Thursday, August 10, 2023

National Association for Gun Rights Challenges ATF's Classification of Forced Reset Triggers as Machineguns

Michael Cargill triumphed in opposing the ATF's reclassification of bump fire stocks as machine guns in the Fifth Circuit. This likely influenced the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) to select the Northern District of Texas for their suit against the ATF's reclassification of forced reset triggers.

Recently, NAGR launched a lawsuit against the firearms regulatory body, aiming to reverse the abrupt and seemingly whimsical decision to target Rare Breed and its customers who purchased their drop-in triggers.

NAGR contends in their legal case that, according to the decision in the Cargill case, Rare Breed's triggers do not qualify as machine guns under the existing legal definition. The Cargill ruling delved into the precise wording used to define "machinegun," highlighting that it specifically refers to the "single function of the trigger," not the action of the shooter's finger. This distinction focuses on the firearm's mechanics rather than any external human intervention.

In their investigations, the ATF has asserted that Forced Reset Triggers (FRTs) are categorized as "machineguns" because they may facilitate firing multiple rounds through a “single, continuous pull of the trigger.” This stance is directly challenged by the precedent set in the Cargill case.

Furthermore, the defense cannot convincingly argue that FRTs enable multiple rounds to be fired through a single action of the trigger, since an FRT needs to reset after every shot, necessitating a distinct trigger function for each bullet fired.

The full details of NAGR's complaint can be accessed here. Following this, NAGR publicized their legal move with a press release.

NAGR has lodged their complaint against the ATF in the Northern District of Texas federal court, aligning with the earlier verdict in the Cargill case that bump stocks do not meet the machine gun classification. 

Rare Breed Triggers FRT site-15. Image source; Rare Breed Triggers web

An ATF communication to federal firearms dealers in 2022 disclosed their assessment of devices known as 'forced reset triggers' (FRTs), deeming some as 'firearms' and 'machineguns' based on the National Firearms Act (NFA) and the Gun Control Act (GCA) definitions.

Rare Breed Triggers began marketing the Forced Reset Trigger in late 2020, having consulted multiple legal and firearms professionals on its design. Yet, by early 2021, the ATF initiated moves to prohibit FRTs. Their justification was citizen concerns about Rare Breed's FRTs, but evidence showed no such citizen inquiries.

Dudley Brown, NAGR's President, commented on the ATF's actions, criticizing their attempts to put Rare Breed Triggers out of business and their general approach to those producing legal FRTs.

The Texas lawsuit aims to halt the ATF's prohibition on FRT triggers and safeguard NAGR affiliates and FRT owners from ATF overreach.

By federal definitions, a machine gun is recognized as a firearm that can fire multiple shots automatically via one trigger action. This longstanding definition, which the ATF now seems to sidestep, makes it clear that Rare Breed Triggers’ FRT fires one round per trigger action.

Hannah Hill, Executive Director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, expressed concern about the ATF's attempts to erode rights through redefinitions and emphasized the importance of checks on agency power.

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