April 27, 2021
News from Reeves & Dola, LLP
Democrat Senators Urge Biden to Reverse Export Reform for "Assault-Style Semiautomatic Rifles"

On Monday, April 19, 2021, three Democrat Senators sent a letter to President Biden urging him to reverse the export reforms implemented last year for firearms and ammunition. Focusing their attention on the so-called assault-style semiautomatic rifles, Senators Menendez, Leahy and Feinstein argue that such firearms, as well as so-called sniper rifles, "have no place being sold in this country or any other." The senators demand restoring export controls over these weapons back to the Department of State from the "less-rigorous controls of the Department of Commerce". "For U.S. foreign policy and national security, and for the sake of humanity, these weapons need to be controlled as lethal defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List."

Acting ATF Director Regina Lombardo to Step Down at End of Month

The current acting director of ATF, Regina Lombardo, will be retiring at the end of April. Associate Deputy Director Marvin Richardson will step into the acting role.

Leaked ATF Draft NPRM Firearm Frame or Receiver

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, a website published a 107-page document claimed to be leaked from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The document appears to be a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the definition of "Frame or Receiver" and Identification of Firearms, and is labeled "Predicisional/Deliberative." Although not officially confirmed as authentic, the document does have the same Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) and title as what is in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) submission details (submission date April 13, 2021, available here). According to the OIRA posting, this proposed rule is under review and a publication date is not yet provided. Therefore, we caution there will likely be changes from what is contained in this document. Nevertheless, it provides valuable insight into what direction ATF is likely heading.

For example, the leaked document reveals that ATF intends to expand significantly the scope of the GCA and NFA controls by broadening what constitutes a controlled "firearm." Extensive revisions to the term "frame or receiver" would capture partially completed frames or receivers, including the so-called "80%" market (also called "ghost guns") and so-called kits that are designed to or may be readily assembled, completed, converted, or restored to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive (yes, ATF proposes a new definition for "readily" as well). The proposed rulemaking would also require markings on certain "privately made firearms" (also a new defined term).

Recall that President Biden announced on April 8 that a new rule is forthcoming that would help stop the proliferation of "ghost guns" (see our Alert, dated April 8, 2021). This unofficial leaked document certainly appears consistent with this promise, and it also tracks questions ATF posed attendees at a recent closed meeting with certain invited licensed firearm manufacturers. Therefore, this is a document that should be reviewed, but bear in mind it is unofficial and unverified. Even if authentic, we do not know what version draft this is, and the official NPRM will likely have changes. But one can use this to help get ready for what is likely coming our way.

F.A.I.R. Trade Group Partners with SIA for New Conference in June

Registration is now open for the upcoming virtual import/export compliance conference, "Firearms and Ammunition: Addressing the Import and Export Challenges through Compliance." The conference is scheduled for four half days starting on June 22, 2021, and will include regulatory speakers from ATF, DDTC, BIS, and the Department of Justice. The agenda can be reviewed here, and registration information is available here.

The above alert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as legal advice. Receipt of this alert does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Questions about this alert may be directed to:

Johanna Reeves: 202-715-9941, [email protected]
About Reeves & Dola
Reeves & Dola is a Washington, DC law firm that specializes in helping clients navigate the highly regulated and complex world of manufacturing, sales and international trade of defense and commercial products. We have a deep understanding of the Federal regulatory process, and use our expertise in working with a variety of Federal agencies to assist our clients with their transactional and regulatory needs.
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