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  #1  
Old 07-07-2018, 5:55 PM
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Default Is there a limit to how much a handgun receiver/frame can be modified

If you buy a commercially available/PPT/Exemption handgun, can you cut out any frame parts with a serial number and weld anything to it and have it be legal or is there some arbitrary bridge where it's then manufacturing?
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Old 07-07-2018, 6:15 PM
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You can't deface/remove/restamp in different area the serial number in any way. As long as the manufacture info and number stay in place you can do anything you want to it.
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Old 07-07-2018, 6:54 PM
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Manufacturing will really come into play if you are doing this to resell. Doing it for yourself probably won't result in any issues, but as soon as you start modifying to sell then you'll need an 07 FFL etc.

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If you buy a commercially available/PPT/Exemption handgun, can you cut out any frame parts with a serial number and weld anything to it and have it be legal or is there some arbitrary bridge where it's then manufacturing?
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Old 07-07-2018, 9:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
If you buy a commercially available/PPT/Exemption handgun, can you cut out any frame parts with a serial number and weld anything to it and have it be legal or is there some arbitrary bridge where it's then manufacturing?
It's illegal (felony) to alter, remove, or deface any manufacturer's marking info (make, model, serial number, and other identifiying marks). [PC 23900]

It is legal to add additional info, but not legal to remove any info. [PC 23915(a)]



Penal Code 23900
Any person who changes, alters, removes, or obliterates the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification, including any distinguishing number or mark assigned by the Department of Justice, on any pistol, revolver, or any other firearm, without first having secured written permission from the department to make that change, alteration, or removal shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

Penal Code 23915
(a) Any person may place or stamp on any pistol, revolver, or other firearm any number or identifying indicium, provided the number or identifying indicium does not change, alter, remove, or obliterate the manufacturer’s name, number, model, or other mark of identification.
(b) This section does not prohibit restoration by the owner of the name of the maker or model, or of the original manufacturer’s number or other mark of identification, when that restoration is authorized by the department.
(c) This section does not prevent any manufacturer from placing in the ordinary course of business the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification upon a new firearm.
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Old 07-07-2018, 9:54 PM
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So a stipple job on a Glock that erases the "Glock" logo on the handle is illegal? I guess you learn something every day.

Can I deface the slide where is says Glock, model and caliber?
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  #6  
Old 07-08-2018, 3:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiet View Post
It's illegal (felony) to alter, remove, or deface any manufacturer's marking info (make, model, serial number, and other identifiying marks). [PC 23900]

It is legal to add additional info, but not legal to remove any info. [PC 23915(a)]

Penal Code 23900
Any person who changes, alters, removes, or obliterates the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification, including any distinguishing number or mark assigned by the Department of Justice, on any pistol, revolver, or any other firearm, without first having secured written permission from the department to make that change, alteration, or removal shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

Penal Code 23915
(a) Any person may place or stamp on any pistol, revolver, or other firearm any number or identifying indicium, provided the number or identifying indicium does not change, alter, remove, or obliterate the manufacturer’s name, number, model, or other mark of identification.
(b) This section does not prohibit restoration by the owner of the name of the maker or model, or of the original manufacturer’s number or other mark of identification, when that restoration is authorized by the department.
(c) This section does not prevent any manufacturer from placing in the ordinary course of business the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification upon a new firearm.
The scenario I envision is let's say you buy a Kaboomed pistol, the frame is a mangled mess. Could you cut out the section of frame that has the serial number, weld it to a block of billet and make a new pistol from.the billet, legally?

I'm not removing/obliterating the serial/Make/etc. Except that it's no longer attached to its original metal. There doesn't seem to be a clear line between removing a marking from a frame and making the frame something else.

At what point would one be 'removing' a mark vs modifying the current frame?

I think we would all agree that we could skeletonize an AR lower. However, could I remove the magwell area (except serial) buffer tube area, trigger group area, etc. Leaving only marked areas and restore it to a completely different configuration?

Is there any legal difference if the frame was made inoperable prior to rebuilding the marked pieces?

Arguably, the threshold has to exist. If I removed a marked area in a complete section many designs would still be operable and the markings are intact (but separated). I could see this being a PC violation, yet, what about using an angle grinder to 'mill' the frame TO the marked areas?

Last edited by Fizz; 07-08-2018 at 3:28 AM..
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  #7  
Old 07-08-2018, 4:15 AM
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Are you serious?

Hi Mr. Becerra :wave:
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  #8  
Old 07-08-2018, 6:26 AM
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I don’t think anyone would get in trouble for stippling over the little Glock logo on the lower left side of the grip, even though the penal code suggests that might technically be illegal. I would probably not stipple over the little rectangle on the upper right side of the grip that says “Glock inc Smyrna Georgia”

I’m not sure where the “threshold “ is, but remember that the serial number is linked to a registration. So I would assume that once you make changes to the frame that run afoul to that registration, it would not be legal. For example, You cannot take the dust cover with serial off a Glock 19 and fuse them on to a Glock 17 to make your own 19x. If a gun went kaboom and he frame was unable to be fixed, I assume the only option would be to report it as destroyed.

Last edited by boopiejones; 07-08-2018 at 6:29 AM..
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Old 07-08-2018, 6:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan275 View Post
So a stipple job on a Glock that erases the "Glock" logo on the handle is illegal? I guess you learn something every day.

Can I deface the slide where is says Glock, model and caliber?
That doesn’t matter. Look at all the milled slides, aftermarket slides, etc. as long as the serial number is intact and in its original location, you’re good to go.
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  #10  
Old 07-09-2018, 2:00 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbo74 View Post
Are you serious?

Hi Mr. Becerra :wave:
I've been on the board longer than you, yet you accuse me of shilling.
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  #11  
Old 07-09-2018, 10:14 AM
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You are the one asking if you can remove a serial number from one gun and put it on another...

I might as well just swap license plates on my cars..

Shill on.....
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  #12  
Old 07-09-2018, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbo74 View Post
You are the one asking if you can remove a serial number from one gun and put it on another...

I might as well just swap license plates on my cars..

Shill on.....
That's not the distinction or the technical legal discussion at all.
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Old 07-10-2018, 4:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
That's not the distinction or the technical legal discussion at all.
Quote:
can you cut out any frame parts with a serial number and weld anything to it and have it be legal
sounds exactly what the discussion is
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Old 07-10-2018, 5:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo74 View Post
sounds exactly what the discussion is
No. You said transfer it to another firearm, blocks of billet aren't firearms nor is welding sections of metal to a segment that contains markings necessarily a different firearm.

Think of it like a VW bug-based sandrail. The frame is what makes it a VW for legal purposes, you can twist the frame or hack it up and it's still a VW as long as you keep the VIN portions intact. Doesn't matter if you cut up the frame and turned it into a pickup truck, you would still register, insure and title it as a 19XX VW.

Regardless, you're missing the point and are likely being deliberately obtuse. I'm trying to find of there's any prohibition on modifying a frame. Others were helpful and cited PC about removal of a marking/serial from a frame which lead to discussion about the technicalities surrounding 'removal' under the PC. If I mill down the frame to the markings, arguably I didn't remove the markings but the material around it, just like a sandrail.

Your only criticism is that I'm a Becerra shill. You cite no statute or case law that says that this would be prohibited.

Now, care to cite some statute or case law?
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Old 07-10-2018, 6:24 AM
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Find it for yourself since you don't like what people are telling you. Simple
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  #16  
Old 07-10-2018, 6:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Jimmy's View Post
Find it for yourself since you don't like what people are telling you. Simple
Another one so acute to the point of obtuse.

I've only taken point with Jimbo. No one else. Jimbo hasn't made any point based on fact, law or precedent, just unabashed and unfouded criticism that I'm a Becerra shill that wants to transfer markings between operable firearms. Jimbo hasn't said anything of SUBSTANCE for me to not like or refuse.

I found the others that cite of the PC helpful and worthy of further analysis to its implications. At no point didn't I say I didn't like or agree.
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Old 07-10-2018, 6:36 AM
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What modifications do you specifically have in mind? I’m sure there is a lot of grey area. It’s like trying to define what is pornography... I’ll know it when I see it.
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Old 07-10-2018, 6:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
No. You said transfer it to another firearm, blocks of billet aren't firearms nor is welding sections of metal to a segment that contains markings necessarily a different firearm.

Think of it like a VW bug-based sandrail. The frame is what makes it a VW for legal purposes, you can twist the frame or hack it up and it's still a VW as long as you keep the VIN portions intact. Doesn't matter if you cut up the frame and turned it into a pickup truck, you would still register, insure and title it as a 19XX VW.

Regardless, you're missing the point and are likely being deliberately obtuse. I'm trying to find of there's any prohibition on modifying a frame. Others were helpful and cited PC about removal of a marking/serial from a frame which lead to discussion about the technicalities surrounding 'removal' under the PC. If I mill down the frame to the markings, arguably I didn't remove the markings but the material around it, just like a sandrail.

Your only criticism is that I'm a Becerra shill. You cite no statute or case law that says that this would be prohibited.

Now, care to cite some statute or case law?
Fizz,

I'm a bit of a late arrival to this particular thread, but whether or not the law or citation exists is less relevant than something called a "test case".

As I see it, the applicable law and statute has been cited, but go ahead. Do the modification if you feel the desire.

Another poster mentioned the difference between keeping and reselling. If you keep it, likely no issue unless a cop on the range sees it and wants to make a case. If you sell it, you're asking to be a "test case".

Test cases are expensive and not guaranteed. I think you know that.

The down side to this is that I see it going bad this way: you could be potentially charged with an illegal modification of a weapon or if you try to sell it immediately after, than illegal manufacture of a weapon, especially if it's markedly different than the original design.

Just sayin...
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  #19  
Old 07-10-2018, 6:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supersapper View Post
Fizz,

I'm a bit of a late arrival to this particular thread, but whether or not the law or citation exists is less relevant than something called a "test case".

As I see it, the applicable law and statute has been cited, but go ahead. Do the modification if you feel the desire.

Another poster mentioned the difference between keeping and reselling. If you keep it, likely no issue unless a cop on the range sees it and wants to make a case. If you sell it, you're asking to be a "test case".

Test cases are expensive and not guaranteed. I think you know that.

The down side to this is that I see it going bad this way: you could be potentially charged with an illegal modification of a weapon or if you try to sell it immediately after, than illegal manufacture of a weapon, especially if it's markedly different than the original design.

Just sayin...
Certainly wouldn't want to be the test case, but there's likely someone who already who's tried or got an opinion letter, etc. I have to think someone's tried to turn a Glock or similar into an AR pistol, for example.
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Old 07-10-2018, 6:48 AM
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What modifications do you specifically have in mind? I’m sure there is a lot of grey area. It’s like trying to define what is pornography... I’ll know it when I see it.
SCOTUS definition of obscene material, you know it when you see it.

Well, I'll proffer this scenario. I take a 1911 frame, grind it down to the segments with markings, take those segments and weld it to billet and build an AR pistol.

What PC/case law prevents that? I think that method sidesteps the prohibition on removing a marking.
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Old 07-10-2018, 7:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
SCOTUS definition of obscene material, you know it when you see it.

Well, I'll proffer this scenario. I take a 1911 frame, grind it down to the segments with markings, take those segments and weld it to billet and build an AR pistol.

What PC/case law prevents that? I think that method sidesteps the prohibition on removing a marking.
So you would basically be welding about an inch of metal from a 1911 frame onto an 80% (or 0%) AR frame and then building that into an AR pistol?
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Old 07-10-2018, 7:05 AM
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So you would basically be welding about an inch of metal from a 1911 frame onto an 80% (or 0%) AR frame and then building that into an AR pistol?
Not an actual plan of mine, but a situation that if it had any stumbling blocks, would definitely contain them.

But yes, that's the basic idea.
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Old 07-10-2018, 1:16 PM
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Interesting question Fizz.
Way to go for thinking outside the box. It’s will be interesting how this thread takes hold.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
The scenario I envision is let's say you buy a Kaboomed pistol, the frame is a mangled mess. Could you cut out the section of frame that has the serial number, weld it to a block of billet and make a new pistol from.the billet, legally?
Not legally.

Doing this would also violate Federal laws/regulations. [18 USC 922(k)]
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
SCOTUS definition of obscene material, you know it when you see it.

Well, I'll proffer this scenario. I take a 1911 frame, grind it down to the segments with markings, take those segments and weld it to billet and build an AR pistol.

What PC/case law prevents that? I think that method sidesteps the prohibition on removing a marking.
It begs the question “why would you?”
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Old 07-11-2018, 1:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 808@515 View Post
It begs the question “why would you?”
Bypass roster, salvage a damaged frame, for fun/just because you could.
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Old 07-11-2018, 1:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Quiet View Post
Not legally.

Doing this would also violate Federal laws/regulations. [18 USC 922(k)]
That looks analogous to the CA PC you cited earlier. I think the way to sidestep that is to dismantle the frame to the marked areas in such a way that the frame is removed from the markings, not the markings from the frame.

For example, grind down a frame on a grinding wheel from the outside TO the marked areas.

I'll use an AR lower for an example. We'll play pretend and say this is already a pistol lower.

If we start with a commercial lower such as this:



I think we can agree skeletonizing it like the below is legal (We're ignoring the changes to the marking positions, only used as a ref to skeletonizing):



I'm just saying we take it 1 step further, and only leave this:



And then attach it to this:



And make it into something like this:



At what step(s) are we committing the crime?
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  #28  
Old 07-11-2018, 2:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
At what step(s) are we committing the crime?
1. Removed the manufacturer's info from the firearm.
2. Attached that info to another firearm.
Violates Federal laws/regulations. [18 USC 922(k)]

Only the firearm's manufacturer is allowed to legally re-apply a serial number they issued to a firearm that was destroyed or significantly damaged to another firearm as a method of repairing or replacing the destroyed/damaged firearm.

From what I can remember...
In the past, several people were arrested for possessing unregistered MGs due to this type of shenanigans.
During the late-1990s, a 07-FFL took several dozen registered fully-transferable pre-'86 MAC M-10 MGs and cut them up. The 07-FFL then welded the side plate containing the orginal manufacturer's info to new M-60 MGs (made from Saco Defense parts kits) and sold those M-60s as registered fully-transferable pre-'86 MGs. It took several years before BATFE caught on to what was going on. The 07-FFL was convicted of making and selling post-86 MGs. People who bought the M-60s had them confiscated.

There may have been a similar case during the mid-2000s, involving a fully-transferable pre-'86 M-11/9 MG being marked onto a M-249 MG and sold as a fully-transferable pre-'86 MG.

It's because of that nonsense is why BATFE is enforcing the fact that only the original manfuacturer of a firearm is legally allowed to apply marking info from one their firearm on to a new firearm, of the same design, that they've made.
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Last edited by Quiet; 07-11-2018 at 2:33 AM..
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  #29  
Old 07-11-2018, 2:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiet View Post
1. Removed the manufacturer's info from the firearm.
2. Attached that info to another firearm.
Violates Federal laws/regulations. [18 USC 922(k)]

Only the firearm's manufacturer is allowed to legally re-apply a serial number they issued to a firearm that was destroyed or significantly damaged to another firearm as a method of repairing or replacing the destroyed/damaged firearm.

From what I can remember...
In the past, several people were arrested for possessing unregistered MGs due to this type of shenangans.
During the late-1990s, a 07-FFL took several dozen registered MAC M-10 MGs and cut them up. The 07-FFL then welded the side plate containing the orginal manufacturer's info to new M-60 MGs (made from Saco Defense parts kits) and sold those M-60s as registered MGs. It took several years before BATFE caught on to what was going on. The 07-FFL was convicted of making and selling post-86 MGs. People who bought the M-60s had them confiscated.

That was one of the cases/reasons why BATFE is enforcing the fact that only the original manfuacturer of a firearm is legally allowed to apply marking info from one firearm on to a new firearm of the same design.
1. Essentially you're arguing there's a threshold between skeletonizing a frame and removing material down to the marked areas? How much/what material can you remove before you've removed/altered the marking from the frame VS modified the frame?

2. Blocks of billet aren't operable arms, I would argue that a much like a VW-bug sandrail, it's the VIN/Frame that constitutes the car. The marked areas, by themselves ARE the firearm. Once the marked area is attached to billet, the billet/plate is one piece and the whole thing is a firearm already, it just isn't operable.

I'll see if I can find details on the situation described and see what argued and related dispositions were.
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Old 07-11-2018, 6:06 AM
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Why bother cutting off the markings when you could just engrave them in the new material? I’ve read interns rumor of companies building new frames for customers with the same serial number after a kaboom to avoid having to re dros, but can’t comment on whether or not it is legal.
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Old 07-11-2018, 2:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Pupulepeter View Post
Why bother cutting off the markings when you could just engrave them in the new material? I’ve read interns rumor of companies building new frames for customers with the same serial number after a kaboom to avoid having to re dros, but can’t comment on whether or not it is legal.
Manufactures are allowed to do that. Us peasants are not.
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Old 07-11-2018, 2:53 PM
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As Quiet pointed out earlier, i think pc23900 makes it illegal to do what you’re suggesting. You would be removing identification from a firearm. That’s illegal per pc23900. Just because you plan to destroy the firearm in the process doesn’t make it any less illegal. And then putting that same identification on a block of metal and making a new firearm is probably extra super duper doubly illegal, but I don’t know the PC that governs that.
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Old 07-11-2018, 7:43 PM
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Boopiejones that was funny.... The extra super duper part...Thank you for that.

Thank you Quiet for offering the example that you did. That pretty much said it all for me.
Keeping in mind when a firearm is transferred via Manufacture to FFL the only info that needs to be recorded is firearm manufacture, type, caliber and serial number. Yes dates also. For type it’s either handgun or long gun. Normally no further distinction is required. DROS of course here in Calif does require further information.
As I see it if you took a Glock and made a AR Glock this would be illegal. Easily since Glock does not manufacture a rifle style or pistol AR. I know of the conversions that still require the frame of the handgun.

If you manufacture a completely different firearm or even just manufacture any firearm using a host firearms serial number and other info it’s illegal.
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Old 07-11-2018, 7:56 PM
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Originally Posted by boopiejones View Post
As Quiet pointed out earlier, i think pc23900 makes it illegal to do what you’re suggesting. You would be removing identification from a firearm. That’s illegal per pc23900. Just because you plan to destroy the firearm in the process doesn’t make it any less illegal. And then putting that same identification on a block of metal and making a new firearm is probably extra super duper doubly illegal, but I don’t know the PC that governs that.
I would agree that removing marked areas only probably violates the law. I think we would laymen and instinctively assume that grinding a frame to the marked areas would be 'removal', but as exampled, we could drill a hole in the frame without issue, or skeletonize a lower, so at what point of material removal do we cross into having removed a marking?

The threshold for such an act has to be arbitrary if it exists.
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Old 07-11-2018, 8:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Matt P View Post
Keeping in mind when a firearm is transferred via Manufacture to FFL the only info that needs to be recorded is firearm manufacture, type, caliber and serial number. Yes dates also. For type it’s either handgun or long gun. Normally no further distinction is required. DROS of course here in Calif does require further information.
As I see it if you took a Glock and made a AR Glock this would be illegal. Easily since Glock does not manufacture a rifle style or pistol AR. I know of the conversions that still require the frame of the handgun.

If you manufacture a completely different firearm or even just manufacture any firearm using a host firearms serial number and other info it’s illegal.
So, let's take a glock, you mill out the backstrap area, custom make a 10 round mag and make the slide assembly capable of chambering .17 HMR.

I don't think that's illegal at all.
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Old 07-12-2018, 5:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
I would agree that removing marked areas only probably violates the law. I think we would laymen and instinctively assume that grinding a frame to the marked areas would be 'removal', but as exampled, we could drill a hole in the frame without issue, or skeletonize a lower, so at what point of material removal do we cross into having removed a marking?

The threshold for such an act has to be arbitrary if it exists.
I think the problem is that as you’re grinding away the frame, at some point you have “destroyed” the firearm. If you pass that point, then the serial number bearing piece is just a piece of metal, and welding it to a different would-be firearm is really no different than engraving the info directly, which we agree is illegal.

So when is it “destroyed?” I think the ATF has some examples of how hacked up various receivers have to be to be considered destroyed.
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Old 07-12-2018, 6:08 AM
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I think the problem is that as you’re grinding away the frame, at some point you have “destroyed” the firearm. If you pass that point, then the serial number bearing piece is just a piece of metal, and welding it to a different would-be firearm is really no different than engraving the info directly, which we agree is illegal.

So when is it “destroyed?” I think the ATF has some examples of how hacked up various receivers have to be to be considered destroyed.
Not illegal to destroy a firearm, nor rebuild it if it is destroyed/damaged except where markings are concerned.

Except if you maybe reported it destroyed/surrendered and it appeared back in circulation at some point. Or maybe if it was in a police evidence locker or other weird scenario that wouldn't likely apply.

The question is really if a hunk of marked metal is legally a firearm. If it is, then adding other of metal should be no problem for the same reason you could weld a large metal rod arbitrarily to a frame.

Last edited by Fizz; 07-12-2018 at 6:15 AM..
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Old 07-12-2018, 6:13 AM
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These are the cuts required by ATF for a firearm to be "destroyed"

"Must be made at angles and completely sever the receiver in at least 3 critical locations (specified by model)...

1 Must pass through the forward wall or barrel mounting area
2 Must pass through the rear wall
3 Must pass through an area having a critical fire-control-component mounting pin and/or the slot in which the operating handle reciprocates"

It is my belief that if simply cutting these areas is considered destruction, completely grinding them to oblivion would also be considered destruction.
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Old 07-12-2018, 6:20 AM
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If you destroy a firearm and it is no longer a firearm, and then take the serial number plate and weld it to a new firearm (or block of aluminum which you then manufacture into a firearm), you have manufactured a different firearm.

You use the VW example above. If I take the same VW VIN tag, remove it and place it on a fully restored '57 chevy, does the chevy become a VW or does the Chevy become a Chevy with an illegal VIN tag?

If you are trying to use the same serial number to circumvent an existing law, it would be fascinating to see the results of the test case.
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Old 07-12-2018, 6:38 AM
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Originally Posted by SoldierLife7 View Post
These are the cuts required by ATF for a firearm to be "destroyed"

"Must be made at angles and completely sever the receiver in at least 3 critical locations (specified by model)...

1 Must pass through the forward wall or barrel mounting area
2 Must pass through the rear wall
3 Must pass through an area having a critical fire-control-component mounting pin and/or the slot in which the operating handle reciprocates"

It is my belief that if simply cutting these areas is considered destruction, completely grinding them to oblivion would also be considered destruction.
Potentially. Just read that as well.

The solution would be to leave enough material that it's not considered destroyed?
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