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Second Amendment Foundation Vs. Everytown: What is a Gun?



At issue: Is this a gun, or not?

Before they ban all the guns, they must redefine what a gun is.

A couple of years back, the anti-gunners were all sheeting themselves about “ghost guns.” At some point, someone must have sat them down and (with the help of some crayons and a number of flow charts) explained that there’s no such thing as ghosts. Specifically, someone must have explained that an 80% lower isn’t defined by the ATF as a firearm, and that making your own AR-15 from an unfinished lower is perfectly legal. This is when they turned their lifeless, doll-like eyes towards receiver blanks in a new federal case. The Second Amendment Foundation is already fighting back, at the root of the problem: What is a gun? The SAF’s update is below.


The Second Amendment Foundation today filed an amicus brief in a federal case that is trying to force the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to define certain firearms components as “firearms.”

“Forcing ATF to adopt the new approach to classification of certain gun components that the plaintiffs in this case are demanding would greatly expand ATF authority beyond the 1968 Gun Control Act,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “If their effort succeeds, it would violate rights protected by the Second Amendment by imposing restrictions on otherwise lawful Second Amendment activity excluded from the GCA.”

Consistent with congressional intent under the GCA, ATF long ago determined that unfinished frame and receiver blanks without any machine work or indexing have not yet reached a stage of manufacture in which they are classified as firearm frames or receivers under the GCA. Various special interests are now challenging ATF’s interpretation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case is known as City of Syracuse, NY et al v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives et al.

The lawsuit was filed last year by the Cities of Syracuse, N.Y., San Jose, Calif., Chicago, Ill., and Columbia, S.C. along with the billionaire-backed Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. In addition to ATF as an agency, defendants include Acting ATF director Regina Lombardo in her official capacity, plus the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General.

At issue are such things as frame blanks or partially-manufactured frames for firearms, also commonly known as “80% frames” or “unfinished receivers.”

The issues in this case can have unprecedented ramifications on the rights of SAF members. SAF’s intimate knowledge of the ATF interpretations at issue, the Second Amendment implications of the interpretations, and SAF’s quantitative assessment of the administrative record will provide a unique perspective and helpful insight to the Court in resolving these issues.

“Building your own firearms is a long-standing tradition in this country, from the earliest days of the Republic to the present day,” Gottlieb explained. “There are adequate existing laws and regulations covering this time-honored activity, which the gun prohibition lobby and its allies in municipal governments around the country now wish to restrict, if not entirely destroy. We simply cannot stand by and allow this to happen.”


What is a gun? Is it an unfinished lower receiver? A firing pin? It’s a radical question, but an important one, because the truth of the matter is that you can make an AK-47 out of a shovel (like this guy did). How far will the anti-gunners go before they realize that, and what will they do when they figure it out (with the help of a very patient interpreter, a gross of crayons, and a series of flow charts, of course)?

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