There was a significant event in the fight for gun rights last week. You know it was significant because actual gun rights groups like the Gun Owners Of America were talking about it and the NRA was predictably MIA. Ammoland broke the story...
On Thursday, federal agents raided the headquarters of Polymer80, one of the largest manufacturers of homemade firearm accessories.
Polymer80 sells, as the name would suggest, polymer frames that are incomplete and require additional steps to become a functional firearm. Because the frame is typically what bears the serial number, this means you can buy one of their "80% frames" and finish it yourself, creating the foundation for a firearm that will never have a registered serial number.
The way most guns work is that they are serialized by the manufacturer and that number forms a chain of custody that law enforcement can track. For example, if a Glock is recovered at the scene of a crime, the cops can go to Glock with the serial number and Glock can tell them who they sold the gun to. If that is a distributor, they will have an entry for that serial number in the acquisitions and distributions log (A&D) showing it coming in and then recording which FFL they sent it to. The receiving FFL logs the Glock into their A&D records when they get it and then again when it goes out to their customer. From that chain of custody, law enforcement can trace who the buyer of that Glock was.
With an "80%" receiver, for a handgun or an AR-15, there is no chain of custody. Polymer 80 can sell direct to a consumer without needing to go through an FFL and then the new owner can mill out the required areas, creating a complete firearm, and then buy the components to finish the gun. For a handgun it usually includes buying a barrel, a trigger and a slide plus slide completion kit. What is getting Polymer 80 in trouble is their "Buy Build Shoot" kit that has everything you need in one box with the weblink to a video showing how to complete the frame and assemble the firearm. I assume that Polymer80 has sold a ton of these and that makes the ATF SO MAD!
The same report linked above states that the ATF is hitting other manufacturers of 80% receivers:
The ATF did raid or show up at other companies that sell other kits that include 80% part kits, barrels, and slides that are not Polymer80. AmmoLand News sources inside the ATF say that the agency is now considering 80% kits with all the parts needed to finish a pistol as a firearm. None of the companies had any warning on the change to ATF’s regulations before actual agents showed up making attempts to retrieve customer information.
Clearly they intend to stamp out this part of the firearms industry. The only real reason to buy an 80% receiver is to avoid the paperwork, something I understand and support where legal. The Polymer 80 Build Buy Shoot kits are almost $600 and you have to assemble the gun, while you can buy a decent and reliable ready to go complete 9mm for under $400. It is a niche business that might be on the way out.
The ATF is already on record as trying to make AR pistols with stabilizing braces into NFA items, short-barreled rifles, that require a bunch of extra steps and cost for a product already legally owned by millions of gun owners. See Alphabet Bois At It Again for details.
So-called "ghost guns" which are simply incomplete firearms and AR pistols with stabilizing braces are low hanging fruit as a lot of gun owners don't know anything about them or understand the issues. Your average Joe Gun Owner with a home defense shotgun and maybe a deer rifle or revolver doesn't get caught up in the interpretative rules governing firearms at the fringe of what is allowed. Going after commonly owned handguns, which when stolen or sold illegally make up the vast majority of gun crimes in this country, would rile up people who own them but "ghost guns" sound scary.
Of course they are also easily messed with by re-interpreting the rules without having to pass new legislation. It was legal, now it isn't. Like magic! The rules are incredibly dumb, swapping the interchangeable parts of two legal firearms can make you a felon but that is the government for you, and especially our alphabet boi frens. People in government and people in law enforcement specifically seem to view regular citizens with a great deal of suspicion and Federal law enforcement especially so. The idea of people having an AR with a barrel 4" shorter than another AR is obviously cause for concern and a handgun that doesn't have a serial number is clearly more deadly than one with a serial number that was stolen and sold on the street.
The top brass at the ATF has been on a leash to an extent for the last four years. While Trump seemed too concerned with other issues to pay attention to gun rights, he could be bestirred on occasion. With a Harris-Biden administration, not only will they be unleashed, they will be encouraged to go after gun rights like never before.
These preliminary probing attacks and meetings with the new administration before Biden is even sworn in are sending a clear message that guns are going to be in the cross-hairs for the new administration.
Don't say you weren't warned and make use of the next five weeks judiciously.