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January 25, 2022

SHOT TV REWIND: The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski Talks ATF Rulemaking and More

SHOT SHOW® 2022 returned after a one-year hiatus and the guests on SHOT TV didn’t miss a beat. The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski joined NSSF’s Mark Oliva for an in-depth conversation about the rulemaking process at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and what law-abiding gun owners could expect from the agency involving unfinished firearms frames and receivers as well as commonly-owned pistol arm braces.

Building firearms in the home has always been legal in the United States – even before the founding of the nation. There has never been restrictions on home-built firearms for personal use that are not transferred to others. Currently, the ATF only regulates firearm receivers once they cross the 80 percent completion threshold. Before that, it is perfectly legal for hobbyists to complete their own firearm.

That might be changing. The ATF is considering redefining what constitutes unfinished parts and firearm parts that would require a serial number. That could upend not just those who choose to build their own firearms, but also those gunsmiths repairing firearms and parts makers providing those items. The new rulemaking decision could potentially turn millions of law-abiding gun owners into criminals overnight.

“The ATF, under President Biden’s executive orders and initiatives he’s taking, wanted to change that definition to make it much more expansive and give the ATF much more power over deciding what is and isn’t a firearm frame or receiver,” Gutowski explained. “Really the serialization is the issue at the core of this because you have gun control advocates and the president who say you shouldn’t have un-serialized parts…but serialization itself really wasn’t even required until the 1960s.”

Oliva noted that the changes and expansion in scope of the ATF’s rules wouldn’t just affect firearm manufacturers, but millions of law-abiding Americans as well who already passed an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System verification to lawfully purchase their firearms previously as well as even the ATF. Gutowski agreed.

“Yes – a lot of these executive orders, these new rules they want to put in place, would require a lot of work on the ATF’s part quite frankly. There would be a lot of registration involved with these. Millions of people could be affected by these new rules,” Gutowski explained. “There would be millions and millions of new paperwork, and new rules don’t provide new resources.”

Gutowski and Oliva also discussed the dynamics at play regarding the ATF’s consideration of regulating AR-style pistols equipped with arm braces. Arm braces are used by millions of Americans, including those with disabilities or physical barriers to help them exercise their Second Amendment. The pending rule, though, could turn those gun owners into criminals as well.

Watch the full interview from SHOT Show 2022 here.

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NSSF Brings Six Second Amendment Stalwarts Together for Governors’ Forum


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