Late last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) sent out an open letter to all federally-licensed firearms dealers warning them of a new rule in effect which requires registration of “80 percent lowers” – and background checks to purchase them. Three states show us a path on how to respond.

For generations, Americans have been able to purchase firearms parts that can be manufactured into fully functioning firearms without serial numbers often referred to as “ghost guns” because they can’t be easily traced by the government.

In April of last year, the ATF announced a new rule based on an executive order sign by President Joe Biden requiring vendors to treat them like fully finished guns subject to unconstitutional federal gun regulations. That rule was finalized in August and later clarified in a December letter that it concerned any part that may be “readily completed,” which the agency described as:

“Each classification of a partially complete frame or receiver under this rule, whether sold alone or as part of a kit; therefore, even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are “frames” and “firearms” as defined in the GCA and its implementing regulations.”

Like President Trump’s bump stock ban in 2018, Biden’s new rule is unconstitutional in more ways than one. First, the Second Amendment specifically prohibits the federal government from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. Second, this infringement doesn’t even stem from Congress passing a law. Rather, it was carried out by unelected bureaucrats in an executive branch agency who received 211,564 comments during the rulemaking process.

The good news is, three states have already retroactively set the stage to nullify this new rule in practice and effect. 

In 2021, Montana enacted a law prohibiting state employees and resources from being used to enforce any federal gun laws or regulations implemented after January 2021. That same year, Arizona enacted a similar law that withholds local or state aid to enforce federal gun laws that lack a concurrent state policy. Meanwhile, Missouri passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act, prohibiting state cooperation in enforcing a wide range of federal gun control, past, president, and future.

The feds can’t enforce federal laws by themselves. The rely heavily on state cooperation and support. If the state refuses to participate, the feds are on their own. They can’t use any local police, SWAT teams, or city or county jails; holding them in other states will require an extradition, which can take weeks. Also, all planning for any raids or arrests will have to be done by the feds – and the feds alone.

And it’s an open secret they don’t have the manpower or resources to do that.

An article by The Trace noted that the enforcement of another unconstitutional regulation on pistol braces “will hinge on the efficiency of an obscure division at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that routinely misses its own performance benchmarks. And now, with millions of stabilizing braces estimated to be in circulation, some outside observers are warning the efforts to restrict them could flounder if federal regulators are unable to handle the workload.”

These states have shown the right path forward to undermine illegal federal gun laws and rules. Other states that haven’t done so already need to enact similar laws that prohibit any cooperation with the feds regarding federal gun control.

Trying to work through Congress to protect the right to keep and bear arms is ultimately a futile endeavor, because as both the Republicans under Trump and the Democrats led by Biden have demonstrated, they just simply bypass the legislative branch. When they do, the federal judiciary repeatedly fails to restrain them

The feds will likely continue this path of enacting whatever gun control measures it wants. But, if they can’t enforce them, then it is as if they were never written. 

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