It sounds laughable, especially after Operation Fast and Furious, but according to a letter issued by John R Spencer, Chief of Firearms Technology Branch of the ATF, the copper scrubbing pad may be used as part of a gun silencer and as such falls under ATF jurisdiction.
Someone had their attorney inquire about repairs they wanted to make to a registered silencer for a .22 caliber rifle. In the request for information from the ATF, the attorney wrote,
“Does sound/gas absorbing materials manufactured from Chore Boy copper clean pads, along with fiberglass insulation, constitute a silencer part as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(24)?”
In the response, ATF chief Spencer replied,
“Yes. Gas/sound-absorbing material is the same as a baffle in that it is designed to reduce/trap hot gases within the expansion tube to allow cooling before they are released from the silencer, subsequently reducing sound…Replacement of any component part or parts of a registered silencer, other than a silencer wipe, would be a violation of the NFA if performed by a non-licensed manufacturer.”
According to the ATF, the gun owner should follow proper procedure and file an application with the ATF for the repair and pay a $200 tax. The letter went on to warn against the stockpiling of Chore Boy scrubbers or similar sound absorbing materials that could be used in gun silencers.
Well, let’s see, I’ve seen steel wool, tennis balls, pillows, fiber glass insulation, batting material used in quilts and other similar materials used in making silencers for rifles and handguns. Does that mean the ATF intends to regulated the stockpiling of tennis balls or batting for sewing? I guess my wife is due for a visit from the ATF as she purchases batting by the bulk roll for all of her quilting.
If you believe that the ATF regulation against stocking up on Chore Boy is ridiculous, then consider some of the other things the ATF has done in recent years.
In one of their rulings, the agency declared that sales of 14 inch long shoestrings should be regulated under federal gun law since they could be used to make a gun into a machinegun. In a letter signed by Sterling Nixon, Chief, Firearms Technology Branch, it read,
“As you may be aware, the National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b), defines ‘machinegun’ to include the following:
…any weapon that 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. This 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 machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person [bolding added].
In 1996, FTB examined and classified a 14-inch long shoestring with a loop at each end. The sting was attached to the cocking handle of a semiautomatic rifle and was looped around the trigger and attached to the shooter’s finger. The device caused the weapon to fire repeatedly until finger pressure was released from the string. Because this item was designed and intended to convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun, FTB determined that it was a machinegun as defined in 26 U.S.C. 5845(b).”
A couple years ago, the ATF actually seized a toy gun that shot plastic BBs because they said that someone could retool the toy into a real gun with minimal effort. However, the minimal retooling would consist of replacing the trigger assembly, upper and lower receivers, bolt and the barrel. Basically, it meant rebuilding the entire gun with only using the stock from the toy gun.
So at the same time the ATF was arming the Mexican drug cartels with hundreds of weapons, other members of the ATF were busy trying to regulate shoestrings, copper Chore Boy scrubbers and toy guns. Yes, siree, the efficiency of our federal government never fails to amaze me.