Monday, October 7, 2019

Definitions matter

Graybeard commented on my last post:
Unless they specifically address it, if there's an assault weapon buy back, all you sell back is the serialized lower, because that's the gun. Get some 80% lowers and get them ready to assemble or swap them out in advance and sell back stripped lowers.
Uppers are not guns, stocks are not guns, trigger groups or drop-ins are not guns.
He is rightly pointing out that the ATF has long held that the lower is a firearm and everything else that attaches to it is merely an accessory. With that in mind, is my stripped lower an assault weapon? After all, even using the new definition of "assault weapon":

The term ‘semiautomatic assault weapon’ means any of the following, regardless of country of manufacture or caliber of ammunition accepted:
“(A) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any 1 of the following:
“(i) A pistol grip.
“(ii) A forward grip.
“  (iii) A folding, telescoping, or detachable stock, or is otherwise foldable or adjustable       in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or        .         otherwise enhances the concealability, of the weapon.
“  (iv) A grenade launcher..
“  (v) A barrel shroud.
“  (vi) A threaded barrel.
(D) A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any 1 of the following:
“(i) A threaded barrel.
“(ii) A second pistol grip.
“(iii) A barrel shroud.
“(iv) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
“(v) A semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
“(vi) A manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when unloaded.
“(vii) A stabilizing brace or similar component.
“(E) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
Since a stripped lower doesn't have a pistol grip or stock, doesn't have a barrel at all (thus no barrel shroud or threaded barrel), weighs far less than 50 ounces, and without any of the accessories like the upper, cannot be classed as semiautomatic, there is a significant legal case to be made that applying this to a stripped lower is rather vague and over inclusive. That is what you get when you base laws on cosmetics rather than function. 


Jerry said...

Originally I purchased a bare lower receiver. The government has no idea what I built on this receiver if indeed I built anything at all. If they want my AR-15 the will get my lower receiver. That's what I bought.

If they go after semi-automatic rifles, I will hand over the aft half of the gas tube as proof that my rifle is no longer semi-automatic. I'm already designing a pump action conversion.

SiGraybeard said...

I thought I used enough "mealy-mouthed words" about the fact that they can make anything illegal with the stroke of a pen.

If they're going to declare entire classes of firearms illegal just by defining some physical characteristics they could add in something about making it illegal to sell back a receiver. New York's Attorney General has ordered several sellers of 80% lowers not to sell them into the state.

That doesn't have to be exclusive to NY.

As the law is at the moment, the receiver is the gun. If they were to tell me the serial number of an AR I have and demand the gun, that's what they'll get. As the law is at the moment.

Your fourth option is what I think would really happen. The first couple of victims of no-knock raids to confiscate guns would probably die. Once word gets around that has started, there would a reaction that would make any other rebellion in history look like a child's party.