Industry News: ATF Proposes Extension of Form 6
By Robert M. Hausman

In response to a petition the F.A.I.R. Trade Group filed in August 2010, ATF has published a proposed rule to extend the validity period of the Form 6 Import Permit from one to two-years.

In their petition they cited the benefits that would impact both industry (reducing the uncertainty for long lead-time deals) and ATF (reduced the work-load of examiners handling multiple renewal permit applications). ATF has adopted their reasoning as the basis for the extension.

The ATF regulations do not specify a validity period for the Form 6 permit. However, because the Form 6 permit defines the validity period as 12-months from the approval date, ATF’s proposed rule, if adopted, will result in a new Form 6 revised to reflect the new period of validity for importation as two years from the approval date.

Amendment Proposed to ATF Administrative Hearings

The Department of Justice is proposing to amend the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regarding administrative hearings held as part of firearms license proceedings.

This proposed rule clarifies that such hearings are held in an informal setting and that persons requesting a hearing will be afforded the opportunity to submit facts, arguments, offers of settlement, or proposals of adjustment for review and consideration.

The proposed regulations are intended to ensure that federal firearms licensees and persons applying for a federal firearms license are familiar with the hearing process relative to the denial, suspension, or revocation of a firearms license, or imposition of a civil fine.

As indicated above, the regulations provide certain information regarding hearings relative to firearms license proceedings, e.g., who can request a hearing, where the hearing is held, and that the person requesting a hearing is entitled to representation. ATF believes that other aspects of the hearing process should be clarified in the regulations.

For example, hearings are informal in nature and adherence to civil court rules and procedures is not required. In addition, persons who request a hearing have an opportunity at that time for the submission and consideration of facts, arguments, offers of settlement, or proposals of adjustment.

These provisions are being incorporated into the proposed regulations. The proposed regulations are intended to ensure that federal firearms licensees and applicants for a federal firearms license are familiar with the hearing process relative to the denial, suspension, or revocation of a firearms license, or imposition of a civil fine.

Federal Judge: Maryland Carry Permit Provision Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Maryland has ruled that state residents no longer must show they have a good reason to carry a handgun outside their home, declaring a key provision of the state’s gun-control laws unconstitutional.

Maryland officials in the liberal state said they are seeking a stay and will appeal the decision.

U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg focused on the portion of Maryland law that requires residents to show they have a “good and substantial reason” to carry a gun, such as a “precaution against apprehended danger.” Legg found that the requirement, in addition to background checks, was too broad and said it violates the Second Amendment.

“The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home,” Legg wrote in a 23-page ruling. He added that the requirement for issuing a handgun permit amounts to a “rationing system” to limit the number of guns carried outside the home. “The law impermissibly infringes the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment,” he wrote.

The case centered on a man denied a handgun permit in 2009. He had been a victim of a home break-in by his drug crazed son-in-law. He then was granted a handgun permit. But several years later the renewal of his permit was denied.

He appealed the denial and the Handgun Permit Review Board ruled that he had “not demonstrated a good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport a handgun as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger…”

The judge’s decision came in response to a lawsuit the man filed. His decision only upended the “good and substantial reason” requirement.

More Than 2,000 FFLS Added Since Jan. 2010

According to data collected from ATF, the number of Type 01 (defined as Dealer in Firearms) Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs) in the United States increased from 47,411 in January 2010 to 48,987 in February 2012.

Additionally, the number of Type 02 FFLs (defined as Pawnbroker in firearms) increased from 6,712 in January 2010 to 7,171 in February 2012.

SAF Wins Victory in Mass. Case

A Federal District Court Judge in Massachusetts has granted summary judgment in a Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) case challenging that state's denial of firearms licenses to permanent resident aliens.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodcock concluded that "the Massachusetts firearms regulatory regime as applied to the individual plaintiffs, contravenes the Second Amendment."

The case involves two Massachusetts residents, Christopher Fletcher and Eoin Pryal, whose applications for licenses to possess firearms in their homes for immediate self-defense purposes were denied under a state law that does not allow non-citizens to own handguns. SAF was joined in the case by Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc. and the two individual plaintiffs. The case is Fletcher v. Haas.

In his 41-page ruling, Judge Woodcock wrote, "The Massachusetts firearms regulatory regime, as applied to Fletcher and Pryal, does not pass constitutional muster. The possibility that some resident aliens are unsuited to possess a handgun does not justify a wholesale ban."

Microstamping Halted in New York

New York gun owners finally have something to celebrate – a rare double victory in the Empire State.

The New York state budget was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and it eliminated CoBIS, the costly state ballistic identification database that wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. The final budget bill also struck a microstamping provision that had been included in an earlier Assembly version of the state budget.

After the state Assembly passed microstamping earlier this session, the Senate Codes Committee moved S675C, by state Senator Jose Peralta (D-13), to the Senate Rules Committee, making it unlikely a hearing would be held on it this session. Undaunted, anti-gun Assemblymen inserted a budget provision that included microstamping in the Assembly budget, but thankfully this backdoor attempt failed.

Justice Dept. Reviewing State Self-Defense Laws

Anti-gun U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) has called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the “Stand Your Ground” laws potentially at issue in the case of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The law, which is on the books in close to two dozen states, has been criticized as a “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later” law because it gives individuals significant latitude to use deadly force “whenever they feel threatened”, according to Schumer.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Schumer asked the Obama administration to probe whether “these laws are creating more violence than they are preventing” and “whether potential murders/manslaughters are going unprosecuted because these laws place unintended additional burdens on local police and prosecutors that encourage dismissals of otherwise problematic cases.”

These laws seem to be encouraging vigilantism by allowing individuals to use deadly force as a first resort. We need to investigate these laws to see if they are causing local law enforcement to let violent crimes go unprosecuted,” Schumer said.

Overall, 23 states now have some type of law that now lessen an individual’s “duty to retreat” from a confrontation when out in public, thanks to the work of the National Rifle Association.

Schumer said these “Stand Your Ground” laws seem to cause situations to escalate into fatal incidents unnecessarily. In his letter, he cited a report by the Orlando Sentinel chronicling that in the five months after the law was passed in Florida, that there were at least 13 shootings in Central Florida where self-defense was claimed. But only in one of these incidents was the person who was shot actually in possession of a weapon.

Schumer also expressed concern that, as may be the case in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, local law enforcement too often errs on the side of not prosecuting someone if a “Stand Your Ground” defense may apply. Schumer said this burden on state and local prosecutors may be causing violent crimes to go unpunished. Schumer added, “These laws seem to create more violence than they prevent.”

Schumer’s letter is part of the national campaign by anti-gun groups, the national media, and even President Obama, to repeal expanded self-defense laws and to return to the common law duty of retreating from an encounter when outside the home.

The Trayvon Martin incident is also being used by the anti’s to try to stop national concealed carry from becoming law. The Brady Campaign is now calling George Zimmerman, “NRA’s Vision for America.” The Campaign mis-labels national reciprocity legislation as it states “The proposed George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Acts (S. 2213 and S. 2188), would force virtually every state to allow Zimmerman, and dangerous people like him, to legally carry loaded and hidden handguns in our communities. Imagine that: "George Zimmermans" walking your streets. Armed and dangerous. That's the gun lobby's vision for America.”

Brady Campaign President Dan Gross issued the following statement in response to the shooting of Martin by Zimmerman, a concealed carry permit holder who was armed with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol: "Make no mistake: This tragic shooting represents the National Rifle Association's vision for America. The NRA's vision is an America that looks just like Florida, where it's easy for criminals and dangerous people to get, carry, and use guns. The NRA wants us to be a nation without any gun laws, a nation where just about anybody can get a gun and take it anywhere. Their leaders and spokespeople use fear, paranoia and misleading notions of self-defense to justify flooding our streets with armed and violent people, and the result is more tragedies like Trayvon's.”

Canada Abolishes Long Gun Registry

The Canadian Senate has voted 50-27 to abolish the long gun registry. Bill C-19 received unanimous support from Conservative Senators, and some support from Liberals. The bill had previously passed the House of Commons. It has become the law of the land in early April, with the Royal Assent of Canada’s Governor-General.

The bill does not change Canada’s registration system for handguns, which has been in effect since the 1930s. Nor does it change the registration system for certain long guns classified as “prohibited” or “restricted” weapons. Likewise unchanged is Canada’s complicated and burdensome system for licensing gun owners, which was created by a Liberal government in the 1990s.

Venezuela Suspends Gun Imports for 1 Year

Venezuela has established a moratorium on importing guns for sale to the general public, while banning the marketing of armaments reportedly for “public safety” issues.

The ban which went into effect February 29th, will last at least one year. Exempt from the import ban are state security agencies, the armed forces and duly-registered security firms.

The import suspension is accompanied by other measures, such as a national amnesty to allow those to register firearms they hold. Also contemplated is a control mechanism to allow arms and ammunition to be traced.

The ban also affects local retailers who will no longer be able to sell firearms while the ban is in effect. As an added consequence of the ban, no new gun licenses will be issued while the ban is in effect.

Terry Family Files $25M Claim Against ATF

The family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against the Bureau of ATF claiming Terry was killed by AK-47 type firearms that were knowingly sold under the Fast and Furious gun-running probe to a straw purchaser for drug cartels.

Fox News notes the 65-page complaint alleges ATF wrongdoing, “ATF’s failures were not only negligent but in violation of ATF’s own policies and procedures,” the complaint states.

The family has also filed a claim against the Lone Wolf Trading Company, seeking unspecified damages for negligence in selling the arms to the purchaser and aiding and abetting in Mexican drug cartels’ conduct.

The claim says Lone Wolf knowingly sold “hundreds of weapons” to various straw purchasers. The family is seeking a jury trial.

The government has six months to respond or the Terry family will file a suit for the $25 million.

According to the claim, Terry was killed with a firearm traced to a straw purchaser for Mexican drug cartels in Arizona who the ATF knew about and allowed to deliver the weapons to the cartels.

“The murder of agent Terry and other acts of violent crimes were the natural consequence of ATF’s decision to let dangerous weapons designed to kill human beings ‘walk’ into the hands of violent drug-trafficking gangs,” the complaint reads.

In a second claim filed against Lone Wolf Trading Co., the Terry’s say the company should have recognized the illegal and risky nature of the purchases, but it instead ignored its legal obligation under federal and state law to refuse illegal firearm sales.

Three Other Agencies Knew Fast & Furious

In another development, the former chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Tucson says three other federal government agencies knew of the operation and some tried to stop it.

Tony Coulson, the DEA’s agent-in-charge of Southern Arizona during Fast and Furious, says many federal field agents knew the ATF was walking guns to Mexico, but supervisors told them to back off when they objected.

The DEA, the FBI and ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) all played roles in the investigation.

Coulson said those agencies share the blame since top officials knew, but did little to stop, the gun-running effort. Coulson says he raised objections to then-DEA chief Elizabeth Kempshall, but was told it was taken care of.

The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review SAW (August 2012)
and was posted online on June 15, 2012


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