AR15 Lowers Are Not Firearms (for now) or You Can't Trust BATF - RimfireCentral.com Forums

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Old 10-13-2019, 01:25 PM
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FALPhil
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AR15 Lowers Are Not Firearms (for now) or You Can't Trust BATF



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I get emails from a government watchdog group, and this weekend I got a couple pertaining to how the BATF regulates AR15 lowers. Apparently, the lowers do not fit the legal definition of a firearm, and the BATF just made up their own definition out of thin air. This will not come as a surprise to many gun enthusiasts, since this is not the first time they have attempted to do that.

Anyway, here are the case precedents:

US v. Jiminez
US v. Roh

I think this is pertinent because
(A) There is a significant group at rimfirecentral.com that build 22LR firearms based on the AR15 platform, and
(B) Some of them build those firearms using finished 80% receivers.

Frankly, my take on it is that the original language is somewhat behind the times.

Quote:
Under the US Code of Federal Regulations, a firearm frame or receiver is defined as: “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.”
Clearly, the only part of the law that the lower satisfies is "housing for the hammer". Interestingly, the upper assembly of Ruger Mark I, II, III or IV handguns does not meet this definition either, since it does not contain a hammer. In fact, most autoloading handguns do not fit this definition. And, this begs the question of how to address hammerless firearms.

Regardless, I don't think that any FFL is going to be selling AR lowers without a Form 4473 anytime soon (except maybe Franklin Arms, which specializes in loopholes ), but it will be interesting to see how things play out. And let me be clear - I am not recommending anyone test this with the authorities. I am posting it for interest only. Practically, for the vast majority of us, I doubt little will change, inertia being what it is.

In the current environment with all the brouhaha concerning mass shootings, if Congress wanted to redefine what a firearm is, it could probably happen pretty quickly. If they do, I am virtually certain it will not make life easier for us law-abiding citizens.

NOTE TO MODS: I don't see this as a political issue, but if you do, I will not be offended if you delete it. I would hate, however, for anyone who is attempting to be legal and is attending an AR "build party" to get caught in the legal cross fire (pun intended).

Last edited by FALPhil; 10-13-2019 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 10-13-2019, 03:15 PM
LeverGunFan
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My understanding is that the US v. Roh case was dropped via a plea deal, so that the opinion was not filed and thus is not binding. Here is a link to an article that explains the case. Until someone else successfully challenges the ATF definition of a lower as a firearm in court, the classification of a lower as a firearm has not changed, and your advice to not test the current system is valid.
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Old 10-14-2019, 04:53 PM
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My understanding also, the Feds choose to not prosecute so that the legal definition wouldn't change. Basically nothings changed.
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Old 10-14-2019, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 59801 View Post
My understanding also, the Feds choose to not prosecute so that the legal definition wouldn't change. Basically nothings changed.
They dropped the case because by their own definition; an AR-15 lower would not qualify as a firearm. I believe because the barrel cannot attach to the lower, but attaches to the upper. So they know according to the Law, that an AR-15 lower doesn't qualify as a Firearm, and if they prosecuted this guy, they would not have a case.

it was better to give him a slap on the wrist, rather than admit that the definition of a Firearm, doesn't technically apply to a lower, in this case.
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