunners among us don’t want that. They want ambiguous laws that are open to reinterpretation at their whim so they can prosecute their political opponents anytime they want. Think of the times you have heard them describing our Constitution as a “living document” as opposed to “set in stone”.
Despite the Biden Administration’s attempts to stop everyday Americans from having the means to defend themselves, please be Ready at All Times. The future of freedom in the world depends on every one of us.
I look forward to meeting each and every one of you at IFC 2A Day the morning of January 18, 2024, and hopefully you can join us for the IFC PAC Dinner that Evening.
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Shoot Straight, Speak The Truth, and Never Surrender Our Liberties.