For those unaware, in September of 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF or BATFE) published a notice of proposed rulemaking to change the regulations in relation to the applications to make and transfer National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms for all fictitious entities (trusts, corporations, LLCs, partnerships…etc). You can find the proposed rule on Regulations.gov – ATF-41P. In the most simplistic terms, ATF proposed requiring that any individual that could control the fictitious entity submitting the application to make or transfer an NFA firearm would be required to submit a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) signature, photographs, and fingerprints.
Spearheading the Opposition to ATF-41P
On September 9, 2013, ATF stated that it would provide a ninety-day period for public comment that would end on December 9, 2013. See78 Fed. Reg. 55014. Under the law, the public was required to be provided 90 days to comment; however, as documented in our Comment, inter alia, ATF failed in providing the requisite 90 days. We published an article on ATF’s violation of the 90-day requirement. Nevertheless, even with the limited comment period, there were over 9500 comments submitted in opposition to ATF-41P. You can find many of the comments on the ATF-41P docket.
Although there were legislative attempts to prevent ATF from moving forward with ATF-41P, such as Amendment 320 to H.R. 2578 (Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016), unfortunately, it appears that such action came too late and that the Congress will move forward with an interim budget that will not include the Amendment.
Therefore, the last resort to challenge ATF’s overreach and violation of the law is a legal challenge.
But what overreach and violations of the law occurred? While ATF’s overreach and violations are voluminous and we don’t want to show all of our cards, our Comment and Supplemental Comment specify the majority of the issues that ATF will be forced to address on judicial review, if FICG® files suit, including:
The Second Amendment;
Issues of Federalism, including the Intrusion of State Law and Governance;
ATF Exceeded Its Statutory Authority;
ATF Failed to Distinguish Between Well-Structured Entities with Safeguards Against Misuse, on the one hand, and Entities Lacking Certain Safeguards
ATF’s Lack of Candor;
Underestimation of Cost of ATF-41P;
Procedural Irregularities Denied The Public A Meaningful Opportunity to Comment, including:
ATF Failed to Make Available the Underlying Studies and Information Upon Which It Purportedly Relied in Formulating Its Proposed Rule;
ATF Failed to Describe a Single Situation Illustrating the Problem It Purports to Address;
The Entire Rulemaking Seems to Rest on a False Premise;
ATF Provided Conflicting Information Regarding Implementation of Any New Rule; Thereby, Providing False Reassurance to Persons Filing Comments;
ATF Selectively Delayed Reviewing and Posting Comments Received;
ATF Distorted the Public Comment Process by Submitting Hearsay Information Via Proxies;
ATF’s Misleading of the Public and Frustration of the Public Participation; and
ATF Arbitrarily Refused to Include More than 1000 Submissions in the Public Docket.
Unfortunately, litigating a case against the U.S. Government is substantial, complex and requires competent counsel, who are versed in Administrative Law. At FICG®, we have attorneys that have dedicated, concentrated and focused their practice on the Second Amendment. Additionally, Attorney Tom Odom, worked for ten years in the District of Columbia handling Administrative and Regulatory law matters, until becoming a Law Professor, where he taught Administrative and Constitutional law and published three books on federal constitutional law.
As is demonstrated by our Comment and Supplemental Comment, our attorneys have the necessary experience and understanding of the issues surrounding ATF-41P to ensure that any challenge is properly litigated. But, we can’t do it without your support, as unlike the Government, we don’t have unlimited funds at our disposal.
In addition, ATF will determine when to publish any final rule in ATF-41P and attorneys will have limited time to respond prior to the purported effective date of the regulation. Without the resources to immediately begin work on a response, many of the issues raised in the filings with ATF will never be presented to courts for their consideration. A weak or “straw man” opposition could do more harm than good as demonstrated by some of the comments filed with ATF that seemed to concede strong arguments, invited increased regulation as long as certain special constituencies were exempt, and undercut our broader opposition.
We are therefore requesting donations to fund this litigation seeking to invalidate ATF-41P. We will need at a minimum $50,000 to properly litigate this matter. All donations will be held in our trust account and the money in trust will only be billed against, as work is performed in relation to this litigation. In the event that we are unable to attain the goal of $50,000 or do not file an action regarding ATF-41P, all money will be utilized for other pro-Second Amendment litigation or will be donated to a pro-Second Amendment Organization to ensure that our inalienable right to keep and bear arms is not encroached upon.
Mail donations to: Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., 934 E. High St., Pottstown, PA 19464; or,
Call our office at 888-202-9297.
When submitting your donation, please include a note or inform the staff that you are donating in relation to ATF-41P.
Disclaimer – Submission of a donation does not create an attorney-client relationship. By submitting any donation, you understand and agree that no attorney-client relationship is formed and that neither Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C. nor any of its divisions or attorneys have agreed or are obligated to represent you or provide you with any legal advice.