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ATF: Chunk of unusable plastic is a firearm

Well, unless I’m missing something.

11 Responses to “ATF: Chunk of unusable plastic is a firearm”

  1. Nolan Says:

    As far as I can tell they’re reasoning that the plastic block that they’re using to block off the rest of the receiver creates a “cavity” that makes it a gun. So plastic being there is the same as plastic not being there… Logic.

  2. Spumco Says:

    I think the argument is that ‘indexing’ is the critical difference. The cavity before vs. no cavity argument isn’t the critical issue, despite ATF’s inability to communicate clearly in this case.

    Of course, we know they can be painfully clear using other forms of communication, but I digress.

    ATF doesn’t care if the biscuit is the same color or not, or – and this is just my take on their poorly-phrased letter – even if it was all molded at the same time, from the same color, without using a mold core.

    They’re saying (now) that indexing or marking an 80% lower so the end user knows exactly where to remove material pushes the item over the 80% line.

    Same as if you made an aluminum 80% receiver and cast or machined in a sort of paint-by-numbers line on the top for the FCG cavity and pre-drilled the holes 1/8″ deep on the sides.

    I guess the logic is that to be an 80% or less firearm, it must require ‘special skills or knowledge’ to complete. They’re interpreting built- or cast-in equivalent of machining instructions as eliminating the need for ‘special skills’. Note the letter’s reference to indexing on metallic receivers.

    Manufacturing a receiver with indexing marks is the equivalent of ‘Drill here for gun” and if Cletus or Lurleen can do it without once resorting to Google, then ‘special skills or knowledge’ go right out the window.

    Indexing = no special skills needed.
    No special skills = gun.

    To sum up –
    ATF to EP: You’re Making Guns!
    EP to ATF: No, we’re making a plug, then molding around it, so no finished gun ever exists.
    ATF to EP: Fine, but you’re making it too easy for everyone, so You’re Making Guns!
    EP to ATF: Shit.

    I could be wrong, but…

    But if I’m right, EP arguably could do exactly what they’re doing now – different colors and all – but don’t expose the different color. Leave the biscuit (mold core) just below the surface so that those pedestrians without ‘special skills or knowledge’ don’t know the secret is about.010″ deep.

    Looks just like all the other polymer 80% lowers, but once you have the legally-supported magic skills, you can cut below the surface to expose the other color.

    Like a Willy Wonka AR-15, only not quite as tasty.

  3. Paul Kisling Says:

    Spumco, I think you are right. The ATF was determined to make something illegal any way they could. It does not matter what EP armory came up with to counter it. The receiver was still getting banned.

    This could cause the ATF some problems in court, because they raided the business for one reason, but when proven wrong, they changed their tactic mid stride. That kind of shoddy police work does not make for happy judges. Smacks of a vendetta. Even the liberal judges don’t like that kind of thought. That is why the ATF is having so much fun in court over abusing the mentally retarded. They pulled a two step and there is a good chance it will come back to bite them.

  4. hank Says:

    Just because ATF can’t ‘splain what an 81% lower is doesn’t mean that they are making this up as they go along. They claim that they’ll “know it when they see it”, and surely we trust them to not abuse their power.

  5. Paul B Says:

    I would not be surprised that 80% lowers of any stripe are on the way out.

  6. Sigivald Says:

    Note that 18USC921 defines a “firearm” as any object “readily converted” to firing, and that AR lowers are the “firearm-y” part of an AR.

    So the ATF isn’t just making random stuff up – this has a pretty good legal basis.

    With a fully-formed – as far as I can tell – FCG opening and pre-made points to center your drill bit on, this looks a lot like “five minutes with a drill press”, which is a hell of a lot less work than what’s been an “80% lower” for the past decades.

    (Even if this is the wrong call, the problem really does seem to be in the law more than anything else.

    And if there’s to be a requirement for selling and making “guns”, we need to define “a gun”, and it sure seems like a line must be drawn between “not quite a gun yet” and “a gun”.

    Where’s the line, is the question – is it “break a little tab off with pliers in five seconds” or “several hours of delicate machining”?

    I’d prefer just removing the requirements on manufacture, but I’m not Congress.)

  7. Paul Kisling Says:

    Actually Sigivald 5 minutes sounds a tad high for finishing a plastic product. A serious manufacturer probably would not have much work time on a well designed mold.

    10-20 seconds for a complicated 5 part batch versus 5 minutes for one part.

    Sounds to me like the ATF is still in the 1500’s as far as manufacturing advances are concerned.

  8. Geodkyt Says:

    Sigivald —

    I can make a machinegun receiver out of a hunk of exhaust pipe salvaged from the junk yard, with a Dremel, in UNDER five minutes.

    Does that mean every single Honda passenger car is an unregistered machinegun? (Same rules apply to NFA receivers that need a little finishing as Title 1 receivers.)

  9. Geodkyt Says:

    ATF’s position is that by simply MARKING the locations where one needs to drill and/or mill (and they apply the same ruling to metal AR receivers – an aluminum forging, with the FCG pocket completely solid, that merely has indicators to show where to drill the FCG pin holes is ALSO determined to be a “finished” receiver).

    Based on this letter (and earlier ones concerning aluminum, steel, and titanium “80%” AR receivers I have seen), even if you had a wholly solid metal casting, and the manufacturer used a Sharpie to DRAW the pinholes and outline of the FCG pocket, it would be a “finished” receiver.

    Remember, ATF actually defended in court a standard that, up to eight hours work, by a fully qualified gunsmith and machinist, IN A MACHINE SHOP, constituted “readily restored”. (That case involved a DEWAT Thompson that ATF insisted wasn’t DEWAT’ed enough – in the days when DEWATs required no registration.)

  10. Lyle Says:

    How long before ore in the ground is declared a firearm?

  11. emdfl Says:

    Remember these are the same towering intellectuals who determined that a shoestring was a machine gun. Here’s a thought.
    Based on their reasoning if I glue a cut-out print on a piece of tubing that will – with about five to six hours of machine time – become a (semi)receiver does that make that piece of tube a receiver?