Summary of Proposed Rule 2021R-05

ATF's proposed rule, Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms, would:

  • Provide new definitions of “firearm frame or receiver” and “frame or receiver”
  • Amend the definition of:
    • “firearm” to clarify when a firearm parts kit is considered a “firearm,” and
    • “gunsmith” to clarify the meaning of that term and to explain that gunsmiths may be licensed solely to mark firearms for unlicensed persons.
  • Provide definitions for:
    • “complete weapon,”
    • “complete muffler or silencer device,”
    • “privately made firearm (PMF),” and
    • “readily” for purposes of clarity given advancements in firearms technology.
  • Provide a definition of “importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number”
  • Provide a deadline for marking firearms manufactured.
  • Clarify marking requirements for firearm mufflers and silencers.
  • Amend the format for records of manufacture/acquisition and disposition by manufacturers and importers.
  • Amend the time period records must be retained at the licensed premises.

Proposed New Definition of Firearm “Frame or Receiver”

Under the proposed rule, a “frame or receiver” is any externally visible housing or holding structure for one or more fire control components. A “fire control component” is one necessary for the firearm to initiate, complete, or continue the firing sequence, including, but not limited to, any of the following: hammer, bolt, bolt carrier, breechblock, cylinder, trigger mechanism, firing pin, striker, or slide rails.

Any firearm part falling within the new definition that is identified with a serial number must be presumed, absent an official determination by ATF or other reliable evidence to the contrary, to be a frame or receiver.

More than one externally visible part may house or hold a fire control component on a particular firearm, such as with a split or modular frame or receiver. Under these circumstances, ATF may determine whether a specific part or parts of the 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 proposed rule maintains current classifications and marking requirements of firearm frames or receivers, except that licensed manufacturers and importers must mark on new designs or configurations either: their name (or recognized abbreviation), and city and state (or recognized abbreviation) where they maintain their place of business; or their name (or recognized abbreviation) and their abbreviated FFL number, on each part defined as a frame or receiver, along with the serial number.

The proposed rule includes examples of types and models firearms and identifies the frame or receiver. Most examples also include an illustration identifying the frame or receiver. It also explains when a partially complete, disassembled, or inoperable frame or receiver is considered a “frame or receiver”, and explains that a destroyed frame or receiver is not considered a “frame or receiver”.

Firearm Parts Kits

The proposed rule explains that when a partially complete frame or receiver parts kit has reached a stage in manufacture where it may readily be completed, assembled, converted, or restored to a functional state, it is a “frame or receiver” that must be marked.

Weapon parts kits with partially complete frames or receivers and containing the necessary parts such that they may readily be completed, assembled, converted, or restored to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive are “firearms” for which each frame or receiver of the weapon would need to be marked.

A weapon, including a weapon parts kit, in which each frame or receiver of the weapon or within such kit is destroyed is not considered a “firearm”.

Licensing of Dealer/Gunsmiths

Under the proposed rule, dealers/gunsmiths can mark firearms for the maker or owner of a privately made firearm (PMF) and may be licensed to engage solely in that business.

Dealer/gunsmiths are not authorized to perform repair, modify, embellish, refurbish, or install parts in or on firearms (frames, receivers, or otherwise) for or on behalf of a licensed importer or licensed manufacturer because those firearms are for sale or distribution. A license as a Type 07 manufacturer would be required.

Marking Requirements for Firearms Other than PMFs

Under the proposed rule, licensed manufacturers and importers must identify each part defined as a frame or receiver (or specific part(s) determined by ATF) of each firearm they manufacture or import with a serial number, licensee’s name (or recognized abbreviation) where they maintain their place of business; or their name (or recognized abbreviation) and abbreviated federal firearms license number as a prefix, followed by a hyphen, and then followed by a number as a suffix (e.g., “12345678-[number]”).

Each part defined as a frame or receiver, machinegun, or firearm muffler or firearm silencer that is not a component part of a complete weapon or device at the time it is sold, shipped, or otherwise disposed of by the licensee must be identified with a serial number and all additional identifying information, except that the model designation and caliber or gauge may be omitted if that information is unknown at the time the part is identified.

Licensees must mark complete weapons, or frames or receivers disposed of separately, as the case may be, no later than seven days following the date of completion of the active manufacturing process or prior to disposition, whichever is sooner.

Marking and Recordkeeping Requirements for PMFs

Under the proposed rule, a “privately made firearm” (PMF) is a firearm, including a frame or receiver, assembled or otherwise produced by a person other than a licensed manufacturer, and without a serial number or other identifying markings placed by a licensed manufacturer at the time the firearm was produced. The term does not include an NFA registered firearm, or one made before October 22, 1968 (unless remanufactured after that date).

Licensees must:

  • Properly mark each PMF acquired before the effective date of the rule within 60 days after the rule becomes final, or before the date of disposition (including to a personal collection), whichever is sooner.
     
  • Properly mark previously acquired PMFs themselves or may arrange to have another licensee mark the firearm on their behalf. PMFs currently in inventory that a licensee chooses not to mark may also be destroyed or voluntarily turned-in to law enforcement within the 60-day period.
     
  • Once the rule becomes final, and unless already marked by another licensee, properly mark each PMF within seven days following the date of receipt or other acquisition (including from a personal collection), or before the date of disposition (including to a personal collection), whichever is sooner.
     
  • Mark PMFs acquired after the rule becomes effective themselves or under their direct supervision by another licensee with the supervising licensee’s information.
     
  • Mark PMFs with the same serial number on each frame or receiver of a weapon that begins with the FFL’s abbreviated license number (first three and last five digits) as a prefix followed by a hyphen on any “privately made firearm” (as defined) that the licensee acquired (e.g., “12345678-[number]”).
     
  • Record PMFs in their acquisition and disposition records, whether or not kept overnight, and update their acquisition entries with information marked on PMFs.

Licensees may refuse to accept PMFs or arrange for private individuals to have them marked by another licensee before accepting them, provided they are properly marked in accordance with this proposed rule.

Marking, Registration, and Transfer Requirements for Silencers

Under the proposed rule, a “frame or receiver” of a firearm muffler or silencer device is defined as a housing or holding structure for one or more essential internal components of the device, including, but not limited to, baffles, baffling material, or expansion chamber.

Manufacturers and makers of complete muffler or silencer devices need only mark each part (or specific part(s) previously determined by ATF) of the device defined as a “frame or receiver” under this rule. However, individual muffler or silencer parts must be marked if they are disposed of separately from a complete device unless transferred by qualified manufacturers to other qualified licensees for the manufacture or repair of complete devices.

A qualified manufacturer may:

  • Transfer a silencer part to another qualified manufacturer without immediately identifying or registering such part provided that, upon receipt, it is actively used to manufacture a complete muffler or silencer device.
     
  • Transfer a replacement silencer part other than a frame or receiver to a qualified manufacturer or dealer without identifying or registering such part provided that, upon receipt, it is actively used to repair a complete muffler or silencer device that was previously identified and registered in accordance with this part.

Persons may temporarily convey a lawfully possessed NFA firearm, including a silencer, to a qualified manufacturer or dealer for the sole purpose of repair, identification, evaluation, research, testing, or calibration, and return to the same lawful possessor without additional identification or registration.

Records of Acquisition and Disposition

Under the proposed rule, records of manufacture/importation/acquisition and disposition by manufacturers and importers must be consolidated into one book similar to dealers, and the format containing the applicable columns is specified as part of the regulation.

The proposed rule specifies required information for duplicate entries in licensees’ acquisition and disposition books so there are no open entries (i.e., bound books must be ‘closed out’).

Record Retention

Under the proposed rule, all licensees must retain forms, including ATF Forms 4473, and acquisition and disposition records until the business or licensed activity is discontinued.

Paper forms and records over 20 years of age may be stored in a separate warehouse, which is considered part of the licensed premises and subject to inspection. Paper acquisition and disposition records stored separately are those that do not contain any open disposition entries and with no dispositions recorded within 20 years.

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Last Reviewed May 24, 2021