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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It seems that weasel words sometimes gang up and bite agencies like the ATF where it hurts the most.

A long ongoing case in California just resulted in the Federal prosecutors effectively dismissing charges due to the vague conflicting wording of ATF regulations versus the Federal statutes that enable them.

It's a case where agency rules don't quite align with the law, and the Federal prosecutors are afraid that continuing to pursue the accused violator may result in case law they don't want to see.

And.... (drum roll) it's all about the venerable AR-15 modern sporting rifle!

It would seem that a rather clever person in California that was fed up with all the overbearing regulation of firearms in California read the law very carefully, and came up with a solution to all the infringement. A solution that has the gun grabbers and ATF agents quite upset because it throws a monkey wrench into the core of how they are regulating firearms.

It would seem that the legal definition of a firearm "receiver" doesn't quite apply to the lower portion of an AR-15 receiver that is routinely regulated and serialized.

Of more interest, instead of selling 80% unfinished lower receivers, the accused violator setup a complete machine shop with automated CNC equipment, then sold all the unregulated parts of an AR-15 rifle to the customer along with a chunk of metal and access to his numerically controlled CNC machine. Even though the customer was the one that "pushed the button" to manufacture the AR-15 lower receiver, the ATF accused the business owner of being an unlicensed manufacturer.

Apparently there was a problem when you gave someone access to a machine and block of metal that wasn't serialized or regulated according to the ATF's wishes. But the case didn't hinge on that issue... In the words of Gomer Pyle, "surprise! Surprise!

The court case for this has dragged on for years. In the end, a rather thorough judge in California actually read the law, and then the ATF regulations. He found that the law does not describe the lower of an AR-15 as a "receiver" or a "firearm" because features of the legal definition of a "receiver" are not present on an AR-15 lower (they are actually part of an AR-15's upper receiver, which is not regulated, marked or serialized).

And yes, all kinds of "prohibited people" had been acquiring these "not a firearm"s...

Rather than risk making all finished un-serialized AR-15 lowers potentially unregulated, the ATF effectively dropped the case.

Oops... there goes all the "control".
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