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Old 7th February 2020, 10:30 PM   #1
Ranb
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When an AR-15 is not a Firearm

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/07/us/ex...-15/index.html
Quote:
In his 23 years with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Dan O'Kelly was one of the agency's top gun experts.....As O'Kelly sees it, the ATF has been deliberately misinterpreting a key gun control regulation for decades because officials fear that following the letter of the law would allow criminals to build AR-15s and other firearms piece by piece with unregulated parts.

https://atf-eregs.18f.gov/478-11/201...11-p1909909317
Quote:
Firearm frame or receiver.
That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.
I've always tried to keep up with the law and how it changes. But this little detail has up till now escaped me.

The typical AR-15 lower receiver is the single part controlled as a firearm unless it also contains an auto-sear to make it a machine gun. The AR-15 lower receiver contains the hammer and firing mechanism. The upper receiver that attaches with two small steel pins contains the bolt as well as the threads that the barrel nut mates with.

Quote:
In December, a federal judge in Ohio dismissed weapons-related charges against two men after O'Kelly testified that the AR-15 part at issue in their case was not subject to federal law or regulation.
US District Court Judge James G. Carr for the Northern District of Ohio called the ATF's long-standing interpretation of the regulation "unreasonable and legally unacceptable."
None of the gun stores I've dealt with are likely to sell AR-15 lower receivers as gun parts vs actual guns.

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Old 7th February 2020, 11:00 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
.....
None of the gun stores I've dealt with are likely to sell AR-15 lower receivers as gun parts vs actual guns.

Ranb
Okay, so how would the language of the law need to be revised to fulfill its original intent? I don't think AR15s -- the civilian version of the military M16 -- was all that popular or widely available when the law was passed in 1968. Seems like it wouldn't take much to define both upper and lower receivers as regulated parts, or just say "any part necessary to make the gun go boom."
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Old 7th February 2020, 11:14 PM   #3
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I suppose it could be changed to;
Quote:
Firearm frame or receiver.
That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer or bolt (breechlock), or firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.
As far as I know the CFR's are much easier to change than actual law made by Congress. An example would be the recent bump stock ban.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Admini...(United_States)

While a person could, I suppose, buy AR-15 lower receivers without violating the law, assembling the parts to make an actual functioning firearm requires the owner to comply with the GCA of 1968 and the NFA of 1934.
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Old 10th February 2020, 09:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I suppose it could be changed to;


As far as I know the CFR's are much easier to change than actual law made by Congress. An example would be the recent bump stock ban.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Admini...(United_States)

While a person could, I suppose, buy AR-15 lower receivers without violating the law, assembling the parts to make an actual functioning firearm requires the owner to comply with the GCA of 1968 and the NFA of 1934.
Would that make uppers also subject to regulation?
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Old 10th February 2020, 01:21 PM   #5
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The notion that every possible permutation needs to be exactly referenced in the written law is incorrect. What is supposed to happen is that the courts interpret the intent of the law and this interpretation it becomes part of case law so usually there would be no need to amend the original law at all.

In this case, I think the court should have ruled that both parts of a split recover could be regulated, but that doesn’t seem to be what happened. If the courts can’t be trusted to reasonably assess the intent of the law and are looking for loopholes they can be use to disregard the law, there is actually a much more serious problem than just the wording of this particular law.
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Old 10th February 2020, 01:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
Would that make uppers also subject to regulation?
That runs into the same problem; the upper receiver only contains the bolt and barrel/barrel nut, while the lower receiver contains the hammer and trigger.
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:07 PM   #7
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This might fall into the realm of urban legend, but I've seen pictures of a franken-gun in which is claim to be built without any serialized parts.

Not like a "ghost gun" scenario, but a rifle built with parts from various different models where none of the individual parts are considered the "firearm" by the ATF. It was like an upper from an AK, some parts from an FAL, and a few others, where none of the individual elements were the serialized part from the donor gun.

I don't really see such a change in the law being good for gun owners. Even in today's partisan gridlock, it's hard to imagine the law remaining in such a place of paralysis. More likely that it will be rewritten to clear up the ambiguity, and that may result in a worse atmosphere.

The lower on an AR-15 being serialized is very convenient for gun owners. It makes buying complete uppers easy and that makes the platform very modular.
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
The notion that every possible permutation needs to be exactly referenced in the written law is incorrect. What is supposed to happen is that the courts interpret the intent of the law and this interpretation it becomes part of case law so usually there would be no need to amend the original law at all.
So what happens when a person says they are complying with the law and the state says they are not?

Let's say a person says their stripped lower receiver is not a firearm because it doesn't meet the strict definition of a firearm. Does the state say the part almost meets the criteria and arrests the person or do they let him off the hook?

Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
In this case, I think the court should have ruled that both parts of a split recover could be regulated, but that doesn’t seem to be what happened. If the courts can’t be trusted to reasonably assess the intent of the law and are looking for loopholes they can be use to disregard the law, there is actually a much more serious problem than just the wording of this particular law.
If the law and CFR is strictly interpreted as in the OP, then I suppose that possession of the upper and lower receivers at the same time would constitute possession of the firearm.

I've heard of cases involving constructive intent in the past. In this case it was a person who owned an AR-15 rifle but also have an upper receiver that was equipped with a pistol barrel. The state might argue that the person intended to make a contraband short barreled rifle (barrel <16" or overall length <26") unless they had the required tax stamp and engraving on the rifle receiver.
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
This might fall into the realm of urban legend, but I've seen pictures of a franken-gun in which is claim to be built without any serialized parts. ….
Even if it was assembled with non-gun parts, if a functional firearm was made, then it is still subject to the gun laws. In the USA I don't need a license to make a gun and it doesn't even need a serial number unless I sell it. This does not apply to NFA firearms and some states I believe do require a license and/or serial number.
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
Even if it was assembled with non-gun parts, if a functional firearm was made, then it is still subject to the gun laws. In the USA I don't need a license to make a gun and it doesn't even need a serial number unless I sell it. This does not apply to NFA firearms and some states I believe do require a license and/or serial number.
Sure, I think it was basically a thought experiment to prove a point. A gun could be assembled from a series of parts that the ATF did not treat as a firearm. Just kind of points out the squishiness of such a definition on what must be the serialized part.

Defining one piece to be the firearm is always a bit tricky. The most critical components are the pressure bearing parts, the chamber and bolt. Of course, the chamber (and barrel) are considered consumable parts, and barrel replacements is a common maintenance task.
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
That runs into the same problem; the upper receiver only contains the bolt and barrel/barrel nut, while the lower receiver contains the hammer and trigger.
So both are subject to regulation. I mean in a lot of ways the way the british do it makes more sense by regulating the pressure containing parts so barrels and breaches mostly get regulated and receivers not so much.
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
So both are subject to regulation. I mean in a lot of ways the way the british do it makes more sense by regulating the pressure containing parts so barrels and breaches mostly get regulated and receivers not so much.
So what happens when you replace a shot-out barrel? Does the new barrel make it a new firearm? Do they serialize the barrels in the UK?
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Old 10th February 2020, 02:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
So what happens when you replace a shot-out barrel? Does the new barrel make it a new firearm? Do they serialize the barrels in the UK?
Not sure, it was mentioned in passing in forgotten weapons on the guy in england who made his own SMG and how much harder it was as he couldn't buy barrels and the like as in the US as all pressure containing components are regulated as a firearm.
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Old 15th February 2020, 02:58 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
Sure, I think it was basically a thought experiment to prove a point. A gun could be assembled from a series of parts that the ATF did not treat as a firearm. Just kind of points out the squishiness of such a definition on what must be the serialized part.

Defining one piece to be the firearm is always a bit tricky. The most critical components are the pressure bearing parts, the chamber and bolt. Of course, the chamber (and barrel) are considered consumable parts, and barrel replacements is a common maintenance task.
In the US, the BATF designates the receiver as the firearm. That's why the receiver is the part with the serial number and must be purchased thru an FFL complete with background check. Without the receiver you cannot assemble the firearm as it is the central part required to assemble the other working parts together.

You can make your own receiver of course if you can do the machine work to scale. And it's legal to do so as long as you follow all the BATF guidelines. But making your own receiver restricts your use of the newly made firearm as in you can never sell it.

I think most of the rules regarding building a firearm are good as they are. For those that have bad dreams that someone who cannot legally possess a firearm might actually try to build one, keep in mind if you know how to use metal working equipment you can basically make anything you want. Some new laws regarding the sale of machine equipment would need to be put in place, then there's the training to be a machinist to regulate with background checks, oh what a rabbit hole that would be.

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Old 15th February 2020, 09:09 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ChrisBFRPKY View Post
....You can make your own receiver of course if you can do the machine work to scale. And it's legal to do so as long as you follow all the BATF guidelines. But making your own receiver restricts your use of the newly made firearm as in you can never sell it.
I'm not aware of any new CFR or law that says I can't make and sell a firearm without a license. I can in fact make an occasional sale of a firearm without obtaining a license. If I sell a firearm it needs a serial number; if it is an NFA firearm the transfer requires ATF approval.

I'll provide the links to back up my claims if you do the same.
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Old 19th February 2020, 02:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I'm not aware of any new CFR or law that says I can't make and sell a firearm without a license. I can in fact make an occasional sale of a firearm without obtaining a license. If I sell a firearm it needs a serial number; if it is an NFA firearm the transfer requires ATF approval.

I'll provide the links to back up my claims if you do the same.
Some kinds of firearms are really not regulated;Muzzle loading replicas for instance.
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