ATF takes fire from Orlando gun trigger designer in lawsuit over cease and desist order

Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Orlando-based Rare Breed Triggers, a Florida Limited Liability Company, is taking on the federal government in a lawsuit over an order to halt production of their patented gun trigger, the FRT-15.

In July, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Tampa Field Division issued a cease and desist order to the company to halt production of the FRT15 trigger, after the agency said they determined the trigger to be a machine gun, under the definition in the National Firearms Act.

Machine gun. Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot,
automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The
term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely
and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a
machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts
are in the possession or under the control of a person.

NFA Definition of a Machine Gun, hosted by ATF.gov

Subsequently, the ATF sent its order to Rare Breed Triggers, part of Rare Breed Firearms.

While the letter from the ATF, addressed to owner Kevin Maxwell and pulled from the online database Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), details their ruling on the FRT-15 as manufactured and marketed, Maxwell’s attorneys and industry experts disagree over the definition’s application to the trigger.

Multiple industry experts brought on by Maxwell and Rare Breed to test the trigger legally and practically, including a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, disagree with the ATF’s definition of the product as a machine gun, fully automatic, or for use that could make a gun fully automatic.

Specifically, an attorney from The Law Office of Kevin P. McCann in Merritt Island, Fla.; tested by Daniel O’Kelly, a former Senior Special Agent at the ATF and now a Director of GunLearn and a senior instructor at International Firearm Specialist Academy; reviewed by Rick Vasquez, a research and analysis consultant of Rick Vasquez Firearms, LLC; and Brian Luettke, a former special agent of the ATF and now a consultant for Firearms Training and Interstate Nexus Consulting, LLC all weighed in on the legality of the FRT-15 in its capacity as a machine gun.

All of the above experts mentioned in the legal complaint filed by Maxwell to block the ATF’s cease and desist noted that the FRT-15 did not meet the definition of a machine gun, at least under the definition in the National Firearms Act of Title 26 U.S.C. § 5845. Instead, all of the associated found that the product performed as a semiautomatic trigger, and therefore did not constitute a machine gun pursuant to the NFA.

Additionally, Earl Griffith, Chief at Firearms Technology Branch, ATF, a part of the U.S. DOJ found that the three-mode trigger design was determined to be “not a part or combination of parts that will convert a semiautomatic firearm into a machinegun.”

Since the lawsuit’s filing on Aug. 2, Lawrence DeMonico, president of Rare Breed Triggers, put out a video public statement breaking down the company’s position in the lawsuit. The video, published on Aug. 19, runs just under 14 minutes long, and “addresses the ATF’s attempted overreach in trying to redefine the term ‘machine gun'” as it applies to the FRT-15.

The lawsuit names U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the U.S. Department of Justice; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Tampa Field Division, Craig Saier; and Marvin Richardson, the Acting Director of the ATF as defendants.

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