The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have recently decided to re-classify parachute flares and 40mm chalk rounds as explosives and begun the confiscation process. Those in the gun industry feel this ruling could soon be expanded to include all ammunition bigger than ½ inch in diameter.
Many have recently reported being contacted by ATF to turn in any recently purchased flare rounds. Some of these inidivduals have gun trusts and others just own then individually. Previously, these rounds had been classified by the ATF as non-explosives, but the bureau has recently had a change of heart that coincides with the other recent declassifications. (Does this sound familiar?)
When questioned about these declassifications, ATF has responded the change was made because the 40mm rounds in question are not “small arms” ammunition, and have thus been classified as “low explosives.” In one response letter, the ATF stated that “devices or articles that contain small arms ammunition or components thereof, but are not small arms ammunition by themselves, are regulated explosives,” and thus are not exempt from the provisions in 27 CFR, Part 555. This language suggests firearms registered as a “destructive device” may also be given a similar classification by the ATF.
So the next questions is what should you do when the ATF asks you to surrender these firearms?
Joshua Prince, an attorney at the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, recently made a video, regarding the gun owner’s options. Individuals that own these devices are given two options by the ATF: they can either surrender the devices and will not be prosecuted by the government, or they can hold onto the weapons and charges will be filed against them.
However, Prince says there is a third option, which is the right to surrender under protest. He states “if you have concerns as to the legality of a particular item you can always surrender it to the government under protest.” The benefit of this action is that it preserves a person’s right to challenge the ATF and the bureau’s determination that a device is illegal. Prince says this is important because it forces ATF to institute a forfeiture action where, if you are successful, you have the right to attorney’s fees and costs.
We urge anyone that is being asked to forfeit a firearm, weapon, or other device by a federal agency to surrender the item under protest. If the ATF or another government agency has recently contacted you and asked to forfeit an item in Florida, please contact a Gun Trust Lawyer® today.