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View Full Version : Owning a short barrel upper without a dedicated lower?


Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 5:00 PM
Ok ive done some reading online and it seem a bit confusing. so let me first state the question:

Can I own, in California, a short barrel upper without having a dedicated lower? ( i own a sig 516 )

Ive found some people that say this is "constructive intent". Just having an upper and a lower makes you guilty, even if the lower is for a different rifle and stays attached to that rifle. The general consensus is to get a pistol lower for the upper and register it as such. This seems a bit stupid. if just having the upper with out a dedicated lower is considered "constructive intent", then having the upper on a pistol lower while you also have a rifle lower in the house could sill be considered as such.

Aslo can someone post a link to the actual legal code for "constructive intent" ive been looking for about 2 hours now and I still cant find it.
Thanks.

socal-shooter
04-12-2012, 5:03 PM
seen a bunch of em for sale at the costa mesa gun show, i wondered the same

chead
04-12-2012, 5:13 PM
If you have a short upper and no lower legal to use it with, constructive intent is going to be pretty difficult to disprove. If you have a pistol/SBR lower, then it's at least conceivable that you're keeping it legal.

Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 5:23 PM
If you have a short upper and no lower legal to use it with, constructive intent is going to be pretty difficult to disprove. If you have a pistol/SBR lower, then it's at least conceivable that you're keeping it legal.

or with the same argument I would say its hard to prove. How can you say I have constructive intent when I have no lower for it? the only lower I own is in use on my other rifle.

Arkangel
04-12-2012, 5:36 PM
or with the same argument I would say its hard to prove. How can you say I have constructive intent when I have no lower for it? the only lower I own is in use on my other rifle.

If I where you I would save myself the headache involved in trying to find logic in CA gun laws.

Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 5:40 PM
If I where you I would save myself the headache involved in trying to find logic in CA gun laws.

lol I totally agree. BUT im planing on moving to Arizona in a few years ( saving up and looking for jobs there ) between now and then if I find a good SB upper for a good price I would like to be able to pick it up so when I get to AZ I can get a lower and register it as a NFA weapon.

vintagearms
04-12-2012, 5:47 PM
There is an ATF letter floating around suggesting to have at least a pistol lower if you also own a short barrelled upper, if you do not have a registered SBR. The cost is going to be the same when you move out of state. Personally I woulnt bother.

MrPlink
04-12-2012, 6:19 PM
You own a 516, which as I take it is NOT


1) a pistol variant
2) has a NFA tax stamp for a SBR

in which case, you CANNOT posses a short barreled upper, as that would be CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION.

If you look at the way NFA laws are practiced the presumption tends to favor gov, in other words they dont have to try very hard to get a conviction.

This has been discussed here and elsewhere a million times over. Do some homework.
If you want to insist to yourself that it is legal for you to do so, I also urge you go and sign a retainer agreement in the near future.

TNP'R
04-12-2012, 6:23 PM
Well since you just outted yourself on a public forum, I'd get rid of it if I were you.

CSACANNONEER
04-12-2012, 6:27 PM
If I where you I would save myself the headache involved in trying to find logic in CA gun laws.

Why are you even talking about CA law here? This is a FEDERAL issue and illegal in all 50 states.

chris
04-12-2012, 6:28 PM
You own a 516, which as I take it is NOT


1) a pistol variant
2) has a NFA tax stamp for a SBR

in which case, you CANNOT posses a short barreled upper, as that would be CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION.

If you look at the way NFA laws are practiced the presumption tends to favor gov, in other words they dont have to try very hard to get a conviction.

This has been discussed here and elsewhere a million times over. Do some homework.
If you want to insist to yourself that it is legal for you to do so, I also urge you go and sign a retainer agreement in the near future.

this^^^^^

dachan
04-12-2012, 6:43 PM
Why are you even talking about CA law here? This is a FEDERAL issue and illegal in all 50 states.

^ This

OP, the reason you can't find CA PC on it is because it is a Federal NFA issue. Go to the ATF website and search again.

If I where you I would save myself the headache involved in trying to find logic in CA gun laws.

Not a CA gun law.

Arkangel
04-12-2012, 8:25 PM
^^^ Correct. My mistake.

tacticalcity
04-12-2012, 8:38 PM
or with the same argument I would say its hard to prove. How can you say I have constructive intent when I have no lower for it? the only lower I own is in use on my other rifle.

You are dealing with ATF on this one. Judges accept their intreptation of the law without question, and the opinion letters are clear. This is a really old question...the answer has not changed.

Don't be an idiot. Spend the extra $250 on a complete pistol lower and save yourself legal trouble, and a felony charge.

Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 9:13 PM
wow I love all the hostility, its so warm a fuzzy. I'm glad there's such a good loving community where people can post there questions.

1) I didn't out my self, I don't own a upper.

2) awesome its a federal law. Now I know. Thank you for correcting me.

3) I did some home work as I said in my original post. The best I could find was a thread on AR15.com that was 3 years old taking about it. I wanted more recent information ( http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=8&f=11&t=353805 )

4) I'm not insisting anything to MY SELF, that's the point of a forum. I was simply arguing a point I believed would be valid to see if I was correct or not. Clearly I'm not.

Thanks for answering my questions in such a polite and professional manner:rolleyes:.

TNP'R
04-12-2012, 9:25 PM
wow I love all the hostility, its so warm a fuzzy. I'm glad there's such a good loving community where people can post there questions.

1) I didn't out my self, I don't own a upper.

2) awesome its a federal law. Now I know. Thank you for correcting me.

3) I did some home work as I said in my original post. The best I could find was a thread on AR15.com that was 3 years old taking about it. I wanted more recent information ( http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=8&f=11&t=353805 )

4) I'm not insisting anything to MY SELF, that's the point of a forum. I was simply arguing a point I believed would be valid to see if I was correct or not. Clearly I'm not.

Thanks for answering my questions in such a polite and professional manner:rolleyes:.

You're welcome, anything else we can help you with? :43:

Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 9:47 PM
You're welcome, anything else we can help you with? :43:

lol actually yes. I don't feel like I've been called an idiot enough today.

so would this apply to having all the parts for high cap mags in kali?

TNP'R
04-12-2012, 9:50 PM
Just don't assemble them into a high cap mag and you won't be an idiot.

Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 9:52 PM
Just don't assemble them into a high cap mag and you won't be an idiot.

I got that part. but according to this law just having the parts is as bad as putting them together. sooooo is it because the high cap mag ban isnt a federal law or what?

TNP'R
04-12-2012, 9:54 PM
To what law, i'm not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination but what I thought was you can have high cap parts you just can't use those parts to make a high cap mag. Am I the idiot?

dachan
04-12-2012, 9:56 PM
I got that part. but according to this law just having the parts is as bad as putting them together. sooooo is it because the high cap mag ban isnt a federal law or what?

The large capacity magazine restriction is a CA law and there is not a constructive possession component to that law.

Dantedamean
04-12-2012, 9:58 PM
To what law, i'm not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination but what I thought was you can have high cap parts you just can't use those parts to make a high cap mag. Am I the idiot?

Exactly, that's my understanding too. but under this " constructive possession law " you are guilty if you have all the parts to break the law. ( paraphrasing )
that's why I'm confused. it makes no sense if you can have the parts to make a high cap mag but not have the parts to make a SBR.

EDIT: post above was quicker than me :kest:

CSACANNONEER
04-15-2012, 10:33 AM
There are no "constructive possession" laws for magazines. There are "constructive possession" laws for SBRs. It's that simple. If you get confused comparing apples to clam chowder, it's no one's fault but yours.

digitalelf
04-15-2012, 11:22 AM
wow I love all the hostility, its so warm a fuzzy. I'm glad there's such a good loving community where people can post there questions.

Yes...

Welcome to Calguns; a place where a lot of the old-tymers feel the need to bash the new comers over the head with the catchy phrase of "Use the search button ya n00b!" to any question they personally are tired of hearing instead of just, oh I don’t know, answering the question with a little politeness and courtesy and moving on...

gunsarefun
04-15-2012, 11:45 AM
I think a few guys just thought you felt a little "argumentative" about the SBR thing. I can understand your frustration about it, but it really is pretty simple. A short barrel pistol upper is 100% legal with a pistol lower that goes with it. The law sees that same short barrel pistol upper, as a short barrel RIFLE upper if there is no matching pistol lower, now making it require a tax stamp or without, a felony possession, since short barrel RIFLE uppers are illegal. Like others said, that's federal, not ca. What sucks is Ca won't recognize a federal NFA tax stamp.

As for the magazine law, that is only here in CA, and as someone mentioned has no talk of constructive possession in the law. You can possess the parts to rebuild your ca legal pre 2000 ban standard capacity 30r mags.

The Gleam
04-15-2012, 12:07 PM
Yes...

Welcome to Calguns; a place where a lot of the old-timers feel the need to bash the new comers over the head with the catchy phrase of "Use the search button ya n00b!" to any question they personally are tired of hearing instead of just, oh I don’t know, answering the question with a little politeness and courtesy and moving on...

I have seen this growing aspect recently; but it's understandable as to why.

Many of these old-timers you are noting, used to be some of the most pleasant people on Calguns. There was very little learning curve from the start as most had been around firearms for a long, long while, and discussions were more like a "Think-Tank". However, their patience has begin to wane, and understandably is some cases. It's hard to restrain that irritation sometimes, and seeing it from afar, honestly I cut these guys some slack.

If it kid touches a hot burner on a stove, he gets burned, goes to the hospital and learns a lesson, but serious damage is done; however, if the parent can catch the kid in the act, and give the kid a good yelling at BEFORE touching the burner, it may hurt the child's feelings, but that's better than being burned, going to the hospital, and have a permanent scar (or worse). And hopefully getting yelled at is unpleasant enough that the kid remembers; so he doesn't get burned instead, ever.

As the pervasiveness of OLL/OLR featureless, and bullet-button builds grew out beyond the esoteric gun enthusiast crowd (such as people for whom like myself, when we exhale, you would think we gargle each morning with Hoppes No. 9) a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon did (or do) not even have rudimentary and basic gun knowledge, or basic gun safety for that matter (even more serious of an issue). This is akin to the kid that wants to touch the stove. He has no idea of the serious repercussions that may occur. So they get yelled at to stress the seriousness of the situation. A bit of scare intended.

I've seen a lot of stupid at the range lately, and a lot of stupid ACTUAL builds that just should not be, which to me and many others, seem like the most basic of firearm skill or knowledge.

Not so much here about the technical stuff, but in the past 3 years, more than once I've had to forcibly yell at someone to stop them from waving their pistol down the line of shooters with their finger on the trigger, because they were treating it like a frickin' super-soaker or Nintendo game controller.

I WON'T apologize for that (In fact, I don't even like to go to the range on the weekend anymore for that reason because it is SO prevalent, and the Range Officers can't be every where at once; and it's not my job to constantly worry or even babysit other patrons at the range.).

This new crowd entering the foray of build-anything in CA are going from Resident Evil and Halo (if young), or the memory of the 1 or 2 un-neutered guns they had in 1984 (if older), to buying an OLL AK in CA and then messing with it in all the wrong ways. Adding things, removing things, putting short barrels on rifles, or using standard high-cap mags on a BB build, featureless builds that still have flash-hiders, and just not researching the basic law and doing it wrong.

Some of the worry is that some will ruin it for everyone. Some of it is just the idea of yelling at you good enough to stress the seriousness in that you won't get burned by ATF or DOJ/BOF. ;)

Well, it's not mouthwash, but for the true lovers of Hoppes No. 9..... http://www.hoppes.com/products/ca_air_freshener.html

Beats a pine tree.

Gatotsu77
04-15-2012, 12:11 PM
or with the same argument I would say its hard to prove. How can you say I have constructive intent when I have no lower for it? the only lower I own is in use on my other rifle.

I realize your question has already been answered, but I wanted to respond to this question specifically, as it had not really been addressed. It would follow much more logically that on a modular designed item, (of any sort, a tool, a gun, etc.) one component which could operate multiple other attachments could conceivably be kept for the sole purpose of doing just that. To illustrate this point, I'll use a VERY simple analogy.

I purchase a hand-drill, and a number of drill-bits intended for wood-working. I could then later purchase a drill-bit intended for use on concrete, and operate said drill-bit with the originally purchased hand-drill, rather than purchasing another drill for the purpose of drilling concrete.

To compare this to your firearms; I could purchase a complete AR-type rifle, and where legally permitted (and assuming all paperwork is in order) I could purchase a separate short-barreled upper-receiver to be operated by the same lower-receiver. I would not necessarily have to own two separate lower-receivers to operate two upper-receivers designed for different purposes. I'm certain more than a few people on this very forum own multiple upper-receivers (chambered in different calibers, different barrel lengths/profiles, etc) for a single lower-receiver, and this follows logically, as each is capable of being operated by the same modular-designed lower-receiver. There would be TREMENDOUS burden upon yourself to prove your innocence if you were to own an upper-receiver capable of being attached to a lower-receiver in which configuration it could be considered an NFA weapon.

To entertain the concept of owning multiple lower-receivers for the same upper-receiver, I'm certain one could choose to do so. There are different accessories and different trigger kits, etc. that you could select from, and change out each lower given your chosen intent of use. Obviously you'd still need to be mindful of all state and federal laws pertaining to the functionality of each of these lower-receivers, but you could conceivably choose this path. (though perhaps a bit of a waste, as the upper-receiver bears more relevance to the overall functionality of the weapon)

As has been stated, the best course of action is to own a dedicated pistol lower-receiver for said short-barreled upper-receiver, to demonstrate your intent to stay within the letters of the law. You could conceivably swap which lower you had on each upper, (which would obviously not be recommended unless you had all the necessary steps/papers to legally own a SBR) but with a dedicated lower for each upper, it becomes much more believable (in court and otherwise) that your intent is to keep each weapon in its own legal configuration.