MSLF Battles to Ensure Clients are Heard

January 29, 2020 – Denver, Colorado – Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms (CKBA) today appealed a judge’s decision to deny its clients intervenor status in Syracuse v ATF, a case that could redefine the term “firearm” under federal law, arguing that excluding CKBA’s clients from the case will also exclude perspectives and legal arguments no one else will adequately present.   

The Center represents private citizens whose ability to build firearms for personal use could be impaired if the case is wrongly decided, as well as companies that produce and sell materials that firearms may be constructed from.  Petitioners seek to have these objects classified and regulated as if they were actual firearms.  

“The federal government will argue the case with its own interests in mind, not the broader interests of the individuals and business who will suffer direct harm if the case is incorrectly decided,” said Cody J. Wisniewski, Director of Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms. “The federal government does not have a personal stake in this case, nor does it have the obligation, incentive, or even track-record to argue in defense of individual’s natural and fundamental rights at issue in this case.”  

 Several progressive-run US cities and anti-gun groups earlier this year sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), claiming the ATF violated the Administrative Procedure Act by employing an objective test based on the actual manufacturing process involved to determine if an item is considered a “firearm” under the Gun Control Act of 1968.  

The objects at issue are often colloquially referred to as “receiver blanks,” “frame blanks,” “partially-manufactured frames,” “partially-manufactured receivers,” “80% frames,” “80% receivers,” “unfinished frames,” or “unfinished receivers.” While these objects vary widely, what they all have in common is that they are not “firearms” as defined by the Gun Control Act, nor can they be readily converted into firearms. 

Instead, just like a raw block of aluminum in the hands of a machinist, individuals can fully manufacture firearms from these non-firearm objects using their own experience, know-how, and machining equipment. Because they are not firearms, the ATF and the federal government lack any authority to regulate them as such.    

But these cities and gun control activists want to force the ATF to regulate raw materials of all kinds—materials that may possibly be used to manufacture a firearm in the future—simply because individuals, through their own knowledge, skill, and ingenuity, can manufacture them into firearms for personal use. 

CKBA filed this appeal on behalf of our clients, Zachary Fort, Frederick Barton, 80% Arms, and Firearms Policy Coalition, in an effort to ensure that the court hears the voice of everyday, self-sufficient Americans who exercise their right to legally build firearms for personal use, free from undue (and unconstitutional) government interference, surveillance, and regulatory control.  

Follow this link to read the filing.

Follow this link for a case summary.