ATF gets slapped down

The ATF has a long history of making up the rules as it goes along and not telling anyone what the rules are until it decides you have stepped over the line. A judge has now slapped them down for this:

Uncle Sam arbitrarily classified a new device as a firearm silencer without sufficient review or a decent explanation why, a federal judge’s somewhat scathing opinion states.
     “In any agency review case, a reviewing court is generally obligated to uphold a reasonable agency decision that is the product of a rational agency process,” U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote Wednesday. “This is not a high bar. But in this case, ATF fails to clear it.”

There is a lot more where that came from followed by this:

“Hypotheticals further illustrate the weakness of this methodology,” he wrote. “A mouse is not an ‘elephant’ solely because it has three characteristics that are common to known elephants: a tail, gray skin and four legs. A child’s bike is not a ‘motorcycle’ solely because it has three characteristics common to known motorcycles: two rubber tires, handlebars, and a leather seat. And a Bud Light is not ‘Single-Malt Scotch,’ just because it is frequently served in a glass container, contains alcohol, and is available for purchase at a tavern. To close with a firearm-related example a hockey puck us not a ‘rubber bullet,’ just because it has rounded sides, is made of vulcanized rubber, and is capable of causing injury when launched at high speeds. Learning that one object has three characteristics in common with some category may not be very helpful in determining whether the object in question belongs in that category.
     “To make matters worse, other agency guidance uses a different set of characteristics – the six characteristics in the Classification letter appear not to be an exhaustive definitive list.”

And my favorite part:

     He also granted Innovator summary judgment on its claim under the Administrative Procedure Act, holding that the agency’s action must be set aside as arbitrary and capricious because of the agency’s failure to “articulate a satisfactory explanation” and “examine the relevant data” in classifying Innovator’s Stabilizer Brake as a “firearm silencer.”

“Arbitrary and capricious”! Yes! There are going to be a lot of people agreeing with that conclusion.

6 thoughts on “ATF gets slapped down

  1. “Arbitrary and capricious” defines a lot of what government does, and it defines the BATF completely. The bureau, a shameful, disgusting, violent, anti-American relic of Prohibition and the FDR administration, needs to go the way of the dodo bird. It’s too stupid to survive.

  2. We need to see a lot more of this recognition of arbitrary and capricious. I get so sick and tired of wishful thinking being accepted as fact at all levels of government.

    • It’s mostly psychological warfare, and we need to become experts at counter-psychological warfare.

  3. “Arbitrary and capricious” is another way of saying “unlawful” or “unconstrained by the rule of law”.
    Once you realize that, it is obvious that at least 99% of the Federal government should be described that way, because at least 99% of the Federal government is involved in activities not authorized by Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution.
    BATFE is of course an example. So is every “independent” agency (since no such thing appears anywhere in the Constitution). So are most cabinet departments (for example those of HHS, agriculture, energy, education, environment, interior). So are most of the activities of the remaining departments (for example, some very small parts of Commerce are mentioned in the Constitution but most is not).

  4. Pingback: SayUncle » Judge to ATF: Knock it off

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