Governing By Executive Fiat.
It's something that the Biden Administration knows quite well. Not even a week into the new year, Merrick Garland, Attorney General at the Department of Justice, announced a new "rule" for Federal Firearms Licensees, also known as FFLs.
The "Rule" is as follows: FFLs must have "safe storage" options for sale. The government is mandating that FFLs sell locks and safes. It also changes the definition of an antique firearm; you can read the change here.
While this might sound wholly bland and harmless, keep in mind that the DOJ can use the 1968 Gun Control Act to add new rules and regulations to gun ownership without passing any laws. This change means that unelected bureaucrats in executive branch positions can usurp federal power to make "law" as they see fit.
It is precisely this attitude that we've seen throughout 2021 from the Biden Administration, the Department of Justice, and the ATF. There's no reason to expect that they would shift their plans for 2022.
Just because gun owners were able to make their voices heard and stop the disastrous nomination of David Chipman to head the ATF doesn't mean that it's all over. 2021 has been full of significant accomplishments; we've added more constitutional carry states and 2nd amendment sanctuaries. Support for gun control has hit its lowest point, and almost 8 million new gun owners have decided to exercise their constitutional rights. That being said, we're headed into year number two of one of the most hostile administrations to gun rights in recent history.
We can make a few predictions about what the Biden admin may do (and to a lesser extent blue state governors as well) but let's take a look at some recent actions first.
In 2020, the ATF raided a company called Diversified Machine. Diversified Machine sells Solvent Traps. The ATF now considers these devices to be Suppressors. Since they raided Diversified Machine, the ATF has a list of all of Diversified Machine's customers.
A few days ago, the ATF sent customers of Diversified Machine letters saying that they were actually in possession of a suppressor and that those needed to be turned in immediately or those customers would face felony charges.
What separated Diversified Machine's solvent traps from any other solvent trap on the market? Well, their solvent traps were dimpled on the end caps.
Prior to these letters, the ATF offered no guidance on what they did/did not consider to be a suppressor, or solvent trap, dimpled end caps or not. Solvent traps are popular with Form 1 Suppressor groups online, as they can be purchased, an ATF Form 1 can be filed, and then said solvent trap can be converted into a suppressor.
This behavior is par for the course with the ATF and should come as no surprise for long-time gun owners. In 2021 we saw them change rules on 80% kits, pistol braces, and the Rare Breed Forced-Reset-Trigger.
What's interesting about this letter to Diversified Machine customers, though, is that the ATF states explicitly that the customer is in possession of a suppressor. Even though the words "readily convertible" are used in conjunction, we can only infer that the ATF is considering these solvent traps as sold to be actual suppressors, making the purchase of a solvent trap a violation of the 1968 GCA and the National Firearms Act, or NFA.
We should expect a forthcoming "rule" on solvent traps that will turn millions of Americans into felons overnight. What's worse is the ATF hasn't stopped at solvent traps; they've started investigating people who have bought fuel filters online. According to Ammoland, Federal Agents visited an unnamed Florida resident who had purchased fuel filters online. The Agents demanded that he hand over the filters, even though he did not own firearms. Another example of wackiness, a YouTuber named "Truck Master" was told to turn over the diesel truck filters he was using for his truck builds under suspicion that they were illegal suppressors.
The question we have to ask is, how far is too far? The ATF has decided on a whim that fuel filters and solvent traps fit their definition of a suppressor, even though both items have legitimate uses beyond being firearm suppressors.
In 2022, we should expect the ATF and DOJ to march forward with the idea that anything that is "readily convertible" to be a firearm, is in fact, a firearm in the eyes of the Feds. It's looking grim for 80% kits like Polymer80. How long until it's an NFA/GCA violation if you have a block of metal and CNC knowledge. There's not much separating those two things.
We should also expect a "Blue Wave" of gun control legislation and proposals on the state and federal level, with politicians and governors doubling down on unpopular gun policy. Considering how low Biden is currently polling and the 2022 midterms fastly approaching, gun control is an easy issue for the President to pull out and energize his base. Doubling down on gun control will also keep his major donors like Bloomberg and Soros from the anti-gun lobby happy. Blue state governors will, of course, follow suit. We saw Gavin Newsom of CA recently propose gun control as a way to spit in the face of gun owners and one-up the Texas abortion law at the same time.
Expect the Biden Admin to try and move forward with already proposed rules regarding pistol braces as well. Currently, the DOJ has asked for delays on the final rule's implementation as they try to figure out a way to get around all the impending lawsuits from the pro-gun lobby.
I also expect Biden to nominate a Gun Czar, as an appeasement to the Gun Control lobby, after being such a disappointment that the mainstream media have run headlines like this.
So, what can we do to stop this? Right now, because of the way that the ATF is using current law to add additional regulations, our best bet of stopping the ATF from continuing to be able to act in this manner is the bump stock case currently making its way to the supreme court. The case is Aposhian v. Garland, and it tackles why the ATF has been able to, on a whim, decide that items are illegal. That being a legal doctrine called the "Chevron Deference." This is a legal test in which a court may not substitute its own interpretation for a reasonable interpretation made by an administrative agency.
The question isn't if Aposhian v. Garland makes it to the supreme court; it's when. A panel of 16 judges on the 6th circuit just had a tie vote (8-8) on the case, making it even more necessary for the Supreme Court to weigh in on this hotly debated issue.
We've seen a clear pathway that the anti-gun lobby is taking in our coverage of gun control issues. Using the NFA, 1968 GCA, FOPA, and other gun control laws on the books, they've managed to ban bump stocks and inch closer and closer to regulating semi-automatic firearms under the NFA or outright ban them. This Case, Aposhian v. Garland, would put a significant roadblock in front of the ATF by taking away their ability to regulate items without congressional approval.
With hotly contested midterms and Presidential approval ratings plummeting, The Biden Administration will be looking for any scapegoat to rally their base back to vote. Gun control will likely be that issue, and gun owners should be ready to get out and once again make their voices heard.