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SILENCER SATURDAY #156: ATF Rulemaking

Good morning everyone and welcome back to TFB’s Silencer Saturday brought to you by Yankee Hill Machine, manufacturers of the new YHM NITRO N20 lightweight, modular, multi-caliber suppressor. We got an initial look at the NITRO N20 last week and I promise to bring you additional testing in the weeks ahead. This week we need to talk about ATF Rulemaking and the impact it can have on other aspects of NFA regulations. Believe me, I’m tired of writing about near soul-crushing topics and would rather be slinging sone heavy subsonic lead quietly downrange. But unfortunately we have some important business  to discuss – there are unconfirmed reports that solvent trap/Form 1 kit manufacturer Diversified Machine was raided by the ATF.

ATF Rulemaking – From Braces To Silencers: A Diversified Machine “kit” from the original Form 1 series.

SILENCER SATURDAY #156: ATF Rulemaking – From Braces To Silencers

Whether or not you agree with the National Firearms Act or not (I do not), it is the law of the land. And laws in the United States are enacted and repealed by a specific legislative process. So while I’d love to sit around and raise our virtual pitchforks and torches and scream unconstitutional arguments into the night, it is relatively unproductive. There is a process to change laws; outside of those steps, everything else is just mutual masturbation. On the flip side of that argument, if laws and regulations don’t specifically state the elements of what is legal and what is not, agencies should not be able to redefine the boundaries without new laws that have followed the legislative process.

Not that you asked and not that it matters, I don’t agree with the NFA because it restricts otherwise law-abiding people from owning certain firearms and does nothing to actually prevent criminal acts.

Inside the NFA rules and regulations itself are a quagmire of subjective definitions that rely on teams of humans to make determinations on what is or is not a silencer or muffler. Which is systemically unfair –  laws should stand on their own and remain immune from reevaluation as administrations change.

What is a machine gun?

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 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, or; 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. 26 U.S.C. 5845 (b)

Note: Due to the similarity in appearance and general configuration of semiautomatic firearms, a comprehensive examination of the firearm and/or its component parts is required to correctly determine its classification.

An examination is required. On the surface, those four words feel very benign – a representative from the government will give your firearm a test and see if it passes. However, when there is a different person grading every test and there is no official answer key, it makes laws like the NFA unbelievably unfair to Americans who are doing there best to follow them. Case in point, bump stocks. The “single function of the trigger” element of the law appears to have become unimportant.

What is a short barreled rifle?

The term “rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed cartridge. 26 U.S.C. 5845(c).

The term “short-barreled rifle” means a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches. 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(8).

Setting aside the requirements of having a barrel less than 16 inches in length and being less than 26 inches in overall length, the wording “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” seems fairly definitive – if you are looking through a lens made in 1934. In 2020 we have devices “designed to function using one hand/forearm” but have the appearance of a device “designed to be fired from the shoulder”. The problem with these definitions is that, to make a determination, a company can design a device with the intention of functioning one way, but the subjective perception is that it is designed for a different purpose.

Which leads me to today’s on-topic discussion.

What is a silencer?

The term “Firearm Silencer” or “Firearm Muffler” means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for the use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication. 18 U.S.C § 921(a)(24)

The term ‘any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm’ seems pretty cut and dry until you add the ‘including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for the use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler’ part of the definition. When does a part become a silencer part? The old adage of “you know it when you see it” may work for porn, but is less than ideal for law statutes.

SILENCER SATURDAY #156: ATF Rulemaking - From Braces To Silencers

SILENCER SATURDAY #156: ATF Rulemaking – From Braces To Silencers

Like machine guns and short barrel rifles, the subjective determination of what are parts or a combination of parts that constitute the legal definition of a silencer is nearly impossible to navigate. Without definitive and quantifiable attributes, Americans are left to wonder if a handful of washers, freeze plugs or a threaded tube carries legal ramifications. Or for those of us who prefer commercially manufactured silencers, where is the line that define mounts, pistons and end caps? If these parts all have subjective definitions that can be changed with determinations or ATF rulemaking, we can never be certain that actions taken with legal grounds one day will not later end up being felonious.

Let’s not forget that the Polymer80 Buy Build Shoot kits that require the use of power tools, hand tools and basic manufacturing skills that were once considered “80% kits” are now parts that can be readily assembled into firearms (pistols).

So what do we do about the NFA?

Criminal actions, not inanimate objects should determine how free people are governed. We shouldn’t have to live in fear of the possession of parts or a combination of simple parts. Our government should be required to changed or enact new laws rather than shoehorn outdated and unfair 86 year old laws. Technology and ideas advance and we are on the verge of a revolution of individual freedoms where one person can now have the same abilities as an entire factory.

Thanks for reading everyone. Be safe and we’ll see you here next weekend for another Silencer Saturday.

In this episode of TFBTV, James Reeves reviews Surefire’s Newest, Lightest Centerfire Rifle Can Ever: The SOCOM 65-Ti. James not only runs this can through the wringer at Thunder Ranch’s long range Counter-Sniper Course, but he even pays a visit to Surefire’s factory to talk to Barry Dueck about the testing and development of this titanium wonder can. From Surefire’s spec sheet: “SureFire’s revolutionary SOCOM65-Ti is the lightest rifle-mount suppressor we make, but if you want the best in noise attenuation, quality materials and precision craftsmanship, it’s a genuine heavy hitter. Designed to meet and exceed military sniper rifle suppressor specifications, it’s optimized for use with bolt-action weapon systems and precision rifles. It weighs a mere 11 ounces while maintaining our strictest durability standards. The SOCOM65-Ti’s internal venting technology evenly distributes thermodynamic gases, greatly reducing pressure impulse effects on the projectile as it clears the muzzle. Precision manufacturing tolerances, strict attention to bore concentricity and suppressor alignment combine to provide the best titanium suppressor available for 6 mm, 6.5 Creedmoor and .260 caliber rifles.”

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