Franklin Armory and FRAC Sue US Government, Challenging Multiple Meritless ATF Actions and Inactions

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MINDEN, Nev. – January 4, 2023 – Franklin Armory, Inc., a leading U.S.-based manufacturer of firearms and accessories, in conjunction with the Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc. (FRAC), today announced that it has filed a federal lawsuit challenging wrongful classification of firearms and regulatory delays by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The Co-Plaintiff, FRAC, is a nonprofit organization demanding accountability, transparency, and fairness from those agencies that regulate firearms.   

The case, Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc., et al.  v. Merrick B. Garland, et al., seeks the immediate promulgation of procedures and forms necessary to facilitate sales and transfers of Franklin Armory’s Reformation® firearm line as required by law. The case also seeks the immediate reclassification of Franklin Armory’s Antithesis™ firearm line consistent with the National Firearms Act (NFA) and Gun Control Act (GCA).

The complaint centers around the multi-year delay by ATF to develop the mechanisms necessary for Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) to sell and transfer Franklin Armory’s Reformation, which the agency considers to be a firearm subject to GCA but not subject to NFA. In one of its letters to Franklin Armory, ATF acknowledged that its classification created “a gap in the federal firearm regulations,” which the agency would need to promptly rectify. As of this case’s filing date, it has been more than 1,500 days since ATF classified Reformation as a non-NFA firearm without implementing the requisite procedures.

The lawsuit further spotlights ATF’s arbitrary, capricious, and meritless regulatory overreach regarding the agency’s misclassification of Franklin Armory’s Antithesis line of firearms as a “short-barreled rifle” under both the NFA and GCA. Per the filed complaint and despite several additional voluntary submissions of widely-popular caliber and cartridge variations of Antithesis that Franklin Armory sent for classification, ATF ignored numerous factors in its erroneous classification. According to the claim:

Franklin Armory’s Antithesis is a new type of weapon that, in addition to firing a fixed cartridge with a single projectile, is designed and intended to fire cartridges that expel multiple projectiles. By classifying Antithesis as a short-barreled rifle subject to NFA and GCA, ATF has saddled the weapon with unlawful conditions that make it significantly more burdensome for Franklin Armory to sell it to the public. 

“The ATF’s classification of Antithesis overlooks the plain and clear language of the statute in favor of their own politically motivated interpretation, and its extraordinary delay in creating the procedures and forms necessary for the Reformation series of firearms to be sold in the marketplace has caused Franklin Armory significant financial harm,” said Franklin Armory President Jay Jacobson. “We have spent years attempting to resolve this matter without litigation. This lawsuit rightfully challenges the ATF’s egregious inaction and overreach, and seeks to ensure that not only Franklin Armory, but all industry members are treated fairly, accurately, and in accordance with the laws enacted by Congress.”

After many years of fruitless negotiations, Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc., et al.  v. Merrick B. Garland, et al. was filed with the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota Western Division and names as defendants: Merrick B. Garland, in his official capacity, as Attorney General of the United States; The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Steven Dettelbach, in his official capacity, as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Counsel for plaintiffs is Washington-based Wiley Rein LLP.

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