New ATF Ruling

The ATF issued a new ruling on 8/15/08 that clarifies various issues relating to what is or is not considered manufacturing a firearm.
Evidently a gunsmith buying firearms, doing work to them, and then selling them counts as “manufacturing” and the gunsmith must be licensed as a manufacturer.
A gunsmith receiving firearms from individual customers, performing work on the gun, and returning it back to the customer need only be licensed as a dealer or gunsmith, not a manufacturer.
My Class III dealer friend is concerned that this might affect companies that do outsourced work like rebluing, hard chroming, etc. for gunsmiths (i.e. gunsmith receives gun from customer, sends gun off to be chromed, third-party company does the chroming, then sends it back to the gunsmith, who returns it to the customer). My reading of the ruling seems to indicate that this would not be a problem, as it’s not manufacturing a new gun.
However, a gunsmith buying up guns on the open market (rather than doing contract work for customers), modifying them, and then reselling them on the open market would count as manufacturing a new firearm. I can sort of see how this would make sense.

2 thoughts on “New ATF Ruling”

  1. My feeble mind says that you really should only need one “manufacturer” of a firearm. Everyone else involved in the process is either a manufacturer of parts or a service provider. Does a company that buys used cars and fixes them up for resell need to be licensed as an automobile manufacturer? Or even car dealers that do all kinds of modifications to even new cars before they sell them to you? Or any other product? It’s an everyday thing for people to buy old stuff and fix it up for resale.
    Once the firearm has been manufactured, it’s done been made. Anyone that comes along after that and modifies it, is just that- a “modifier” (or “gunsmith” in this example) and should not need a manufacturers license.
    Whoever it is that takes something that does not meet the legal definition of “firearm” and turns it into something that does… that person is the manufacturer.
    But what do I know?
    If the guy that buys up military surplus items and modifies them into something that requires him to be a manufacturer of firearms, well then… that means that they weren’t firearms before or he couldn’t have made firearms out of them. They already were firearms. So, we should be able to remove all kinds of import restrictions as long as the items are going to be worked on by a gunsmith/manufacturer.

  2. TheGunGeek: I agree. Your explanation makes sense.
    That said, I can partially see the logic behind requiring sub-contractors to have manufacturing licenses — if Company A machines the receivers, then sends them to Company B for coating (for example), and B then sends the guns back to A for sale through normal distributor/retail channels, I can see how both A and B would need manufacturers license, even if A is the only one listed as “the” manufacturer on the side of the gun. B is a sub-contractor that actually takes place in the manufacturing process of a new gun, and so the requirement actually makes some sense.
    I could understand the requirement that one hold a dealer and/or gunsmith license if they’re buying up guns, modifying them, and then re-selling them through retail channels. But requiring a manufacturing license? That seems somewhat silly.
    Personally, I think the whole concept of licenses is silly in the first place, but such is the world in which we live…

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