CNN dropped a bomb that AR-15 regulations to allow for lower receivers to require background checks for purchases may be deeply flawed. Their article title is self-explanatory of the predicament: “He sold illegal AR-15s. Feds agreed to let him go free to avoid hurting gun control efforts.” If you have not read the CNN article, do so before continuing.
In short, because the government determined the lower receiver to be the firearm, but the actual regulation does not seem to apply, the government was unwilling to test their theory in court and potentially get unfavorable (to prosecutors) case law. So to enable prosecutions against stupid people with bad lawyers and to keep plea bargains rolling in, the government didn’t press its case.
I speculate that this article came forward when it did, shortly after California passed into a law banning purchase of “firearm precursor parts” like barrels and 80% frames without background checks (effective in 2024) to draw attention to the issue. I doubt that CNN would break a story like this without being part of a plot to move public and legislative opinion to creating new legislation. This is huge potential boon to gun owners and damning to gun control and the ATF, so it would be in the interest of leftist, anti-gun media to sit on the story.
The regulation (not a statute) in question is: 27 CFR § 479.11(a):
Frame or receiver. 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.
The argument in the case that the definition is not met by the AR-15 is that the lower receiver houses the hammer, while the upper houses the bolt and is threaded to accept the barrel. The jury is out on what exactly the firing mechanism is. Because both halves are required to complete the firearm, the ATF determined a long time ago that the lower receiver should be regulated as the firearm. Something had to be deemed “the receiver” in the (then) unconventional Stoner-Sullivan space rifle to regulate it.
This doesn’t just apply to the AR-15 only. In many H&K firearms and the FAL series, portions of what we’d term the upper receiver are deemed the firearm.
Congress has ignored the issue and ATF has danced around it because it would hinder government prosecutions if the status quo changed. Many convictions could be reversed if this line was pursued. This is not in the government’s or ATF’s interest. Of course, Congress or courts could simply affirm the status quo. A devil’s advocate examination of the regulation could be used to support the status quo definition.
“That part of the firearm” must house either the hammer, bolt, or firing mechanism. It is also “usually” threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel. Only one item being required to be housed in the receiver and “usually” means “commonly or ordinarily”; not always. So because the lower receiver houses the hammer, it is a receiver because the regulation, using the operative word “or” does not require the hammer, bolt, and breechblock to be in the same “part of the firearm” which does not always have to be threaded for the barrel.
This sounds more like the upper receiver than the lower receiver, although I doubt one could say that the AR-15 has a breechblock and “that part which holds the bolt” is actually the bolt carrier, not the upper receiver (but that’s a little semantic for simpletons like judges and legislators). “Firing mechanism” is even more confusing because what does this mean: the firing pin, the trigger group, or what? The recent case of Safety Harbor’s .50 cal upper receiver conversion being classed as firearm seems to make more sense in this light.
The AR-15 receivers has to be mated together to unambiguously meet the regulatory definition, which is what helped people avoid charges by separating the gun or the process. These regulations date from a time when firearms were generally understood in the context of bolt-action rifles and shotguns where the receiver did all this.
The way forward is fraught with potential unintended consequences. A positive such consequence is that anyone charged with a violation regarding a lower receiver (perhaps a federal charge for transferring it across state lines without an FFL involved). Of course, this is rolling the dice that the prosecutors would be too scared of precedence to pursue the case.
Best case scenario is legislation or case law clarifies that the lower receiver is the firearm and everything stays the same. However, there is the great danger that any action going forward other than this results in serious blowback to the gun community.
I doubt we’ll get rid of background checks any time soon. Having to go to a physical location to obtain firearms merely so leftists can feel good that I’m not a known “bad guy” is very inconvenient. It will be more so if I have to do that for barrels and uppers. A 21st century solution would be an online Form 4473 that the buyer fills out, the computer instantly interfaces with NICS, and the package cannot be delivered except on signature of the actual buyer, confirmed with ID.
This solution would be no more problematic that today’s current scene. All the Brady checks do is scare felons from trying to buy from gun stores, which they can do, with varying levels of success and little chance of successful prosecution if they fail a background check. Guns are still stolen from homes, from stores, are bought out of some dude’s trunk on the black market, and straw purchases by friends, relatives, and girlfriends all happen with regularity. In fact, all banning private sales would do to reduce crime is perhaps allow the seller of those black market guns to be prosecuted at the expense of innocent gun transfers.
Ultimately, as ugly as it is that Roh was perhaps unwittingly help bad guys get guns, all of gun control is a failure at preventing crime. The retroactive punishment being caught is only a deterrent and a poor one at that. All laws can do is make obtaining a gun a little harder for criminals which exponentially negatively impacts the law abiding. We have to understand that criminals will be armed and will commit crimes regardless of the law. For many, that’s a difficult thing to believe so they rely on the magical thinking of gun control.
The action that the average gun owner needs to take is clear; get your guns now, especially ones you want off-the-books. Whether all semi-automatics are banned, regulated to death, or if legislation requires upper receivers to go through an FFL remains to be seen. It is clear that new restrictions are coming in the future and in a form that will make these easy days of cheap receivers shipped from Palmetto State Armory to your dealer or door will disappear. So get those receivers now, complete and 80%.
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A poster on a local gun form brought this to our attention. The Nye County Library District is proposing to ban firearms in a section of the library.
First, the proposed ban would apply to the children’s story room; not the entire library. According the original poster, he spoke with the library manager “Susan” who stated she was uncomfortable with guns in that part of the library. Around children that fear is understandable, though unwarranted.
Someone should really reach out to these people and take them shooting to better understand
guns and carrying them. It is unique to have a hoplophobe openly state it is a matter of comfort and not using the lie of “common sense gun safety.”
Perception and not safety is being argued here, at least per the original poster, and mere perception and preference of the library staff will not pass serious constitutional muster.
They can do this despite state preemption of firearm laws because in Flores v. LVCCLD the Supreme Court, using tortured logic, decided that the Legislature really didn’t mean to exclude all sub-municipal districts because the legislators didn’t specifically name anything other than counties, cities, and towns. Read more here.
Unless the library is posted per NRS 202.3673, concealed carry is permitted in the library. This regulation would only serve to penalize open carriers and those carrying concealed poorly. It would not of course stop a mass murderer (which admittedly isn’t the point).
The trustees have confused NRS 202.265 which applies only to schools and licensed child care facilities, though they may have been influenced by the library open carry revenge bills (which did not pass) that would have added libraries to the above section. Or they think we are as stupid as they are.
If this regulation does pass, Pahrump residents should use their political power to get the manager fired and for the board of supervisors to replace the trustees. I doubt Nye County deputies would arrest for a violation and the sheriff should refuse to enforce it. Nye County claims to be a Second Amendment sanctuary, but will the rubber meet the road?
The meeting is being held at 10 AM, Monday Oct. 14 at the Pahrump Community Library.
In the Facebook group, an open carrier mentioned he encountered an oft-heard rumor about carrying in a bank.
Walked into my usual Bank Branch today, open carry as usual. Assistant Manager informs me that banks are federally chartered entities to which the same firearm regulations apply as to police stations and court houses in which only law enforcement and security is allowed to carry firearms. Now I have been carrying open for more than twenty years, including banks and in two different states. Nevada and Arizona. I never had a problem.
Yes, banks are federally chartered and regulated, but in a financial sense. There are no gun prohibitions regarding your local bank or credit union. Let's recap:
In Nevada and most states, carrying a gun in bank is only the crime of trespassing if you are asked to leave and you don't. Only in Montana is concealed carry illegal in bank (open carry is not) in the Inter-mountain West.
One-in-twenty Nevadans has a concealed firearm permit, based on October 2019’s count by the Department of Public Safety of permits issued by county. A total of 130,426 permits are active across the state. Unsurprisingly, Clark and Washoe counties lead the total.
That means 4.3% of all Nevadans have a permit and among adults, it’s nearly 6% of all adults, certainly more than 6% for all eligible adults. “Eligible adults” are non-felons without a major criminal history and age 21 and up, excluding certain veterans 18 an up. This is based on an estimated 3,034,000 million people (in 2018) and 2,217,723 adults.
This is a ratio on par with Texas and we have more permissive carry laws in Nevada.
Do you have a concealed carry protection program? Even if you are not charged with a crime, a lawyer to help you during the aftermath of a self-defense shooting can be expensive. Join the US Concealed Carry Association today and get a protection plan.
The no shooting areas in Clark County have grown. On Wednesday, October 2, the county commissioners voted for an expansion in three areas (agenda link).
Commissioner Justin Jones who lives in the southwest was the sponsor and reported shooters firing too close to homes in that area for comfort. Lovell Canyon was shut down by the Forest Service several years ago after a brushfire blamed on shooters and years of trash shooting dangerously close to the road.
NO OTHER AREAS were made off limits. See the Shooting page for more info on existing prohibited areas in Clark County.
State preemption laws allow local authorities to regulate unsafe discharge of firearms.
All in all, this is a minor expansion and for mostly legitimate reasons. It is a reminder to all shooters to be safe, pack out their trash, and encourage good behavior from others.
New areas in light yellow
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West