to Department of Justice Regarding Proposed Regulatory Actions
of Justice, Firearms Division
RE: Written Comments in
Regard to Proposed Regulatory Action for Large Capacity Magazines and Assault
I’m beginning to feel that this is an exercise in futility since I have
not had any responses to the specific questions in either of my two previous
letters. Nor have I seen my
suggestions implemented in your revisions.
However, ever the optimist, I will once again provide you with input
regarding your proposed regulations. Bear
in mind that when your regulations are challenged in court that one of the
challenges will most likely be ambiguity. If
you make your definitions simple and general, and thereby continue to raise
questions such as I have presented in this and previous letters, you strengthen
the legal argument of ambiguity. As
a taxpayer, I am disturbed that my tax money is going to be spent to defend what
is predictably legally inadequate, ambiguous regulations.
Without an objective measurement of flash luminosity it is impossible to
unequivocally determine if a device “functions to reduce..” muzzle flash.
The portion of the definition that relates to redirecting “muzzle flash
from the shooter’s field of vision” is still unclear as to what is really
meant. As can be concluded from the
included patent summaries on flash suppressors held by the U.S. government,
their principle concern in applying suppressors is not revealing the position of
If literally interpreted, your proposed regulations would effectively
prohibit the sporting use of a muzzle-brake or compensator on a
detachable-magazine semiautomatic firearm.
As you can see from the included patent summaries, both the U.S. Patent
Office and the Department of Defense recognize flash suppressors to be different
from muzzle-brakes and compensators. In
the case of flash suppressors, the hot gas and unburned powder are seen as a
problem, particularly for full-automatic firearms. The general solution is to disperse and cool the gas by
diverting it from exiting exclusively from the muzzle.
In the case of a muzzle-brake or compensator, the exiting gas is seen as
a solution to a problem, namely recoil and muzzle-jump.
Unfortunately, many devices are designed to do both functions, again
especially for full-automatic firearms. In
fact, even devices designed exclusively as a muzzle-brake also potentially
create a flash suppression effect. The
primary difference between the two devices (again see the included patent
summaries) is that muzzle-brakes and compensators have to vent the gases
unsymmetrically, while maximum flash suppression is achieved with symmetrical
dispersion of the gas cloud. So,
absent the original design specifications, the only clear, unequivocal evidence
for a device being designed for flash suppression is a symmetrical dispersion
without a bias for upward venting.
Therefore, you are
still presented with the conundrum I raised in my first letter:
How does one differentiate a muzzle-brake from a flash suppressor?
How much incidental flash-suppression will be tolerated from a device
designed to be a muzzle-brake or compensator?
If a device apparently has been designed to achieve both functions, where
will the legal emphasis be placed in a dual-function device?
What judicial evidence will be accepted regarding the original design
function? Will common names be
resorted to regardless of obvious functionality?
As you can see from the attached page from the website of Bushmaster
Firearms, there are many devices that look very similar, and may even function
similarly, that go by different names. How
are law-enforcement officers supposed to know the difference?
Can they reasonably be expected to know the technical differences and be
familiar with all the different designs? Springfield
Armory (Springfield, IL) is advertising that they have a “California Legal”
muzzle-brake and stabilizer that has presumably been blessed by the BATF; is the
DOJ willing to defer to the technical assessment of the BATF?
If not, why not? Will you
issue a list of muzzle-brakes and compensators that are exempt from being
considered suppressors that gun owners can carry with them to prevent their
arrest? If not, why not?
Lastly, I still find
your definitions of a “forward pistol grip” and “thumbhole stock” to be
inadequate. I would like to suggest
that you add Small
arms of the world : a basic manual of small arms by Edward
Clinton Ezell to your collection of reference materials.
Also, I believe that particular pages that are pertinent to the
regulation definitions should be cited for the reference materials that you
reference in your most recent letter. With
respect to references, you might find it instructive to review the appeal
judgement on U.S. v. Spinner (No. 97-3061, July 28, 1998) heard in the Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
It relates to judicial proof for the definition of “conspicuously
protruding’ and a “flash suppressor.”
In that case, the expert witness called for the government could not
identify whether the muzzle device was a flash-suppressor or muzzle-brake.
Clyde H. Spencer
Patent summaries US4024791, US5303634, US3971285, US5020416,
Firearms muzzle devices illustrations
Cc: Steve Helsley
Recommend reading: Assault