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Old October 29, 2018, 07:04 AM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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ATF Going After Pistol Braces?

The Prince Law blog discusses a case where an Ohio man is being charged with unregistered possession of a short barrelled rifle for possessing an AR15 pistol with a brace and AFG.

Much of the case is still sealed so details are scarce; but we do know ATF has asked the court to exclude from evidence letters from the ATF’s own Firearms and Ammunition Techonology Division. They argue “ATF FATD letters at trial creates a grave risk of confusing the issues and misleading the jury...”

https://blog.princelaw.com/2018/10/2...might-be-next/

ETA: And for those who do not read links, the man was acquitted. Although I imagine that fighting it in federal district court was no small change.

Last edited by Bartholomew Roberts; October 29, 2018 at 07:11 AM.
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Old October 29, 2018, 09:38 AM   #2
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What is an AFG?

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we do know ATF has asked the court to exclude from evidence letters from the ATF’s own Firearms and Ammunition Techonology Division. They argue “ATF FATD letters at trial creates a grave risk of confusing the issues and misleading the jury...”
Leave it to the BATFE to want to pretend that they never said what they said. Before he leaves office, Trump REALLY should disband that bunch of slimeballs.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; October 30, 2018 at 03:32 PM.
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Old October 29, 2018, 09:40 AM   #3
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I do agree that determination letters have a good chance of confusing a jury, because they are not consistent, require knowledge of firearm laws and regulations, and any given letter might contradict another.

But that's what the public has to work with, and needs to be what the courts (and juries) have to work with.


AFG = Angled Forward Grip
(I had to think about that, too. Still didn't get it. Discovered the meaning while reading the article.)
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Old October 29, 2018, 10:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Aguila Blanca
Quote:
we do know ATF has asked the court to exclude from evidence letters from the ATF’s own Firearms and Ammunition Techonology Division. They argue “ATF FATD letters at trial creates a grave risk of confusing the issues and misleading the jury...”
I doubt ATF had anything to do with trial procedure....that would be the USAO.


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Leave it to the BATFE to want to pretend that they never said what they said.
Which is why we keep warning people that ATF determination letters are merely the current opinion of an ATF employee and not law. But people being people are quite willing to ignore what they don't want to believe and accept at face value the expert opinion of some anonymous guy on the internet.



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Before he leaves office, Trum REALLY should disband that bunch of slimeballs.
And this is part of the problem.
The President does not, never has and likely never will have the authority or power to '"disband" a Federal agency or the law that enables that Federal agency.

Why this was not learned in jr high is baffling to me.


Not to forget that Trump only supports the Second Amendment when reminded too.
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Old October 29, 2018, 10:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankenMauser
I do agree that determination letters have a good chance of confusing a jury, because they are not consistent, require knowledge of firearm laws and regulations, and any given letter might contradict another.
Which means they either don’t understand they own rules or their enforcement/opinions are arbitrary and capricious....

Or more likely both.
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Old October 29, 2018, 12:12 PM   #6
Bartholomew Roberts
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To be fair to ATF, many of the existing statutes are vaguely drafted (and I suspect some of that vagueness by Congress is intentional). So ATF is frequently tasked with interpreting vague language - and as a government agency, a lot of how they go about that has the potential to be discoverable or subject to FOIA requests.

Throw in some turnover, undermanning, etc. and it becomes very difficult to give consistent rulings on highly technical subjects across the board without appearing contradictory.

However, as FrankenMauser noted, this also makes it difficult for citizens who want to comply with the law to know what to do. And ATF isn’t doing any favors to the public or citiizens by creating grey areas.

I’m curious what the sealed backstory is here that would cause the government to try and push this type of prosecution given past ATF private letter rulings on braces and angled foregrips both.
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Old October 29, 2018, 05:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogtown tom
Quote:
Leave it to the BATFE to want to pretend that they never said what they said.
Which is why we keep warning people that ATF determination letters are merely the current opinion of an ATF employee and not law. But people being people are quite willing to ignore what they don't want to believe and accept at face value the expert opinion of some anonymous guy on the internet.
I know, but if a person who is being charged with a felony went to the trouble of obtaining a BATFE letter of opinion (either himself, or a copy of someone else's letter) that said what he wanted to do is (or was, at the time he did it) legal, he certainly should not be prohibited from submitting the official government agency letter upon which he relied in pursuing his course of action in the belief that he was acting legally rather than proceeding with knowledge that he would be breaking the law.
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Old October 30, 2018, 08:30 AM   #8
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I know, but if a person who is being charged with a felony went to the trouble of obtaining a BATFE letter of opinion (either himself, or a copy of someone else's letter) that said what he wanted to do is (or was, at the time he did it) legal, he certainly should not be prohibited from submitting the official government agency letter upon which he relied in pursuing his course of action in the belief that he was acting legally rather than proceeding with knowledge that he would be breaking the law.
You are giving a fair description of the equitable doctrine of estoppel. Unfortunately, estoppel generally doesn't apply to government when it is performing a governmental function, which law enforcement is.

As other have already noted, for the government to argue that it's own regulatory directions are so muddy that people who show up for jury service can't be expected to understand them should get a hearty laugh.

This also indicates part of the problem with agency regulation functioning as legislation. The poster child for that is Internal Revenue, but at least there is a body of definition and custom that lets specialists in that field make principled determinations. It's a cheek rest or arms support, maybe, even if we previously said it isn't, unless you touch your shoulder with it, or not, unless you can grasp anything with your weak hand at an angle of more than 35 degrees, subject to how we feel about when you do it doesn't have any of the features of a rule, and there is really no underlying and commonly accepted moral or ethical transgression involved that might lend guidance. At least if the law comes from the legislature one gets the benefit of the text, and if the judgments come from courts one get the benefit of precedent.
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Old October 30, 2018, 08:53 AM   #9
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So, does his acquittal give us any legal standing on these braces?

Case law so to speak...
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Old October 30, 2018, 10:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
So, does his acquittal give us any legal standing on these braces?

Case law so to speak...
Not if they can help it . After all they tried to block their own documentation .
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Old October 30, 2018, 10:52 AM   #11
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Makes perfect sense to me...They don't want to confuse the jury.

Prosecuting someone when they have a letter from the GOVT saying what they did is legal ALWAYS confuses juries!!

So, naturally the prosecution doesn't want those letters shown to the court.
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Old October 30, 2018, 12:43 PM   #12
Bartholomew Roberts
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So, does his acquittal give us any legal standing on these braces?

Case law so to speak...
Since it was resolved at the district court level, not really. It might make ATF a little more reluctant to pursue this line of attack in the future since the lost. Then again, they might think they know the argument that will win next time. Tough to say.
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Old October 30, 2018, 03:42 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, this type of ex post facto interpretation/reinterpretation of regulations isn't new, and isn't limited to the BATFE. Probably 25 (or more) years ago, a well-known architecture and engineering firm was sued because the .gov alleged that sports stadiums they had designed didn't comply with ADA regulations for sight lines for persons with disabilities. Since that was my line of work, I was interested ... especially since I had worked on similar facilities, and I knew people who worked for the firm that was sued.

The issue was that the ADA requires that seats for persons with disabilities provide sight lines equivalent to other seats in the venue. Okay, no problem. I can recall looking over multiple large-scale cross-section views of theaters, showing people seated in various tiers to verify that everyone could see over the heads of the people seated in front of them. This is what the entire design profession thought the ADA required.

But no! The Access Board and the DOJ sued this firm because people in wheelchairs couldn't see the playing field if the people in front of them stood up. And the .gov produced an interpretation from the Access Board illustrating that. The problem? The interpretive illustration was created years after the stadiums in question had been designed and built.

This is called "moving the goalposts," and it should be resisted and punished severely whenever the .gov tries to do it.
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Old October 30, 2018, 05:39 PM   #14
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I wish the Denver Broncos could “move the goal post”.
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Old November 3, 2018, 08:24 PM   #15
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So are the lever action pistols going to be the next in the ATF’s “sights”?

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Old November 3, 2018, 10:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
So are the lever action pistols going to be the next in the ATF’s “sights”?
Different class of firearm, when it comes to definitions and "opinions".
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Old November 4, 2018, 01:00 AM   #17
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Not that I would want to gamble with the state-provided attorney, this ordeal didn't cost the defendant a dime, but likely cost him a few years in stress alone...

https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/20...e-prosecution/

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The other good news for Mr. Wright — besides the not guilty verdict — is that while the entire ordeal was no doubt extremely stressful, his defense didn’t cost him a thing. Wright was represented by a court-appointed attorney and came away owing not a dime. The cherry on top is that the ATF and US Attorney were publicly embarrassed for prosecuting a frivolous case, one with a couple of gaping legal holes that never should have seen the inside of a court room.
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Old November 4, 2018, 04:53 AM   #18
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A COURT APPOINTED lawyer pulled this off? Nice.....
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Old November 4, 2018, 09:30 AM   #19
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I would certainly regard a lever gun with a short barrel and short stock that the ATF used to consider an NFA, turned on a dime and OK’ed to be in danger with the agency reversing course with AR pistols equipped with a wrist brace in the case illuminated by this thread to be at risk.

I would not rest easy because the AR is a semi-auto and the Lever is manually operated.

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