ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comment.
3. Split or modular frame or receiver This second supplement would define “frame or receiver” to include “in the case of a firearm with more than one part that provides housing or a structure designed to hold or integrate one or more fire control or essential components . . . each such part, unless one or more specific part(s) of the weapon is or has previously been determined by the Director to be the frame or receiver.” It would further provide that “[i]n determining whether specific part(s) of a weapon is the frame or receiver, which may include an internal frame or chassis at least partially exposed to the exterior to allow identification, the Director shall consider, at a minimum, whether the part may be identified legibly, conspicuously, and in a manner not susceptible of being readily obliterated, altered, or removed.” It would further make clear that “[f]rames or receivers of different weapons that are combined to create a similar weapon each retain their respective classifications as frames or receivers provided they retain their original design and configuration.” This supplement to the general definition addresses one of the core problems of the current definition of “firearm frame or receiver;” namely, that a majority of firearms now use a split or modular design in which more than one part houses a different fire control component and/or incorporates a striker instead of a hammer. It would make clear that a firearm, including a silencer, can have more than one part that is the frame or receiver that may need to be marked, assuming ATF has not already classified a specific part or parts to be the frame or receiver. For this reason, manufacturers may wish to submit samples to ATF for classification of one or more particular components as the frame or receiver so that they need only mark a specific part or parts of a weapon, rather than all qualifying parts (see Section II.H.10 of the preamble), or obtain a marking variance (see Section II.H.6 of the preamble). However, this supplemental definition would also make clear that ATF would not classify an internal frame or chassis as a “frame or receiver” unless it is at least partially exposed to the exterior to allow identification so that licensees accepting them into inventory can quickly record the identifying markings, and law enforcement officers who recover the weapon can easily see the identifying markings for tracing purposes.46
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