PDA

View Full Version : At what point does a lower become a rifle?


mxpatriot51
12-12-2008, 12:21 PM
In regards to the new ATF 4473 form preventing persons under 21 but over 18from purchasing "other" weapons (stripped lowers), at what point does a lower become a rifle when you start adding parts?

I have had FFL's tell me anywhere from "just a buttstock and it's good to go" to "must be a complete and functioning rifle". In my opinion, just adding a buttstock makes the most sense, as it can no longer legally be a pistol at that point.

Also, would it be legal for the customer to add a buttstock to a stripped lower? I understand that gets into the whole "manufacturing" thing, but if the customer is doing it, would the customer be considered being the one who manufactured the lower? I know we are allowed to build a certain amount of firearms per year without a license so long as it is for personal use, so would that be legal?

Basically what I'm brainstorming on is the best way for those of us younger than 21 but older than 18 to be able to build up an AR-15 from a lower (I have no interest in purchasing a complete rifle, as I'd just end up stripping it nearly down to the lower and rebuilding it).

mecam
12-12-2008, 12:32 PM
When it's put together and fire rounds. ;)

natejosiah
12-12-2008, 12:34 PM
I'm pretty sure when it has a buttstock. Someone with references and more knowledge will have to solidify that.

Gator Monroe
12-12-2008, 12:47 PM
My Guess would be if ANY parts are installed into Lower ???????

The Cable Guy
12-12-2008, 12:50 PM
IIRC, the new ATF rule only restricts the sale of STRIPPED lowers to anyone under 21. If you get a lower with a stock attached, they can sell it to you. At least that was my understanding of the rule.

The only reason for this is because a lower without a stock can be built into a "pistol". Which requires that the buyer be 21 and over.

C.G.
12-13-2008, 12:38 AM
IIRC, the new ATF rule only restricts the sale of STRIPPED lowers to anyone under 21. If you get a lower with a stock attached, they can sell it to you. At least that was my understanding of the rule.

The only reason for this is because a lower without a stock can be built into a "pistol". Which requires that the buyer be 21 and over.

One can only build a pistol out of an AR-15 lower that has been designated and originally sold as such. Building a pistol out of an AR-15 rifle receiver is illegal.

gunrun45
12-13-2008, 2:00 AM
Actually...receivers do not have to be booked out by a manufacturer as a rifle or handgun. They can be booked out as a bare lower. Then the dealer books it in as a rifle, pistol or bare lower (in states outside CA for now). This is how CA legal AR pistols are being built. Lowers booked out from manufacturers as bare then built into pistols and DROS'ed as handguns. When I bought my first bare AR lower (after 2000) the dealer booked them all in as rifles. This permenantly made them rifles per ATF rulings. It would take an NFA stamp to do anything else with them legally. This is one of those points where the pen truely is mightier than the sword. It only takes one person booking in a receiver to make it legally a rifle if they don't know what they are doing.

Captain Evilstomper
12-13-2008, 4:21 AM
Actually...receivers do not have to be booked out by a manufacturer as a rifle or handgun. They can be booked out as a bare lower. Then the dealer books it in as a rifle, pistol or bare lower (in states outside CA for now). This is how CA legal AR pistols are being built. Lowers booked out from manufacturers as bare then built into pistols and DROS'ed as handguns.

that makes sense, if they were illegal for <18 only if made into a pistol, then it wouldn't be a problem if someting could only be made into a rifle, why would they make two laws making it illegal? so this seems to suggest that the DoJ thinks that it's legal to DROS a stripped lower and make it into a pistol.

gunrun45
12-13-2008, 4:37 AM
Well... that is the point that a few of our leading members are trying to point out to BOF (DOJ firearms). This is descussed at length much better (and by much better informed people than me) in the various legal threads in the 2nd ammendment section of this site.

CHS
12-13-2008, 10:33 AM
Yes, it is legal to make a pistol out of a receiver that has never had a buttstock attached and was 4473'ed and DROS'ed to you as a long gun.

However, if you do that you MUST make sure you send in the voluntary handgun registration form to the DoJ.,

spdrcr
12-13-2008, 11:02 AM
Yes, it is legal to make a pistol out of a receiver that has never had a buttstock attached and was 4473'ed and DROS'ed to you as a long gun.

However, if you do that you MUST make sure you send in the voluntary handgun registration form to the DoJ.,


Pretty sure that's not true for CA.

The lower has to be marked pistol and DROS'ed as a complete singe shot pistol. You can't just buy any old AR lower receiver and go build your own pistol at home (unless you start with a 0%-80% lower which you complete yourself).

freakshow10mm
12-13-2008, 11:52 AM
at what point does a lower become a rifle when you start adding parts?
When the buttstock is attached. Why? Once a shoulder stock has been added to a frame or receiver it is forever a rifle. You cannot take a receiver or frame that ever had a shoulder stock attached and make a pistol out of it as it would be manufacturing a short barrel rifle.

I know we are allowed to build a certain amount of firearms per year without a license so long as it is for personal use, so would that be legal?
Yes, personal use is legal and no manufacturing is taking place. It cannot be done prior to a transfer unless done by a licensed manufacturer and they have to mark the receiver in accordance to the GCA of 1968.

Basically what I'm brainstorming on is the best way for those of us younger than 21 but older than 18 to be able to build up an AR-15 from a lower (I have no interest in purchasing a complete rifle, as I'd just end up stripping it nearly down to the lower and rebuilding it).
Buy a complete lower with shoulder stock attached or buy a bare lower with stock attached. Those are your only options.

One can only build a pistol out of an AR-15 lower that has been designated and originally sold as such. Building a pistol out of an AR-15 rifle receiver is illegal.
Absolutely false. If the receiver has never had a shoulder stock attached you can build the receiver into a pistol.

Actually...receivers do not have to be booked out by a manufacturer as a rifle or handgun. They can be booked out as a bare lower. Then the dealer books it in as a rifle, pistol or bare lower (in states outside CA for now).
No, the dealer book nor 4473 changes the status of a firearm. When it is made by a manufacturer it is a receiver no matter what they mark it as. When it is built up into an actual working firearm or other accepted configuration (shoulder stock attached) then the configuration has changed. If done before a transfer on a 4473 it must be done by a licensed manufacturer. If done after there is no need to be licensed so long as it is for personal collection.

When I bought my first bare AR lower (after 2000) the dealer booked them all in as rifles. This permenantly made them rifles per ATF rulings.
This is false. A dealer cannot change the status of a firearm. Ever.

It would take an NFA stamp to do anything else with them legally. This is one of those points where the pen truely is mightier than the sword. It only takes one person booking in a receiver to make it legally a rifle if they don't know what they are doing.
Again, the log book for a dealer does not wave a magic wand and make it into something else. A dealer can log it in their bound book as a rifle receiver or pistol receiver as many times as they want to and it won't change the status that until it is built into a firearm or shoulder stock attached, it is always and forevermore a receiver and nothing more. Period.

4 Brigada
12-13-2008, 12:06 PM
Also something that the guys at PRK guns pointed out to me is if it starts out as a pistol and then you make it into a rifle you can not convert it back to a pistol ,it's a SBR

freakshow10mm
12-13-2008, 12:09 PM
Also something that the guys at PRK guns pointed out to me is if it starts out as a pistol and then you make it into a rifle you can not convert it back to a pistol ,it's a SBR
That is correct.

JeffM
12-13-2008, 12:13 PM
You can't just buy any old AR lower receiver and go build your own pistol at home (unless you start with a 0%-80% lower which you complete yourself).

That is being hashed out as far as the necessity to build into a single shot first, and I'm confident that you'll be proven wrong in the next few weeks.

We will see.


Also, for the home-built pistols, the DOJ registration paper-work is voluntary, not required.

ke6guj
12-13-2008, 12:28 PM
Pretty sure that's not true for CA.

The lower has to be marked pistol and DROS'ed as a complete singe shot pistol. You can't just buy any old AR lower receiver and go build your own pistol at home (unless you start with a 0%-80% lower which you complete yourself).

This is debatable, and AFAIK, a "long gun" 4473'd and DROS'd stripped virgin receiver is not a rifle since it never had a shoulder stock, and could be built as a pistol. A "pistol" marked AR lower is not required. We don't require 1911-pattern frames to be marked pistol in order to be built as a pistol (disregard the roster for a moment).

There is precident on converting "long gun" firearms that are not rifles or shotguns into pistols legally. But, I think the safe bet right now is to first establish NRF'ing true pistol frames before we expand it to include older "long gun" DROSed virgin receivers.

gunrun45
12-13-2008, 5:56 PM
I'm not an FFL, but what you have said goes against everything else I have ever read regarding building AR pistols posted on ar15.com
They have several ATF ruling letters posted there and MANY, MANY threads about this topic posted over the years.

Also, if it were this simple why would the legal leaders on THIS board bother taking parts kits to dealers here in CA to assemble their lowers PRIOR to drosing them on special lowers booked in either as pistols? This has been beaten to death in the 2nd amendment section of this board already.



When the buttstock is attached. Why? Once a shoulder stock has been added to a frame or receiver it is forever a rifle. You cannot take a receiver or frame that ever had a shoulder stock attached and make a pistol out of it as it would be manufacturing a short barrel rifle.


Yes, personal use is legal and no manufacturing is taking place. It cannot be done prior to a transfer unless done by a licensed manufacturer and they have to mark the receiver in accordance to the GCA of 1968.


Buy a complete lower with shoulder stock attached or buy a bare lower with stock attached. Those are your only options.


Absolutely false. If the receiver has never had a shoulder stock attached you can build the receiver into a pistol.


No, the dealer book nor 4473 changes the status of a firearm. When it is made by a manufacturer it is a receiver no matter what they mark it as. When it is built up into an actual working firearm or other accepted configuration (shoulder stock attached) then the configuration has changed. If done before a transfer on a 4473 it must be done by a licensed manufacturer. If done after there is no need to be licensed so long as it is for personal collection.


This is false. A dealer cannot change the status of a firearm. Ever.


Again, the log book for a dealer does not wave a magic wand and make it into something else. A dealer can log it in their bound book as a rifle receiver or pistol receiver as many times as they want to and it won't change the status that until it is built into a firearm or shoulder stock attached, it is always and forevermore a receiver and nothing more. Period.

freakshow10mm
12-13-2008, 7:10 PM
I'm not an FFL, but what you have said goes against everything else I have ever read regarding building AR pistols posted on ar15.com
They have several ATF ruling letters posted there and MANY, MANY threads about this topic posted over the years.
ARFcom is the biggest source of misinformation on the internet regarding AR15 rifles.

Also, if it were this simple why would the legal leaders on THIS board bother taking parts kits to dealers here in CA to assemble their lowers PRIOR to drosing them on special lowers booked in either as pistols?
What they are doing may very well be illegal under the ATF's ruling on what manufacturing is, quoted above in the letter.

Since the manufacturing of the firearm is being done prior to transfer (sale) they need to be licensed as a manufacturer. If the customer is performing the act on the FFL's premises, they are non-compensated employee or agent of the FFL and thus the FFL needs to be licensed as a manufacturer and comply with marking requirements set forth in the GCA of 1968.

The scope of the 4473 is to record the firearm transfer. The form nor the dealer can change the status of a firearm merely by a pen stroke. A receiver is always a receiver until it is built into something else.

NeoWeird
12-13-2008, 7:33 PM
Since the manufacturing of the firearm is being done prior to transfer (sale) they need to be licensed as a manufacturer. If the customer is performing the act on the FFL's premises, they are non-compensated employee or agent of the FFL and thus the FFL needs to be licensed as a manufacturer and comply with marking requirements set forth in the GCA of 1968.

The scope of the 4473 is to record the firearm transfer. The form nor the dealer can change the status of a firearm merely by a pen stroke. A receiver is always a receiver until it is built into something else.

They MIGHT also be eligible to be charged with tax evassion for not paying the 11% excise tax on a complete firearm. By allowing the person to assemble the firearm on their premise prior to sale, then it COULD be argued that the person, acting as an outsourced agent of the FFL, is assembling the firearm for sale, which can not be completed without the pistol being completed. The FFL would be responsible for the excise tax.

Then again, from what I have seen, the pistols being done are usually set up by the individuals themselves, as out of state transfers, and what is 11% of $0 that the dealer is selling them for? This of course also goes back to what you were saying about manufacturing prior to sale.

Now if the FFL is not actually selling anything, then the question comes up between the transferring party and the receiving party. At least that's the way I see it.

gunrun45
12-13-2008, 7:50 PM
So you are saying that the ATF letter posted on ARF here:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=122&t=245366
written in 2004 that specifically states that the receiver should not be listed as a rifle on the paperwork if it is to be built into a pistol is false?
Link to enlarged version:
http://www.jcweaponry.com/images/ar15/BB.JPG

freakshow10mm
12-13-2008, 8:17 PM
They MIGHT also be eligible to be charged with tax evassion for not paying the 11% excise tax on a complete firearm. By allowing the person to assemble the firearm on their premise prior to sale, then it COULD be argued that the person, acting as an outsourced agent of the FFL, is assembling the firearm for sale, which can not be completed without the pistol being completed. The FFL would be responsible for the excise tax.
A manufacturer is exempt for the first 50 firearms they manufacture. After that the FET is due. Only manufacturers can pay FET on firearms they manufacture. A dealer cannot pay it as a dealer because they have to be licensed as a manufacturer.

Then again, from what I have seen, the pistols being done are usually set up by the individuals themselves, as out of state transfers, and what is 11% of $0 that the dealer is selling them for? This of course also goes back to what you were saying about manufacturing prior to sale.
The manufacturer must pay the FET based on what they sell it for, not the dealer. A dealer performing a transfer is not selling, they are distributing which is not manufacturing therefore FET is not even on the radar.

freakshow10mm
12-13-2008, 8:20 PM
So you are saying that the ATF letter posted on ARF here:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=122&t=245366
written in 2004 that specifically states that the receiver should not be listed as a rifle on the paperwork if it is to be built into a pistol is false?
Link to enlarged version:
http://www.jcweaponry.com/images/ar15/BB.JPG
Not to my knowledge it isn't correct. During my compliance interview I brought that letter up. The ATF stated there was confusion about that sentence in the letter in that it seems to refer the 4473 has power to change the configuration of the firearm when it doesn't. I have a new letter in the works that will clarify that issue.

gunrun45
12-13-2008, 8:56 PM
Great.
Please post a copy of it on this forum and provide a copy of it to Bwise when you receive your answer. I go with the written paperwork in hand that I can take to court to prove my intent to comply with the law.

It would save me a bunch of money if I could use some of the bare receivers I already have to build a few pistols and do the voluntary registration paperwork with CA DOJ to register them as handguns. All of them (but one registered AW pistol lower) were 4473'ed as rifles as there was no provision in CA to register them as otherwise at the time, not bare receivers. None have ever been built as anything.

NeoWeird
12-13-2008, 8:59 PM
A manufacturer is exempt for the first 50 firearms they manufacture. After that the FET is due. Only manufacturers can pay FET on firearms they manufacture. A dealer cannot pay it as a dealer because they have to be licensed as a manufacturer.


The manufacturer must pay the FET based on what they sell it for, not the dealer. A dealer performing a transfer is not selling, they are distributing which is not manufacturing therefore FET is not even on the radar.

That's my point exactly. The dealer won't get hit for manufacturing as they are distributing; still if the issue were brought up it would be between the person and the original seller. On the other hand, if the FFL were selling the receivers themselves, and did enough, they COULD be hit as an unlicensed manufacturer that hasn't paid taxes on the firearms they "manufactured". This may not be an issue at the current moment, but seeing as OLL guns aren't going anywhere for a while, in the next 10 years it IS a possability and should be considered by FFLs who are selling OLL pistol receivers.