Wednesday, August 23, 2023

National Review Missteps in Coverage of ATF's Frame or Receiver Rule

People generally expect left-leaning media like the Washington Post and the New York Times to support the Biden administration's gun control initiatives. However, it's surprising to see the conservative outlet National Review appear to back the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in a poorly researched article.

The article, titled "Yes, the ATF Can Legally Regulate Ghost Guns," suggests that the ATF has the authority to regulate unfinished or 80-percent frames or receivers. These are often termed "ghost guns" because they are untraceable. However, the analysis in National Review seems to be misleading.

The ATF's 2021R-05 rule aims to redefine what constitutes a "frame or receiver." It seeks to include even incomplete or non-functional frames or receivers within its regulatory scope. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has criticized this rule, arguing that the new definition diverges from federal law, which defines a "firearm" differently and doesn't consider a "frame or receiver" to be a "weapon." 

The Northern District Court of Texas recently nullified this ATF rule. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay allowing the rule to be enforced temporarily, the legal battles continue.

The National Review article also incorrectly applies the definition of "destructive devices" in an attempt to validate the ATF's overreach. The true definition is far more nuanced and doesn't support the article's claim. 

If one wishes to argue for the regulation of unfinished frames or receivers, such efforts should be directed towards legislative bodies. Any changes to the law would still need to be in line with the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent cases like New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022).

So, contrary to what the National Review suggests, the ATF's attempt to broaden its authority lacks solid legal grounding, and the discussion needs a more nuanced examination than what was presented.

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