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Old March 28, 2022, 06:40 PM   #1
Aguila Blanca
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BATFE update

I received an e-mail today from the NSSF with a caution about a new BATFE letter addressing forced reset triggers. Apparently, not all forced reset triggers are created equal, and some of them may be construed by the BATFE to be machine guns.

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/op...-frts/download

I considered posting this in the Rifles area, but these triggers can also be installed in those new-fangled "Other" firearms (the ones that sure look like short-barreled rifles pretending to not be short-barreled rifles), so I'm posting it here in the hope of reaching more members.

Bottom line: If you have forced reset triggers, or are considering buying one, read the letter carefully.
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Old March 29, 2022, 04:13 PM   #2
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Also got this open letter being an FFL-03 holder in good standing.

So how does the ATF get away with labeling essentially a component as an entire firearm. Set aside the fact that the lower receiver of an AR is the “firearm”, I get that part. It is the serialized part that holds all the other components. But are these FRT’s, as they are being called, serialized?? How do they quantify this argument??
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Old March 29, 2022, 04:44 PM   #3
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How do they quantify this argument??
I have no idea what their reasoning is, but they've been doing it since 1986 when the M16 auto sear, all by itself, without any gun present was classified as a "machine gun".

Personally, I don't know what a forced reset trigger is, or how it works, but according to a Washington Examiner article on MSN, it allows firing more than one round without releasing the trigger.

IF so, then that would meed the Fed definition of "machine gun".

However, I do have to wonder just how "creative" the definition is...
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Old March 29, 2022, 05:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by BornFighting88 View Post
Also got this open letter being an FFL-03 holder in good standing.

So how does the ATF get away with labeling essentially a component as an entire firearm. Set aside the fact that the lower receiver of an AR is the “firearm”, I get that part. It is the serialized part that holds all the other components. But are these FRT’s, as they are being called, serialized?? How do they quantify this argument??
Since BATFE has classified a piece of string as a "machine gun", https://www.everydaynodaysoff.com/20...g-machine-gun/

it takes very little to imagine creative thinking is involved.
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Old March 29, 2022, 07:16 PM   #5
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piece of string as a "machine gun...
Ya jus' can't make this stuff up.
It has to be seen to be believed.
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Old March 30, 2022, 10:17 AM   #6
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IF so, then that would meed the Fed definition of "machine gun".

However, I do have to wonder just how "creative" the definition is...
The ATF redefined it in the letter, in order to meet their desires. Instead of, "...single function of the trigger..." it is now "...continuous pull of the trigger..."
...Because the trigger must perform 3 (arguably 4) different functions, to reset for each subsequent shot. And, well, that word, "function" is just annoying and counterproductive to their cause.

You'll also note that they declare "some" triggers to be illegal NFA items, but not all. And they also do not specify which of them may or may not fall into either category.
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Old March 30, 2022, 10:46 AM   #7
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This is all totally predictable.

People should just quit trying to cheat.

I don't get the fascination with automatic weapons anyway.

Ammo is scarce and that's just another way to burn it up too fast.
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Old March 30, 2022, 12:39 PM   #8
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This is all totally predictable.

People should just quit trying to cheat.

I don't get the fascination with automatic weapons anyway.

Ammo is scarce and that's just another way to burn it up too fast.
And cars! Any car that's capable of going over 70 MPH should be banned. There's a worldwide energy shortage, no one should be wasting fuel going over 70 MPH.
/sarcasm!
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Old March 30, 2022, 12:42 PM   #9
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Not cheating…working within the law at the time…then the ATF does not like it and redefines was it is. Has happen multiple times in the past and will continue to be that way, prime example, the Franklin Armory Reformation. All fine and dandy until the ATF so, nope it is an SBR…
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Old March 30, 2022, 02:39 PM   #10
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Any car that's capable of going over 70 MPH should be banned.
Invalid comparison.

If it were illegal to have a car that could go over 70 you'd have a valid comparison.

So you don't.
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Old March 30, 2022, 02:42 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by GE-Minigun View Post
Not cheating…working within the law at the time…then the ATF does not like it and redefines was it is. Has happen multiple times in the past and will continue to be that way, prime example, the Franklin Armory Reformation. All fine and dandy until the ATF so, nope it is an SBR…
That's what happens when you try to cheat.

Never a happy ending.
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Old March 30, 2022, 02:51 PM   #12
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How is it cheating when you are working/designing within the law? Granted I'm not the smartest guy in the room, but if you (ATF) state that "X" is legal and "X" isn't and I design within both of those parameters then you change both "X"'s...how is that cheating? You (ATF) have moved the goal post...
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Old March 30, 2022, 02:56 PM   #13
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No.

The goal post is no automatic weapons. That's the law.

Just because you can slyly design a part to turn a semi auto into full auto doesn't mean you're not breaking the law.

You're still breaking that law.

But........people keep trying to cheat.
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Old March 30, 2022, 03:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by The Verminator View Post
No.

The goal post is no automatic weapons. That's the law.

Just because you can slyly design a part to turn a semi auto into full auto doesn't mean you're not breaking the law.

You're still breaking that law.

But........people keep trying to cheat.
Do forced reset triggers turn a semi auto into full auto? Is one part of an actual machine gun, a machine gun?
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Old March 30, 2022, 04:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Verminator
No.

The goal post is no automatic weapons. That's the law.

Just because you can slyly design a part to turn a semi auto into full auto doesn't mean you're not breaking the law.

You're still breaking that law.

But........people keep trying to cheat.
No, the goalpost is the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Having the BATFE nefariously come up with their opinion of what is and what is not lawful with near zero control by the People is not what the Founding Fathers intended.

You wouldn't have people trying to "cheat" if the BATFE wouldn't continually violate the Peoples' constitutional rights and make up definitions out of thin air after the fact a law abiding citizen already possesses the part/firearm. You wouldn't have people trying to "cheat" if there wasn't over 20,000 useless gun laws in place that violate the rights of citizens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Verminator
Invalid comparison.

If it were illegal to have a car that could go over 70 you'd have a valid comparison.

So you don't.
It's illegal to drive your car 70mph in Vermont. So, yes, he does have a valid comparison.

Your personal disdain of full auto weapons do not trump citizens' rights to defend themselves as they see fit. You can hide behind whatever garbage laws the BATFE wants to interpret as illegal all you want. And I don't condone breaking laws currently in place. But the fact of the matter is, just because it's the law doesn't mean that's where the goal post is set and the People just have to sit there and take it without legally fighting back against corrupt actions of the government.
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Old March 30, 2022, 04:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verminator
No.

The goal post is no automatic weapons. That's the law.

Just because you can slyly design a part to turn a semi auto into full auto doesn't mean you're not breaking the law.

You're still breaking that law.

But........people keep trying to cheat.
Since no one has slyly turned a semi-auto firearm into a fully auto firearm with an FRT, that hypothetical isn't what the BATF letter is about.

Congress wrote the law on this and it turns one whether more than one round is fired with "a single function of the trigger". You don't have to like the law, but it's Congresses job to write our laws, and there it is. That isn't what BATF are purporting to enforce. They've announced that they will enforce their own standard, a single, continuous pull of the trigger. BATF are part of the executive branch and don't properly create law.

I agree that people shouldn't try to cheat. That includes the BATF.
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Old March 30, 2022, 06:08 PM   #17
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Awww.......aren't those some interesting excuses?

Hey, if you keep trying to cheat and slyly break the law you WILL regret it.

But, you go and have your fun........I guarantee there will be consequences.
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Old March 30, 2022, 06:13 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Shane Tuttle View Post

It's illegal to drive your car 70mph in Vermont. So, yes, he does have a valid comparison.
No, he doesn't.

If it was against the law to own a car that would go over 70.......THEN he would have a valid comparison.
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Old March 30, 2022, 07:05 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Verminator
Awww.......aren't those some interesting excuses?
If your inference is that the law is an excuse, feel free to review the explanation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Verminator
If it was against the law to own a car that would go over 70......THEN he would have a valid comparison.
No, that's the hypothetical his comparison implies, not a factual assertion.

In the absence of the payment of a federal tax, it's not legal to possess a trigger that fires more than once with a single function of the trigger. It isn't just fully automatic firing that's prohibited, but the mechanism that permits it to happen.

That's the factual foundation. The comparison is to motor vehicle laws. If they functioned the same way, there'd be an analogous prohibition of a car geared to exceed more than 70mph with a single function of the accelerator.

Let's unpack the point of the comparison as well. We accept possession of a wide range of vehicles that are often very dangerous, but we endeavor to reduce the harm by making harmful acts illegal. Congress doesn't accept unregistered automatic rifles even though they are used almost exclusively by hobbyists as giggle generators.

The difference is the point of the comparison, not a flaw in it.

HTH.
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Old March 30, 2022, 07:46 PM   #20
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What difference does it make to have a car capable of going over 70 and a law in place you can't drive over 70?

The firearm (car) itself and the capabilities isn't in question. It's the parallel of the firearm/car being legal and the trigger/going over the speed limit.

You can parse the words said all you want. Fact is, seanc's comment draws the point of peoples' aversion of auto weapons and being permissive of allowing government overreach clearly violates our constitutional rights. If you don't already see the 20,000+ laws placed against the 2A as a problem, including the BATFE's constant overreach, then I can see why you think everyones' posts here are "excuses".
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Old March 30, 2022, 08:59 PM   #21
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I see a degree of validity in both sides of this argument.

For openers, I believe the Second Amendment means what it says, and that we should be allowed to own (and carry) any firearm we choose, up to and including machine guns. (I also believe that I should be allowed to own a tank, a howitzer, and an F-16 if I could afford them. Since I can't afford them, that's a moot point.) That said, private ownership of machine guns has been heavily restricted and regulated since 1934, and we pretty much all know that private citizens are not allowed to make or buy new ones. The supply is limited to those that already exist.

I also believe that laws are meant to be interpreted and applied according to the plain language understanding of what they say. While I don't like the Gun Control Act of 1934, I don't have an overwhelming need or urge to own or shoot a machine gun, so it doesn't affect me. I fully recognize that there are people who can afford to shoot more ammo in a day than I'll shoot in a lifetime, and that those people might like to own machine guns. I think they should be allowed to own them ... but they can't.

The sticky wicket arises when people try to parse the language of the laws and/or regulations to create something that IS -- functionally -- indistinguishable from a machine gun while technically not being a machine gun ... maybe.

The definition of a "machine gun" in the National Firearms Act of 1934 is:

Quote:
The term "machine gun" means any weapon which shoots, or is designed to shoot, automatically or semiautomatically, more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
The BATFE definition of a "machine gun" is found in 27 CFR 478.11:

Quote:
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 term shall also include 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 machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
So the BATFE regulation starts off by saying the same thing as the NFA, but then adds some further language about parts and conversions and "constructive possession." Let's skip that and stick to basics: a "machine gun" is a firearm that shoots, or is designed to shoot, automatically or semiautomatically, more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

The problem is that the NFA defined "machine gun," but it didn't define "trigger" or "function." I think the attorneys on this forum will confirm that, in general, when a term is not defined in a law itself, application of the law defers to the ordinary dictionary definition of the term. As applied to firearms, I don't think there's any controversy over what the "trigger" is. But ... what is a "function" of the trigger?

The dictionary definition of function (the noun) is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merriam-Webster
1 : professional or official position : occupation His job combines the functions of a manager and a worker.
2 : the action for which a person or thing is specially fitted or used or for which a thing exists : purpose
3 : any of a group of related actions contributing to a larger action especially : the normal and specific contribution of a bodily part to the economy of a living organism The function of the heart is to pump blood through the body.
4 : an official or formal ceremony or social gathering They went to several functions during their college reunion weekend.
5a : a mathematical correspondence that assigns exactly one element of one set to each element of the same or another set
b : a variable (such as a quality, trait, or measurement) that depends on and varies with another height is a function of age also : result illnesses that are a function of stress
6 : characteristic behavior of a chemical compound due to a particular reactive unit also : functional group
7 : a computer subroutine specifically : one that performs a calculation with variables (see variable entry 2 sense 1a) provided by a program and supplies the program with a single result
Number 1 doesn't apply in this context. Numbers 4 through 7 don't seem to apply in this context. What about numbers 2 and 3?

Quote:
2 : the action for which a person or thing is specially fitted or used or for which a thing exists : purpose
I'd say that could apply. The trigger exists to cause [or allow] a firearm to discharge. So that is the function of the trigger.

Quote:
3 : any of a group of related actions contributing to a larger action especially : the normal and specific contribution of a bodily part to the economy of a living organism The function of the heart is to pump blood through the body.
"A group of related actions ..." I'd say that could also apply. In fact, I'd say that in this context this is the definition that fits best. The way we have traditionally viewed it, a "single function" of a trigger means pulling the trigger far enough that it releases the sear and then allowing the trigger to return far enough to reset [and to allow the sear to reset].

So now we have all the "Philadelphia lawyer" type inventors who come up with things like bump stocks, binary triggers, and now forced reset triggers. They all pick their interpretation of what a "single function of the trigger" means, and then they get all butt-hurt if the BATFE doesn't agree with them. The problem is that we're arguing over a term that ISN'T DEFINED in the law. So until the courts tell us what the term means, we're guessing. We're playing with semantics. And when the price of holding the losing hand is a potential felony conviction, frankly it's a game I prefer not to play.

If Harry Hobbyist wants to fire up his Harbor Freight mill/drill machine and design a new gizmo that makes an ordinary semi-automatic firearm shoot as fast as a machine gun and that he thinks is within the letter of the law, I have no problem with that. Where I have concerns is when Harry Hobbyist takes his gizmo to Freddy Factory and Freddy starts churning out these gizmos and selling them to the rest of us, assuring us that "they're perfectly legal" because they still only fire one shot with each "function" of the trigger.

But "function" has still not been defined by the courts. This is why I consider such efforts to be akin to pulling a tiger's tail. We KNOW the BATFE doesn't want us to own machine guns. It should not be difficult to predict that anything that makes/allows a semi-automatic firearm to shoot as fast as a machine gun is going to awaken the sleeping tiger.
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Old March 30, 2022, 10:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EBIplus1
Quote:
I also believe that laws are meant to be interpreted and applied according to the plain language understanding of what they say.
I would disagree. Statutes are intended to be plain and clear to avoid a need to "interpret".
I respectfully submit that you are arguing semantics. Every time you read something, you interpret what the words mean. Here's what one state's statute has to say on the subject:

Quote:
Words and phrases. Construction of statutes. (a) In the construction of the statutes, words and phrases shall be construed according to the commonly approved usage of the language; and technical words and phrases, and such as have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in the law, shall be construed and understood accordingly.
Then there's this, from the Georgetown University Law Center:

https://www.law.georgetown.edu/wp-co...Statutes-1.pdf

Quote:
b.
Plain Meaning

i. Ordinary or Reasonable Understanding
Courts generally assume that the words of a statute mean what an “ordinary” or “reasonable” person would understand them to mean. Moreover, some courts adhere to the principle that if the words of a statute are clear and unambiguous, the court need not inquire any further into the meaning of the statute. Thus, you can often begin by looking at the ordinary or reasonable understanding of a statute’s text based on your own experience and understanding of language and grammar.

ii. Dictionary Definitions
Dictionaries can also be helpful in interpreting the meaning of statutory language. It will likely be more effective to compare and contrast definitions from multiple dictionaries to obtain a broader consensus on the meaning of words. Analyzing interpretations from multiple sources will help you to reduce the risk of choosing an interpretation that may have been approved by one source but rejected by many others. If you are asked to interpret a statute that was enacted a long time ago, you might consider digging up dictionary definitions (as well as other sources such as encyclopedias) from the time period in which the statute was enacted. Be aware however, that if a statute deals with a technical or specialized subject (e.g., ERISA, tax, telecommunications, etc.), the words in the statute may have meanings that differ from their ordinary usage. In such circumstances, courts may interpret the text dealing with a technical or specialized subject in a manner consistent with the way those words are used in the relevant industry or community.
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Old March 31, 2022, 07:15 AM   #23
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I would disagree. Statutes are intended to be plain and clear to avoid a need to "interpret".....
That all sounds well and good, but as a practical matter, it's impossible. As soon as one reaches for anything outside the 'four corners' of the statute to look for a meaning, you have reached 'interpretation.' For example, a statute may say 'it shall be unlawful to possess cocaine.' Well, what does it mean to 'possess' something? What exactly is 'cocaine?'

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Old March 31, 2022, 07:21 AM   #24
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Old March 31, 2022, 08:04 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca
The sticky wicket arises when people try to parse the language of the laws and/or regulations to create something that IS -- functionally -- indistinguishable from a machine gun while technically not being a machine gun ... maybe.
Should that wicket be sticky?

You are correct that a normal rule of statutory interpretation requires that terms not specifically defined be given their ordinary meaning. On the other hand, federally we have a doctrine of judicial deference to agencies in where their interpretations are deemed merely "reasonable".

If course, you are also correct at a practical level that tangling with people who have the power to ruin your life even if you are innocent of any charge they might bring shouldn't be undertaken casually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca
The problem is that the NFA defined "machine gun," but it didn't define "trigger" or "function." I think the attorneys on this forum will confirm that, in general, when a term is not defined in a law itself, application of the law defers to the ordinary dictionary definition of the term. As applied to firearms, I don't think there's any controversy over what the "trigger" is. But ... what is a "function" of the trigger?
The other source one could consult would be history and practice. If a trigger movement rearward is a function, and a trigger movement forward is a function, then a trigger movement backward and forward can't be a single function. That's the take on binary triggers, yes?

I set that forth as history and ask whether there is any genuine controversy as to the meaning of function in this context. That a federal agent wished the word meant something else doesn't introduce a real controversy as to meaning. The agent's desire to regulate shouldn't be the basis of his power to regulate.

If the term were so vague that one couldn't reasonably foresee which devices to which it applies, then there's a due process issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca
We KNOW the BATFE doesn't want us to own machine guns.
If we are governed by laws, should that ever matter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca
I also believe that laws are meant to be interpreted and applied according to the plain language understanding of what they say. While I don't like the Gun Control Act of 1934, I don't have an overwhelming need or urge to own or shoot a machine gun, so it doesn't affect me.
Like you, I have no use for a machine gun. I'd go a step further and assert that a binary trigger is a product liability wet dream. The government prohibiting something by this fiat redefinition doesn't affect us, but the process by which an agent that wants to expand its authority by redefining a word gets away with it, has made itself greater and has made you and me smaller.

A redefinition process that allows government itself to remove a limit on federal authority is a problem not only limited to firearms.

Last edited by zukiphile; March 31, 2022 at 09:40 AM.
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