Friday, December 9, 2016

ATF

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ATF Punched

March 10, 2015 was a Red Letter Day. No; it had nothing to do with Hillary’s e-mail “coming out party” at the United Nations. And, no, ISIS has not forsaken its bloodlust ways. It’s perhaps even more remarkable.

A federal government agency has backed down!

Specifically, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (affectionately known simply as “ATF”) publicly admitted failure and backed away from its misguided and disingenuous attempt to ban one of the most popular ammunition rounds in civilian use.

However, before we break open a bottle of The Bubbly, it must be kept in mind that this victory may be only temporary. As we know from actual experience over the past six years, the Obama Administration consistently and repeatedly has failed to live up to its self-styled status as the most honest and “transparent” in history.

This latest foray into heavy-handed regulatory warfare began a month ago when ATF – reversing a 29-year old decision – issued a “proposed” rule change that would designate .223-caliber “green tip” rifle cartridges (also known as “M855” ammunition) as “armor piercing.” The regulation would do this by removing the ammunition from the list of ammunition “exempted” from being considered “armor piercing.” The change would have made it unlawful for citizens – who use these cartridges by the millions in the widely-popular rifle platform known as the “AR-15” – to purchase or possess M855 ammunition.

M855 ammunition is used by target shooters and other sportsmen because of its accuracy, relatively reasonable price, and wide availability. It has never been documented to be have been used in handguns by criminals against law enforcement; despite claims by ATF that it is has been thus employed (which was the Bureau’s stated reason for the ban).

Unsaid in ATF’s proposed ban is the fact that the AR-15 rifle, which uses the M855 round, has long-been the “poster boy” for demonizing firearms by the gun-control crowd. This crowd, using the intimidation and fact-distortion tactics common to Liberals in politics and the media, has tried repeatedly in recent years to pass legislation limiting the availability of the AR-15. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for those of us who understand and support the Constitution’s Second Amendment protections, gun-control efforts in this regard have failed.

But, the gun control folks have a friend in ATF; and through regulatory sleight-of-hand, the Bureau tried to slip one over on the American people. The Bureau had gone so far as to publish a newly-revised regulatory manual explaining that M855 ammunition was now considered an unlawful “armor-piercing” round – even before the public comment period for the proposed regulation was ended. That proved to be a “Bridge too Far.” A massive, public anti-ban comment avalanche, coupled with several bipartisan letters in opposition to what ATF was doing from the Congress, has forced ATF to rescind its proposed ban.

Clearly, however, the leopard has not changed its spots. This Administration, including the current leadership of the ATF in particular, remains strongly committed to restricting, rather than protecting, the people’s right to keep and bear arms – including ammunition. If the dozens of members of Congress who publicly stood in opposition to this latest “executive action” by President Obama, and if the tens of thousands of average citizens who did the same, think that the battle is won and they can take their eye off the ball and rest easy, think again.

Just as Obama and his Department of Justice (which is about to get a protégé of Eric Holder as his replacement) have thumbed their nose at the rule of law in other areas, including immigration, if left to their own devices even for a moment, they will not hesitate to find some other way to accomplish what ATF was unable to do this go round.

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Barack_Obama_shooting

In answer to a question by White House reporter Fred Lucas, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Barack Obama’s plan to ban so-called AR-15 “armor piercing” ammunition that could be used in handguns against police and other law enforcement officers.

Earnest described the Executive Action as a “common sense” approach to gun violence and that the president has directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to promulgate regulations to implement the ban of 5.56-millimeter “M855 green tip” rifle bullets so they cannot be in handguns.

238 congressional lawmakers voiced their opposition to the ban in a letter to BATFE Director, B. Todd Jones urging that the agency reconsider the proposed “Framework” to label these and other ammunition types as “armor piercing.” Quoting the letter:

“Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet the ATF has not even alleged, much less offered evidence, that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer…”

Earnest sidestepped the question of President Obama changing his decision to impose the ban by directing reporters to the BATFE and the “standard process” of gathering public comment before the ban would be final – a arguably pointless exercise if the decision has already been made.

The National Rifle Association is marshalling its’ forces in Congress to pass legislation overturning the ban legislatively if the BATFE moves forward with President Obama’s ammo ban edict.

In an editorial published in The Daily Caller, Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action said:

“President Barack Obama made a public promise to enact his gun control agenda “with or without Congress.” Now he’s trying to make good on that promise”…through “a dictatorial ban on the popular M855 or “green tip” rifle ammunition – one of the most popular cartridges for the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15.

No vote by Congress. No will of the people. Through executive action, Obama is moving to outlaw the manufacture and importation of common ammunition that millions of law-abiding Americans use every day for target shooting, hunting, and self-defense. Obama figures if he can’t ban our guns, he’ll render them useless.

Predictably, the coming ban has triggered a run on the popular round at gun and retail sporting goods stores with prices spiking from $10-$11 for a box of twenty rounds to $20 or more.

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Ghost Gun Guy
Look for this guy for help finishing your Ghost Gun.

As the federal law stands, individuals may legally manufacture certain types of firearms without needing to register as a firearms manufacturer. The caveat is that the individual who made the firearm may not be transfer or sale it.

Here’s the word from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (all of the fun stuff):

“Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the GCA provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms.”

Of course as with any government regulation, there are few more rules, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll steer clear of the complexity.

While some non-sporting Americans may picture the home manufacturing of firearms as a gruff old man in his backyard with a kiln and hammer, pounding out some rudimentary rifle – the process isn’t too complex, especially if finishing an Ar-15.

Adventurous firearms enthusiasts who have a DIY streak can log on to a number of sites at this moment and purchase what’s called an “80% lower” – you can even get a five pack if you’re feeling lucky.

The 80% lower is the lower receiver of an AR-15 that’s literally 80% complete. To take it up to 100%, you need a bit of machining skill and the self-confidence not to mess it up.

The most important part of the lower receiver is that it is what the ATF considers the actual firearm. It’s the part that must be serialized . . . if produced by a firearm’s manufacturer.

For the handy guy or gal, with the right tools, AR-15’s and other firearm types such as 1911’s can be completed in a garage with no serial numbers or any other type of government-required marks – or tracking, hence the name “Ghost Gun.”

For others who struggle to change their own oil or have to call Roadside Assistance when a wiper-blade goes bad, the ability to finish your own AR-15 was still attainable if they had a bit of help from a gunsmith or CNC shop.

Well . . . up until the ATF published their first new rule of the year, ATF 2015-1.

The new rule specifically prohibits any company or individual with manufacturing capabilities and tools (including a 3d Printer) from giving a hand to the less handy want-to-be Ghost Gunners.

Here is the exact ruling from the ATF that prevents unlicensed gunsmiths from completing Ghost Guns for customers:

Held, any person (including any corporation or other legal entity) engaged in the business of performing machining, molding, casting, forging, printing (additive manufacturing) or other manufacturing process to create a firearm frame or receiver, or to make a frame or receiver suitable for use as part of a “weapon … which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive,” i.e., a “firearm,” must be licensed as a manufacturer under the GCA; identify (mark) any such firearm; and maintain required manufacturer’s records.

Taking it even further, the ATF put restrictions of companies that possess equipment that could be used to complete a Ghost Gun:

Held further, a business (including an association or society) may not avoid the
manufacturing license, marking, and recordkeeping requirements of the GCA by allowing persons to perform manufacturing processes on blanks or incomplete firearms (including frames or receivers) using machinery, tools, or equipment under its dominion and control where that business controls access to, and use of, such machinery, tools, or equipment.

The above is targeting “build parties” where a group of people get together, for instance in a machine shop, and with professional guidance complete a manufacturing process.

If your next-door-neighbor has a “Stand and Fight” bumper sticker on his F150 and a drill press in his garage, it appears he could still give you a hand without having his door kicked in at 3 am.

For those with the callus-free hands who don’t live next to Lt. Dan, an option still exists (for now) that makes finishing an 80% lower as simple as plugging in a box and hitting a button – it’s called the Ghost Gunner and will start shipping as soon as a few manufacturing issues are sorted out . . . unless the Fun Police types up another new rule.

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Fast and Furious Crime Scene Photos

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained graphic crime scene photos taken at the site of a 2013 gang-style assault on a Phoenix, AZ, apartment building, including a close-up photo revealing the serial number of the AK-47 rifle used by the assailants.  As a result of Judicial Watch’s October 2, 2014, public records lawsuit, the weapon has been already traced to the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning program.  The photos were also produced by the Phoenix Police Department in response to this lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. City of Phoenix (No. CV2014- 012018)).

CLICK HERE FOR THE CRIME SCENE PHOTO GALLERY — WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES

According to press reports at the time of the assault, police investigating the shooting that left two wounded found an AK-47 assault rifle in the front passenger area of a vehicle that had crashed into a fence surrounding the apartment complex. Inside sources informed Judicial Watch at the time of the crime scene investigation that the AK-47 used in the assault had been provided to the assailants as part of the Obama-Holder Fast and Furious program. On October 16, 2014, Judicial Watch announced that, based upon information uncovered through its October 2 public records lawsuit, the U.S. Congress had confirmed that the rifle was tied to the Fast and Furious operation.  Attorney General Eric Holder has already admitted that guns from the Fast and Furious scandal are expected to be used in criminal activity on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border for years to come.

In an October 16 letter to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) to Deputy Attorney General James Cole detail:

Based on the serial number [1977DX1654] from the police report obtained by Judicial Watch and documents obtained during our Fast and Furious investigation, we can confirm that the assault rifle recovered in the vehicle on July 30, 2013, was purchased by Sean Christopher Stewart. Stewart pled guilty to firearms trafficking charges resulting from his involvement with Operation Fast and Furious … Stewart purchased this particular firearm on December 8, 2009, one of 40 that he purchased that day while under ATF surveillance.” [Emphasis in original]

According to the Phoenix Police Department report, ATF traced the firearm on July 31, 2013, the day after Phoenix police officers recovered it. Yet, over a full year has passed, and the Department has failed to notify the Committees … This lack of transparency about the consequences of Fast and Furious undermines public confidence in law enforcement and gives the impression that the Department is seeking to suppress information and limit its exposure to public scrutiny.

In addition, despite the fact that the crime scene photos obtained by Judicial Watch clearly revealed a serial number that would show that the AK-47 used in the commission of the crime was a Fast and Furious weapon, the City of Phoenix and Department of Justice failed to turn over the incriminating photos to Congress, despite longstanding requests for such information. According to Judicial Watch sources, investigators knew at the scene and subsequently that the AK-47 was a Fast and Furious weapon.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CRIME SCENE PHOTO GALLERY — WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES

Three weeks following the July 29, 2013, assault, four suspects were apprehended in a raid conducted jointly by Phoenix police detectives and investigators from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to press reports at the time “numerous rifles and handguns” were found when, “Detectives from the Phoenix Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations served federal search warrants.”

The presence of DHS investigators immediately raised questions because Phoenix was the central location of the ATF’s deadly Fast and Furious gunrunning operation. Operation Fast and Furious was a Justice Department/ Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program in which the Obama administration allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels in the hopes that the guns would end up at crime scenes, thereby advancing gun-control policies. Fast and Furious weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of other innocents in Mexico.

The failure to provide Congress with reports about the Phoenix crime scene is not the first time the Obama Justice Department has been accused of withholding Fast and Furious information. On June 28, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives over his refusal to turn over documents about why the Obama administration may have lied to Congress and refused for months to disclose the truth about the gunrunning operation.  It marked the first time in U.S. history a sitting Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress.

Separate Judicial Watch litigation for these documents, which had been subjected to an extraordinary executive privilege reelection season claim by President Obama, forced their release.  Attorney General Holder announced his surprise retirement two days after the federal court ruling that led to the disclosure of the documents and to President Obama’s abandoning all of his controversial executive privilege claims that had kept the documents secret for nearly three years.

“Another Obama administration Fast and Furious cover-up has been undone by Judicial Watch.  These crime scene photos graphically illustrate the legacy of President Obama and Eric Holder’s deadly Fast and Furious lies,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Even as the evidence and casualties mount, the Obama administration is still secreting information about its reckless program. These photos show the American people firsthand the bloody consequences when an out-of-control administration will not even admit – or correct – its own mistakes.”

Judicial Watch investigators are currently uploading the photos in their entirety.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CRIME SCENE PHOTO GALLERY — WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES

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