Yet per ATF’s former Acting Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch, that rule ignored how previous advice from legal counsel and technical experts was overruled.
U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- A Freedom of Information Act Request filed with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Monday seeks presentation and other materials proving bureau decisions to reclassify firearm accessories as machineguns were political and contrary to statutory law, technical evaluations and advice of legal counsel. The request was filed by Stamboulieh Law, PLLC, on behalf of firearms designer Len Savage, President, Historic Arms, LLC.
The FOIA request seeks within 20 business days:
“1) Documents and all other tangible things, including but not limited to, emails, PowerPoint presentations, and communications related to a briefing at the Chief Counsel’s Office wherein a written brief and PowerPoint presentation, which discussed “automatically” and “single function of a trigger” was discussed (see attached Declaration of Rick Vasquez attached as Exhibit “1”, paragraphs 13 and 14);
“2) And, any other such similar briefings, which discussed Historic Arms, LLC, its products, and/or its president, Len Savage.”
The reason behind the request is some startling testimony made in a Verified Declaration by former ATF employee Richard Vasquez in the cases of Guedes v. BATFE/Firearms Policy Coalition v. Matthew Whitaker, filed Friday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In addition to having his expert qualifications recognized by federal courts, Vasquez declared that :
“[O]ver my 14-year tenure, I held the titles of Senior Technical Expert, Assistant Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch (‘FTB’) Acting Chief of the FTB, and Acting Chief of the Firearms Training Branch.”
In his sworn statement, Vasquez cited a briefing from several years back for then-ATF Acting Director Michael Sullivan and notes:
“During the briefing, the Chief Counsel’s Office provided a written brief and a PowerPoint presentation, which discussed ‘automatically’ and ‘single function of a trigger.’ The brief and PowerPoint presentation, based on the intent of Congress and the statutory text, detailed how even the Akins Accelerator was not a machinegun. However, Acting Director Sullivan decided, against the advice of the Chief Counsel’s Office, to declare the Akins Accelerator a machinegun.”
That the boss would go against qualified experts and legal counsel is not surprising to those who followed the anti-gun enforcement machinations of the George W. Bush political nominee dubbed “Maximum Mike” for going after strong sentences. Thanks to leadership by a coalition of gun owner rights advocates:
“Sullivan’s confirmation was opposed by gun rights groups such as the Gun Owners of America, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The NRA did not categorically state its opposition to the confirmation of Mr. Sullivan but expressed its concern over the ATF’s ‘overly restrictive legal interpretations’ and ‘overly zealous enforcement activities.’”
This was the unelected functionary who zealously overruled legal counsel and technical advice that led us to not only the developer of the Akins Accelerator being financially destroyed but now to a situation where owners of devices like “bump stocks” will face felony charges if they do not surrender or destroy their property. This smells more like a conspiracy to deprive citizens of rights than anything else.
“It is my belief and understanding that the written brief and PowerPoint presentation of the Chief Counsel’s Office, as well as other communications and determinations on ‘automatic’ and ‘single function of the trigger,’ still exist within ATF and were never mentioned nor addressed during the rulemaking in this matter or the Final Rule,” Vasquez asserted, further admitting “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”
Why weren’t they addressed?
Those are the documents Savage and Stamboulieh are determined to obtain and make public. They should have a significant bearing on another action Stamboulieh is currently arguing, the case over the Trump “bump stock ban” involving, among other complaints, my re-engineered-to-be-compliant Akins Accelerator.
The court has scheduled a hearing next Tuesday for oral arguments on the motion for a preliminary injunction in that case.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.