A group of Republican representatives hopes to block the ATF from gaining “extraordinary power over the firearm industry.”
Thirty-seven House members sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the ATF Thursday requesting the agencies rescind a proposed rule expanding the definition of what constitutes a firearm. The representatives argue the rule, which targets so-called ghost guns, is overly broad and pushes beyond the boundaries of the ATF’s authority.
“This proposed rule is alarming and would give the ATF extraordinary power over the firearm industry,” the Republicans said in the letter. “The proposed rule exceeds the ATF’s congressionally granted authority by creating definitions for terms and concepts that do not appear anywhere in the statute.”
President Joe Biden requested the proposed rule change earlier this year as part of his gun-control package. It would expand the official definition of a firearm to include far more unfinished parts, in an effort to require serialization at earlier points in a gun’s production. It would give the ATF more control over the firearms industry, as well as homemade gun-making, without the need to pass a new law through Congress.
Bob Gibbs, who represents Ohio’s 7th congressional district, headed up the effort and said the proposal is “outrageous” but not surprising. He said gun-control activists are trying to sidestep the legislative process to restrict guns.
“The left has been attempting to chip away at the Second Amendment for decades, only to be rebuked by the courts time and time again,” the group said. “When that happens, they turn to regulatory overreach to achieve their desired political goals. This proposal is another attempt to create such high regulatory compliance costs that the firearms industry will just give up.”
Other signers of the letter include House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Texas), and Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.). They warned the proposal would hamper Americans’ rights and gun manufacturers’ ability to innovate.
“These regulations hinder the development ability of manufacturers to produce new firearm designs or improve upon features of previously designed firearms,” the group said. “This proposed rule is just another example of the Biden administration’s attempt to eliminate law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights by furthering government overreach over the U.S. firearm industry.”
The Republicans connected the proposed rule with Biden’s nomination of gun-control activist David Chipman to lead the ATF. They said “firearm manufacturers and dealers should not be held hostage by the agency,” as Chipman’s confirmation hangs in the balance.
“We urge you to take action to correct this injustice immediately by withdrawing this proposed rule and appreciate your consideration of this important issue,” the Republicans said.