Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Report From This Week's Firearms Industry Conference

The 2011 Firearms Industry Importer, Exporter and Manufacturer Conference is currently being held in Reston, VA. The conference started yesterday and ends today. It is sponsored by the NSSF, the FAIR Trade Group (firearms importers), and the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association. This conference brings together experts from ATF with those in the firearms industry. The topics are heavy on compliance rulings, tax issues, and regulations.

I received an email yesterday with an update on what was discussed with emphasis on how it will impact you and me.

First, ATF made a public announcement of Ruling 2011-4. This ruling says that you can turn a pistol into a rifle and then back again into a pistol without violating the National Firearms Act. However, you still cannot turn a rifle into a pistol without ATF's permission or it will be considered a NFA item. This ruling is not yet up on the ATF website.

Another issue discussed was armor piercing ammunition. Most of the discussion centered on bronze/brass bullets such as those made by Elite Ammunition. The ATF is taking the position that these are armor piercing. However, the NSSF aggressively questioned this stance and ATF concedes that they may need to look at the policy, develop variance policies, and draw up a FAQ on it.

David Codrea, the National Gun Rights Examiner, has run a series of columns this week pushing the ATF Firearms Technology Branch on the potential redefinition of .50 BMG AR uppers as firearms. From my correspondent:
FTB stated that no reclassification has been made and no .50 uppers have been classified at all. Rather, one manufacturer has been requested to submit one of their uppers for evaluation. The reason given was "police concern", specifically foreign police agencies (or agency).
On a more technical issue related to the industry, brokers who never physically handle a firearm will, nonetheless, be required to have a FFL. This involves brokers who pay one party for a firearm, sell it to another, and never takes possession of it. This would also apply to firearms that never enter the United States if the broker was located in the U.S.

The ATF reiterated their position that all loaded large bore ammo (above .50 caliber unless exempted) is considered explosive for destructive devices. This means that if you have a .577 Nitro Express you are OK because it is considered a non-NFA Curio and Relic. However, if you have a Swiss Solothurn 20mm (see John Ross' Unintended Consequences), ammo for it is considered explosive.

Regarding the multiple sales of certain semiautomatic rifles in the Southwest border states, ATF is taking the position that rifles equipped with a "bullet button" will not be exempted from the demand letters. The announced requirement applies to semiautomatic rifles in a caliber greater than .22 that have detachable magazines. While California law holds that rifles equipped with a bullet button are not considered to have detachable magazines, ATF is choosing to ignore that.

Finally, it was reported that there was no real movement on a few other issues: the shotgun importability study, a Firearm Technology Branch procedures manual, and the elimination of the requirement for a Chief Law Enforcement Officer signoff on NFA items.

My thanks to Andy from CVAA for the report on the conference.

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