August 13, 2021
Rare Breed Triggers, a company based in Orlando, Florida, makes the FRT-15 trigger—a trigger that operates somewhat differently than other triggers on the market. Apparently, because of the ability for shooters to fire guns with an FRT-15 trigger faster than those with some other triggers, the ATF recently sent Rare Breed a cease and desist order.
Editor's Note: Lawrence DeMonico, president of Rare Breed Triggers makes a public statement regarding the lawsuit filed by RBT against the ATF, DOJ, and AG. Watch the video below.
“As the Rare Breed Trigger FRT-15 is a machine gun under the NFA, it is subject to the registration, transfer, taxation and possession restrictions applicable to these regulated weapons, which include criminal penalties relating to the illegal transfer and possession of said weapons,” the ATF wrote in its letter.
The important thing to remember here is that the National Firearms Act defines a “machine gun” to include any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. While the ATF’s examination allegedly found that the Rare Breed trigger allows a firearm to “shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, with a single continuous pull of the trigger,” in reality the FRT trigger does require a “single function” of the trigger to fire each shot.
That’s what prompted the prompt and stern reply from Kevin Maxwell, general counsel for Rare Breed.
“RBT disagrees with any conclusion which suggests the FRT-15 can shoot more than one round by a single function of the trigger,” Maxwell wrote in a letter addressed to Craig Saier, special agent in charge of the Tampa Field Division. The letter was subsequently widely circulated on the internet. “This is not just my opinion. Before the first FRT-15 was manufactured, the design was reviewed in detail by Retired Special Agent Kevin McCann, Esquire, and former ATF Special Agent, Program Manager and Chief Firearms Technology Instructor Daniel G. O’Kelly. The conclusion of that review determined the FRT-15 is not a machine gun.”
Consequently, Maxwell and RBT are demanding that the ATF reveal what kind of examination was conducted to make the new determination.
“I must dispute the letter’s claim in its entirety and demand strict proof of same, including an unredacted copy of what I expect is a Report of Technical Examination from the examiner within the Firearms Technology Branch,” Maxwell wrote. “In the absence of that, I must demand an unredacted copy of whatever other ‘examination’ led to the issuance of the letter.”
Maxwell pointed out that federal agencies can’t just change the rule of law without going through proper channels, and that doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance. Consequently, he says the agency’s letter is way out of line.
“The letter improperly threatens criminal prosecution without proper notice,” he stressed. “This makes the legality of your determination even more unreasonable. The Supreme Court has ruled that due process bars enforcement of criminal statutes where an agency improperly changes course with respect to conduct it deems unlawful. This is because an improper regulation change or reinterpretation makes it impossible for the average person to know what is illegal.”
In the end, Maxwell said that Rare Breed Trigger doesn’t intend to stop making the FRT-15 triggers anytime soon, regardless of what the cease and desist letter said.
“I stand ready to receive the information demanded above,” Maxwell concluded. “Until then, RBT must respectfully decline the letter’s demands. Make no mistake, RBT will fully cooperate with any reasonable ATF investigation. However, it cannot simply acquiesce to the destruction of its business based upon ATF fiat that finds no support in its prior rulings applicable to law, rule or regulation.”
We’ll keep an eye on this controversy as it unfolds and report on it again when it has passed the-dueling-letters stage.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.