ATF Ponders Changing Definition of What Is a Firearm To Target Growing Gun Diversity

Printed 3D AR15 receivers are just one of many new firearm creations.

Washington, DC –- ( – Several major federal Type 7 firearms manufacturers, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Polymer80, met with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today.

Although the detailed discussions of the meeting are currently unknown, AmmoLand News has received leaked emails from our sources indicating that the ATF is looking for a new definition of a firearm. Joe Biden has been targeting ghost guns and semi-automatic rifles for the past few days. Sources say he is pushing to accelerate these changes by using the ATF as a loophole for deadlocked federal laws.

The email states: “As you know, the definition of the weapon frame / receiver according to the current regulation 27 CFR 478.11 states that it is the part of a weapon that contains the housing for the hammer, bolt or breech block and provides the firing mechanism and is usually threaded on its front part to accommodate the barrel. “

The email also states that many frames / recipients do not meet this definition. The meeting should seek input and feedback on the new definition to include all current weapon frames / receivers in the market.

The Wall Street Journal incorrectly reported that the meeting was about targeting unfinished (80%) frames. E-mails actually received indicate that the “listening session” with ATF was more about the growing variety of new weapon styles and the serialization of additional weapon parts. Including Rifle Chassis Systems, but also the long, unchanging history of the receiver definition of firearms and the need for updates to reflect “changes in technology”.

A lower AR-15 receiver houses the hammer and firing mechanism, while the upper receiver houses the bolt. In a FAL, the top receiver is the serialized firearm. The meeting seems to be going in the direction of changing the discrepancies between different weapons.

There have been several cases recently where the ATF has arrested someone for selling a lower AR-15 receiver. The defendant challenges the ATF because a lower AR-15 receiver does not fit the definition of a firearm. The ATF quietly dropped the cases without comment.

One case that stands out is the ATF arrest of Joseph Roh for illegally manufacturing AR-15 rifles in Los Angeles. He denied the classification of a lower AR15 receiver as a firearm by the ATF. Instead of fighting the case, the ATF quietly dropped it. Most believe that the ATF feared a judge would rule in Roh’s endless gun control efforts.

The video meeting, which was attended by more than 60 people, was attended by a number of manufacturers and representatives from the firearms industry, including Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), who commented:

“As the trade association for the firearms industry, NSSF is always ready to enter into a dialogue with ATF about regulatory issues that affect our industry members’ businesses so that we can protect their legal and commercial interests.”

Change the definition of a firearm

Sources within the ATF tell us the agency is considering changing the definition of a gun to include the upper instead of the frame. The ATF states that anyone can finish an 80% frame or even a 3D print, but most citizens do not have the tools to finish a slide.

Safety Harbor Firearms produces a .50 caliber upper called SHTF 50 for the AR-15. The ATF stepped in and insisted the upper was a firearm and forced the company to serialize it. This decision made both the top and bottom receivers a weapon. The ATF argued that the company made the upper too much like a repeating rifle.

Safety Harbor Firearms SHTF 50 Mag Fed UpperSafety Harbor Firearms SHTF 50 Mag Fed Upper

The proposed changes have gotten into the hands of Everytown for Gun Safety, although they are not currently public. The Gun Control Group appears satisfied with the proposed changes. It is not clear how they managed to get the documents.

AmmoLand asked the ATF for comment but received no response.

About John Crump

John is an NRA instructor and constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people from all walks of life, and the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at

John Crump

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