ATF Warn of Structuring After Defeat in District Court to Polymer80
One day after Polymer80 won in court and started selling P80 kits with both jigs and frames for the first time since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) rule surrounding frames and receivers (Final Rule 2021R-05F), the ATF issued an open letter threatening to prosecute sellers of gun parts and tools if they “structure” transactions to avoid the regulation.
Structuring is a financial crime where a person or business structures deposits to avoid setting off red flags. After 9-11, when a person or a company deposit over $10,000, they must complete extra paperwork. The government runs additional checks to ensure they are not laundering money for a criminal enterprise or terrorist organization. Many people make smaller deposits over several days to avoid these extra checks. To discourage this, the government has made it a serious crime to structure transactions. Now the ATF is using the same standard for purchasing gun parts.
If Company A produces a blank frame and a jig and then sells the blank frame and directs the buyer to another site to buy the jig, the ATF seems to be saying that the company is structuring the transaction. This definition of “structuring” is a departure from any the government has ever used.
“Specifically, since the Frame or Receiver Final Rule became effective on August 24, 2022, some suppliers of partially complete frames or receivers appear to be structuring their transactions or coordinating with other persons or entities to sell, distribute, or otherwise make available, in ostensibly independent or separate transactions, the compatible templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, or guides needed to complete the partially complete frames or receivers to the same individuals who purchase a partially completed frame or receiver from the original supplier. As explained further below, such conduct will affect how ATF analyzes what materials have been “made available by” the supplier under the Final Rule and, under certain circumstances, could be evidence of a willful intent to violate the requirements of the GCA, as implemented by the Frame or Receiver Final Rule, or defraud the United States, and ATF may investigate these activities,” the letter reads.
The ATF says they will prioritize actions against companies caught structuring the selling of frames and jigs.
The ATF also asked help from the public to find companies “structuring.” They also stated any previous determination letters are null and void. Although since, Polymer80, the overwhelming industry leader in 80% firearms, is exempted because a District Judge granted the company a preliminary injunction against the ATF.
“Anyone who observes suspected violations of the GCA or ATF’s implementing regulations may report them to ATF. Any persons can call their local field office, can contact ATF’s Emerging Threats Unit, or report a potential violation to ATF’s tip line at Submit a Tip | Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (atf.gov), https://www.atf.gov/atf-tips,” the letter reads.
It was signed by Steve Dettlebach, who is under increased pressure since the ATF’s rule has seen multiple setbacks in court, with many companies getting injunctions against the ATF’s “ghost gun” rule. But the ATF isn’t just losing on frames and receivers. The Fifth Circuit court of appeals also found the Trump-era bump stock ban was unconstitutional in the Cargill ruling under the Administrative Procedures Act. The ATF not only used the same rule-making power for the frames and receiver rule, but it also used the same unconstitutional power in the pistol brace rule.
AmmoLand News spoke to Gun Owners of America’s (GOA) Executive Vice President, John Velleco, late Tuesday night, who was upset at the ATF’s open letter.
“The Biden administration and the ATF are not only turning hundreds of thousands–if not millions–of law-abiding citizens into potential felons, but the ATF is now *prioritizing* enforcement of the unconstitutional frames and receiver rule,” Velleco said. “I guess since the Left is successfully keeping violent felons out of the prison system, they have plenty of room for American gun owners.”
The ATF didn’t name any particular company or explain why it decided to release the letter now, but many people believe it was thanks to Polymer80 winning an injunction.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.