Washington state attorney general plans for Firearms ‘assault weapon’ and ‘Bump Stock” ban

Ferguson, seen here at a September press conference, wants to raise age limits to buy guns as well as establish controls on certain semi-automatics and their magazines. (Photo: Washington Attorney General's office)


Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told local media he is up for a renewed push for a prohibition on “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

Ferguson, who unsuccessfully backed a similar move in 2016, told The Daily World last week that he would like to see the ban legislation succeed. “We are bringing back legislation that will outlaw the sale of assault rifles and high capacity magazines,” he said. “This would limit magazine size to 10 rounds maximum.”

Citing a “duty to protect the public” last year, Ferguson requested legislation that largely mirrored California’s long-standing assault weapon ban enacted in 1989 and enhanced several times over the years. The resulting bills, SB 5050 and HB 3087, never made it out of committee.

To reinforce his point, Ferguson issued a 26-page white paper last October urging changes that Washington policymakers could consider to change firearms access in the state. Among the increased regulations advocated were several steps that approximated the state’s Extreme Risk Protective Orders, which were adopted by a voter referendum in the general election.

Besides the reach for an assault weapon ban and magazine cap, Ferguson said last week he would like to see movement on a bump stock ban — which Gov. Jay Inslee supports — as well as to raise the minimum age for gun purchases in the state to 21.

“In this state if you want to buy an assault rifle you can walk into a (sporting goods store) and if you’re 18 you can walk right out with one,” Ferguson said. “If you want to buy a handgun, you have to be 21 and go through a waiting period before you take it home. It makes no sense.”

Murder Rates Before and After Gun Bans

Every place that has been banned guns (either all guns or all handguns) has seen murder rates go up. You cannot point to one place where murder rates have fallen, whether it’s Chicago or D.C. or even island nations such as England, Jamaica, or Ireland.

For an example of homicide rates before and after a ban, take the case of the handgun ban in England and Wales in January 1997 (source here see Table 1.01 and the column marked “Offences currently recorded as homicide per million population,” UPDATED numbers available here).  After the ban, clearly homicide rates bounce around over time, but there is only one year (2010) where the homicide rate is lower than it was in 1996.  The immediate effect was about a 50 percent increase in homicide rates.  Firearm homicide rate had almost doubled between 1996 and 2002 (see here p. 11).   The homicide and firearm homicide rates only began falling when there was a large increase in the number of police officers during 2003 and 2004.   Despite the huge increase in the number of police, the murder rate still remained slightly higher than the immediate pre-ban rate.

2016 deadliest in five years for police officers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Nassau County deputy was one of 135 officers killed in the line of duty in the United States this year — a number that marks the highest total since 177 officers were killed in 2011.

Nassau County Deputy Eric Oliver was died just before Thanksgiving when he was hit by a car while chasing a suspect across a highway.

Of those killed in 2016, seven were Florida officers, including one K-9 officer, according to a report released Thursday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

“Every single time an officer falls, our communities lose so much more than a public servant. We lose a friend, a family members, a loved one… but most of all, we lose heroes who were willing to sacrifice everything to keep us safe,” said Coconut Creek Police Chief Butch Arenal, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “That kind of sacrifice isn’t common, but it’s the only reason we become law enforcement officers. These numbers represent true tragedy.”

That tragedy is also affecting the recruitment of new officers, said Florida Police Chiefs Association executive director Amy Mercer.

“We’re hearing from family members of law enforcement officers that they scared. They’re concerned for the life of their family member being in the law enforcement profession,” Mercer said. “When you see a police officer, go up and thank them and let them know you are out their supporting them.”


Firearms industry adds over 20,000 jobs

The gun industry added 24,763 jobs in 2015 for a nationwide total of 287,986, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


That’s an increase of nearly 10% from the year before in manufacturing and retail jobs for guns, ammunition and related supplies, like hunting gear.


Job growth in the last few years has been “nothing short of remarkable,” said the NSSF, which reported a job increase of 73% since 2008.


The NSSF, the gun industry group based in Newtown, Connecticut, said the jobs average $50,180 in annual wages and benefits. Many of these jobs are located in rural areas and small towns where cost of living is relatively low.


The top states for gun industry jobs are Texas, with about 21,386, followed by California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Missouri.


The NSSF said the “economic impact” from revenue, wages, benefits and taxes totaled $49.3 billion last year, an increase of nearly 15% from 2014. This is a broad measure that includes revenue, wages, benefits and taxes related to gun sales.


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Who Needs a Federal Firearms License to Sell Firearms?

Who needs a Federal license to deal in firearms?
Under federal law, any person who engages in the business of dealing in firearms
must be licensed.
What does it mean to be “engaged in the business of dealing in
Under federal law, a person engaged in the business of dealing in firearms is a per-
son who “devotes time, attention and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course
of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the
repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.”
Under federal law, conducting business “with the principal objective of livelihood
and profit” means that “the intent underlying the sale or disposition of firearms is
predominantly one of obtaining livelihood and pecuniary gain, as opposed to other
intents, such as improving or liquidating a personal firearms collection.”
Consistent with this approach, federal law explicitly exempts persons “who make
occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a
personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection
of firearms.”
Has ATF defined what it means to be “engaged in the business” of
dealing in firearms?
ATF has published regulatory definitions for the terms “engaged in the business”
and “principal objective of livelihood and profit.” ATF’s regulation defining when a
person is “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms is identical to the lan-
guage of the statute, though in the definition of “dealer,” ATF clarified that the term
includes “any person who engages in such business or occupation on a part-time

Liberty Ammunition has won more than $15 million in a patent infringement lawsuit against the federal government

Liberty Ammunition filed suit against the Department of Defense in 2011, claiming that the Department of the Army used Liberty’s trade secrets to produce “enhanced performance rounds” for military rifles that were nearly identical to a bullet Liberty patented. The Army has been using lead-free bullets for several years produced by other manufacturers working under military contract.

U.S. Federal Court of Claims Judge Charles F. Lettow filed a decision Dec. 19 in which he found the federal government had infringed on Liberty’s patent for its copper-core, steel-tipped ammunition. Lettow ordered the government to pay two levels of damages, the first being a $15.6 million lump payment. The government

was also ordered to pay a 1.4-cent royalty on every bullet it purchases and receives for use. It will make those payments until Liberty’s patent expires in 2027.

Founded by Manatee County resident and inventor P.J. Marx, Liberty Ammunition produces ammunition for the U.S. military and foreign militaries allies and markets personal defense and hunting rounds through a small number of distributors and dealers. It also sells law enforcement ammunition.

Liberty CEO George Phillips welcomed the judge’s decision.

“We feel we’re totally vindicated that PJ Marx is the inventor of the enhanced performance round and that the court was absolutely clear in its decision,” he told the Bradenton Herald.

The government has until Feb. 19 to appeal Lettow’s decision.

According to the narrative in court documents, the Army had been working to develop lead-free ammunition since 1995 in an effort to cut down on lead pollution where the Army’s bullets are used. Traditional bullets are constructed with lead cores.

The Army and its ammunition developers made several unsuccessful attempts. Lead-free bullets taken into combat in the 1990s failed in many instances to incapacitate opposing combatants, passing through their bodies without fragmenting into shrapnel as designed. Post-combat reports cited in court documents said those combatants were often able to return fire after being shot.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2015/01/11/5574467/bradenton-ammunition-maker-wins.html#storylink=cpy




firearms payment processing

80 Percent Receiver Clarification

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a 14-point clarification on what does and what does not make an 80 percent lower receiver, and reminds people that they’re legal to buy.

1. Is ATF aware of the receiver blanks, commonly referred to as 80% receivers?
ATF routinely collaborates with the firearms industry and law enforcement to monitor new technologies and current manufacturing trends that could potentially impact the safety of the public.
2. What is an “80%” or “unfinished” receiver?
“80% receiver,” “80% finished,” “80% complete,” “unfinished receiver” are all terms referring to an item that some may believe has not yet reached a stage of manufacture that meets the definition of firearm frame or receiver found in the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). These are not statutory terms or terms ATF employs or endorses.
3. Are “80%” or “unfinished” receivers illegal?
Receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under the GCA. The ATF has long held that items such as receiver blanks, “castings” or “machined bodies” in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and un-machined have not reached the “stage of manufacture” which would result in the classification of a firearm per the GCA.

See comparison examples:




4. Are there restrictions on who can purchase receiver blank?
The GCA does not impose restrictions on receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm.”
5. When does a receiver need to have markings and/or serial numbers?
Receivers that meet the definition of a “firearm” must have markings, including a serial number. See 27 CFR § 478.92 (Firearm manufacturers marking requirements).
6. Can functioning firearms made from receiver blanks be traced?
ATF successfully traces crime guns to the first retail purchaser in most instances. ATF starts with the manufacturer and goes through the entire chain of distribution to find who first bought the firearm from a licensed dealer.  Because receiver blanks do not have markings or serial numbers, when firearms made from such receiver blanks are found at a crime scene, it is usually not possible to trace the firearm or determine its history, which hinders crime gun investigations jeopardizing public safety.
7. Have firearms made from unmarked receiver blanks been recovered after being used in a crime?
Yes, firearms that began as receiver blanks have been recovered after shooting incidents, from gang members and from prohibited people after they have been used to commit crimes.
8. Are some items being marketed as non-firearm “unfinished” or “80%” receivers actually considered firearms?
Yes, in some cases, items being marketed as unfinished or “80%” receivers do meet the definition of a “firearm” as defined in the GCA. Persons who are unsure about whether an item they are planning to buy or sell is considered a firearm under the GCA should contact ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch (FTB).



Manufacturing & Licensing


9. What is ATF doing in regard to people making firearms?
There are no federal restrictions on an individual making a firearm for personal use, as long as it does not violate the GCA or National Firearms Act (NFA).

10. What is the National Firearms Act (NFA)?
The NFA imposes a tax on the making, transfer or import of certain firearms recognized to present a greater risk to public safety. The law also requires the registration of all NFA firearms as defined in title 26 USC 5845(a):


(1) a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
(2) a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
(3) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
(4) a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
(5) any other weapon, as defined in subsection (e);
(6) a machinegun;
(7) any silencer (as defined in section 921 of title 18, United States Code); and
(8) a destructive device.
(Under the NFA the term “firearm” does not include an antique firearm or any device (other than a machinegun or destructive device) which, although designed as a weapon, the [Attorney General] finds by reason of the date of its manufacture, value, design, and other characteristics is primarily a collector’s item and is not likely to be used as a weapon.
11. Can an individual make large quantities of firearms and sell them?
If an individual is “engaged in the business” (defined below) as a manufacturer or seller of firearms then that person must obtain a federal firearms license.  In addition, manufacturers have a variety of specific responsibilities under the Gun Control Act, such as including a serial number and other markings on all firearms.
Under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a)(21)(A), the term “engaged in the business” means— as applied to a manufacturer of firearms, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to manufacturing firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the firearms manufactured.
12. Can anyone make firearms and sell them?
With certain exceptions, and subject to any state law that might apply, as long as an individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, he or she can make a firearm for personal use. If an individual wants to manufacture and sell firearms, he or she is required to obtain a license, and mark each firearm manufactured in accordance with 27 CFR 478.92. [18 U.S.C. 923(i), 26 U.S.C. 5822]
13. Who can obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL)?
ATF will approve a properly executed application if the applicant:
  • Submits fingerprint cards;
  • Submits a frontal view photograph;
  • Is 21 years of age or older;
  • Is not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce;
  • Has not willfully violated the GCA or its regulations;
  • Has not willfully failed to disclose material information or willfully made false statements concerning material facts in connection with his application;
  • Has premises for conducting the business
  • The applicant certifies that:
    • the business to be conducted under the license is not prohibited by State or local law in the place where the licensed premises is located;
    • within 30 days after the application is approved the business will comply with the requirements of State and local law applicable to the conduct of the business;
    • the business will not be conducted under the license until the requirements of State and local law applicable to the business have been met;
    • the applicant has sent or delivered a form to the chief law enforcement officer where the premises is located notifying the officer that the applicant intends to apply for a license; and
    • secure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place in which firearms are sold under the license to persons who are not licensees (“secure gun storage or safety device” is defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(34)).
[18 U.S.C. 923(d)(1), 27 CFR 478.47(b)]
Under federal law, an application shall be approved if an applicant for a federal firearms license or a manufacturing license meets all of the licensing requirements and criteria.
14. How does one apply for a Federal Firearms License?
Submit ATF Form 7 (5310.12), Application for License, with the appropriate fee in accordance with the instructions on the form to ATF.

DOJ knew Operation Choke Point Negatively Affected Legitimate Gun Dealers

Report says DOJ knew Operation Choke Point negatively affected legitimate businesses

T he Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. eliminated from its documentation lists of what has been termed “high-risk” merchant types. The move is seen as a response to the controversy over the U.S. federal government’s Operation Choke Point program that allegedly targeted businesses unfairly by denying them the ability to process transactions electronically.

On July 28, 2014, the FDIC said it was clarifying its role in supervising relationships between merchants and their payment processors. (This FDIC action was mentioned briefly in a sidebar to our lead article, “Operation Choke Point draws fire from Congress, industry,” published Aug. 11, 2014, issue 14:08:01, which was going to press when this news broke. This follow-up story provides further details.)

“FDIC guidance and an informational article contained lists of examples of merchant categories that had been associated by the payments industry with higher-risk activity when the guidance and article were released,” the agency said. “The lists of examples of merchant categories have led to misunderstandings regarding the FDIC’s supervisory approach to TPPPs [third-party payment processors], creating the misperception that the listed examples of merchant categories were prohibited or discouraged.”

The FDIC stated that the list contained various types of telemarketing or e-commerce categories, with businesses in those categories associated with higher-risk activity. The agency defined higher-risk activity as that which could be subject to “complex or varying legal and regulatory environments, such as those that may be legal only in certain states; those that may be prohibited for certain consumers, such as minors; those that may be subject to varying state and federal licensing and reporting regimes; and those that may result in higher levels of complaints, returns, or chargebacks.”

Additionally, the FDIC claimed the lists were “incidental to the primary purpose of the guidance, which was to describe the risks associated with financial institutions’ relationships with TPPPs, and to provide guidance to insured institutions on appropriate risk management for relationships with TPPPs.” The FDIC’s lists of “high-risk” merchant categories reportedly included firearms and ammunition, adult entertainment, check cashing, and payday lending businesses.

A ‘no choking’ matter

Operation Choke Point was launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in the spring of 2013. The program seeks to “choke off” high-risk businesses’ access to electronic payments by mandating that payment processors terminate that access; by year’s end the DOJ reportedly issued over 50 subpoenas to banks and payment processors to force them to terminate processing relationships with certain businesses.

In May 2014, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform headed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., released a report entitled The Department of Justice’s “Operation Choke Point”: Illegally Choking Off Legitimate Businesses? that characterizes the program as a strong-arm tactic against financial service providers – comply or be investigated themselves.

“The initiative is predicated on the claim that providing normal banking services to certain merchants creates a ‘reputational risk’ sufficient to trigger a federal investigation,” the report said. “Acting in coordination with Operation Choke Point, bank regulators labeled a wide range of lawful merchants as ‘high-risk’ – including coin dealers, firearms and ammunition sales, and short-term lending. Operation Choke Point effectively transformed this guidance into an implicit threat of a federal investigation.”

The report also charges that the DOJ is aware that its program is negatively impacting legitimate, legally operating businesses. “Internal memoranda on Operation Choke Point acknowledge the program’s impact on legitimate merchants,” the report said. “Senior officials informed Attorney General Eric Holder that as a consequence of Operation Choke Point, banks are exiting entire lines of business deemed ‘high risk’ by the government.”

According to the report, the DOJ does not have the legal authority to force processors to comply with Operation Choke Point dictates. By law, the subpoena power is for use in pursuing “civil penalties against entities that commit fraud against banks, not private companies doing legal business,” the report said. In fact, the report alleges that the DOJ has “radically and unjustifiably expanded” its authority to target high-risk businesses via processors.

Operation Choke Point apparently used the FDIC’s high-risk merchant lists as a way to force processors to comply or face federal probes.”Suddenly, doing business with a ‘high-risk’ merchant is sufficient to trigger a subpoena by the Department of Justice,” the report said. “Banks are put in an unenviable position: discontinue longstanding, profitable relationships with fully licensed and legal businesses, or face a potentially ruinous lawsuit by the Department of Justice.”

Vicarious liability

The Electronic Transactions Association sponsored a July 2014 report by the NERA Economic Consulting firm that advocates for industry self regulation as the most effective and efficient means of weeding out fraudulent merchants. In Economic Effects of Imposing Third-Party Liability on Payment Processors, Jeffrey A. Eisenach Ph.D. argued that the financial services industry already has a strong economic incentive to ensure against fraudulent activity.

Eisenach stated that the cost of chargebacks have caused processors to “internalize” fraud risk management. “Thus, processors already have strong incentives to monitor merchant conduct and to reflect the costs of high levels of consumer dissatisfaction back onto the responsible merchants through higher reserve accounts or the threat of termination,” he wrote.

Eisenach believes that the DOJ is undermining its own efforts by imposing third-party liability, also called “vicarious liablity,” on payment processors. He said the “imposition of vicarious liability on payment processors through Operation Choke Point is generating significant economic costs while generating little or no apparent benefits.”

Eisenach added that federal regulators and processors are ultimately in alignment about the need to eliminate “bad actors” from the economy. But he believes industry self-regulation is a more effective means to that end, as it doesn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

“Industry self-regulation avoids the additional costs of third-party liability to processors and therefore does not distort the market or reduce competition by driving out important lawful merchants,” Eisenach said.

firearms payment processing

Gun Store Sued For Selling Guns

Dawn Nguyen was sentenced to 16 months in prison Monday after pleading guilty last month to falsifying firearms forms in June 2010 at a Gander Mountain store Rochester, New York. There she was accompanied by William Spengler, who wasn’t allowed by purchase a gun because he had previously been convicted of killing his 92-year-old grandmother with a hammer.

Nguyen paid $1,425 for two firearms, a semi-automatic rifle and a shotgun that Spengler eventually would use.

On Christmas Eve 2012, Spengler, 61, shot and killed his sister before he torched the home they lived in. When West Webster, New York firefighters responded, Spengler began shooting, killing two firefighters, Tomasz Kaczowka and Michael Chiapperini, and wounding two others, Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter.

A day after Nguyen, now 24, was sentenced, the firefighters and surviving family members are alleging in a lawsuit filed in New York state court that the Minnesota-based Gander Mountain, the nation’s largest outdoors and sportsman store, should have known the buyer was a straw purchaser, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The litigation could be far reaching given the size of the retailer, which has drawn the backing of gun control advocates. The families are being represented by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a pro-gun control group.

In a joint statement, the plaintiffs said they first believed this was “yet another random act of violence.”

“But as time went by, new and very troubling facts emerged,” the plaintiffs statement continued. “These facts suggest that the loss we have endured could have been avoided. If only the store had acted responsibly.”

The statement went on to assert the families respect the Second Amendment, and asserted some families are gun owners.

“But, we also believe that companies who make it their business to sell guns must do so in a responsible and lawful manner,” the statement continued. “And when sellers fall short in their responsibility, they should be held accountable.”

A spokesman for Gander Mountain told the Star-Tribune the company had been forthcoming in the investigation and is committed to safety.

“We will vigorously defend ourselves in this matter,” spokesman Jess Myers said.

The suit claims the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) warned gun dealers that indicators of a straw purchase include multiple firearms being bought at once or more than one person entering the store together and paying with cash, which plaintiffs claim the store’s staff should have known.

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Firearms applications surge, swamp registration system

WASHINGTON — A record surge in recent firearms production and transactions have swamped the federal government’s automated registration system for select weapons, including machine guns.

In a notice earlier this month to the firearms industry, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was temporarily suspending parts of its computerized system to shore up capacity in part to process the required registration and transfer of National Firearms Act covered weapons, which also include silencers, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and some explosive devices.

Between 2005 and 2013, firearms act-related applications “skyrocketed by more than 380%” to nearly 200,000, according to the April 16 memo issued by ATF Deputy Assistant Director Marvin Richardson. The surge has contributed to a backlog of more than 70,000 applications.

Richardson’s memo states that the ATF is “immediately” hiring 15 people to assist with the application processing and deploying 15 current employees to the task.

The application deluge tracks a record annual increase in overall firearm production to more than 8.5 million guns in 2012, the most recent year for which the ATF collects such data. In 2011, there were 6.5 million firearms produced.

The increase was aided by a spike in the manufacture of rifles and pistols, continuing a trend that has been highlighted by industry representatives for the past several years.

“We have seen dramatic, unprecedented … growth in the firearms and ammunition industry as the direct result of consumer demand for our products in the last five years,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade association, said on its website. “Not surprisingly, growth has placed added demand on the (ATF’s) Office of Enforcement Programs and Services.

“Today, the office simply does not have the funding or personnel it needs to serve the industry and, by extension, our customers.”

The foundation estimated that the ATF’s office needed $10 million in additional funding to “provide the level of service our industry needs to remain in compliance with federal law.”

According to ATF records, a total of 512,790 machine guns were registered across the country in 2014, more than 571,000 silencers, 2.2 million so-called destructive devices (which include grenades and other explosives), 137,201 short-barreled rifles and 131,951 short-barreled shotguns.

The automated ATF processing system was launched in 2013, but grew exponentially from 673 users last year to 10,000 today.

“Since January 2014, approximately 50% of firearms act applications have been submitted via” the automated system, Richardson said in the memo. “This surge in demand has created the need to temporarily scale back … submissions while the system is enhanced to handle greater capacity in the future.”

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