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stonedog406
August 4, 2009, 12:51 AM
So after doing a fairly indepth search of the archives, I still have not found the info I am after. Here's the issue.

I recently met back up with a college friend with whom I used to hunt and shoot. I asked him about that Colt AR-15 he bought around 1985 ( I remember he paid about $400 for it!) and he still has it. He was in the process of moving out of a state where it probably wasn't legal, and I was wondering if the fact that it was a pre 1986 AR-15, if there were any class 3 type restrictions on this weapon? (I am pretty sure it could have easily been converted to full auto at the time. It has the lighter barrel so I am thinking it was a SP-1. It also has the bayonnet lug.)
Can he sell it outright like any other weapon?
Is it worth more than a colt made yesterday?
And what happens when a state or federal law changes the legal ownership of a particular firearm? That is to say, if I owned something legal today, and tomorrow, that class 3 type firearm is now illegal, was there a grandfather statute. Up till this point I haven't really educated myself on class 3 issues as I know I will not be willing to spend the money or (more importantly) allow the gov't full access to my business.

Appreciate the help.

stonedog406
August 4, 2009, 01:15 AM
during my continued search, it looks like there was a registration process 20+ yrs ago. If my friend did not register this rifle as a class 3 weapon back then, can he do it now? Or has the ship sailed?

Bartholomew Roberts
August 4, 2009, 06:25 AM
If my friend did not register this rifle as a class 3 weapon back then, can he do it now?

No, he cannot. The registry closed 23 years ago. If he wanted to legally convert the rifle now, he would need to buy a part that was registered prior to 1986 (registered M16 lower receiver, registered lightning link, etc.) and use his current rifle parts with the registered part to convert it.

Can he sell it outright like any other weapon?

Is it a Colt AR15 or has it been converted to full auto? If it is just a Colt AR15, then it is the same as any other rifle under federal law; but state laws may restrict it. If it was registered as full auto, then it can be sold; but the buyer needs the $200 tax stamp to take possession. If it is an unregistered full-auto then all it is good for is a ticket to federal prison and those are suprisingly difficult to sell.

Is it worth more than a colt made yesterday?

Only if it is a registered full-auto or has some special collector's value.

And what happens when a state or federal law changes the legal ownership of a particular firearm? That is to say, if I owned something legal today, and tomorrow, that class 3 type firearm is now illegal, was there a grandfather statute. Up till this point I haven't really educated myself on class 3 issues as I know I will not be willing to spend the money or (more importantly) allow the gov't full access to my business.

It would all depend on how the law was written, so it is impossible to say what would happen. The 1986 law was written so that it closed the registry so no new machineguns could be added. Since the 1934 law requires machineguns to be registered, this means no new machineguns unless you are an FFL paying the special occupational tax, military or law enforcement. The 1986 law has been challenged as unconstitutional multiple times in a variety of ways and has been upheld as constitutional so far.

Johnny Guest
August 4, 2009, 09:43 AM
Bartholomew Roberts wrote a good answer to your questions, stonedog406. To expand just a little - - -

Yes, an SP1 model AR15 was perhaps a little easier to convet to selective fire than the current models, but it was never a casual operation. I've been assured that it required some knowledge and a lot of effort. The old business about, "you can just file down the sear and make it a mo-sheen gun" is just anti-gun urban myth.

Sure, there have been some --a relative handful, maybe -- of AR15s illegally converted. Probably an equal number have been ruined by clumsy efforts to do so.

You asked, "Is it worth more than a colt made yesterday?"
Bartholomew Roberts replied, "Only if it is a registered full-auto or has some special collector's value." This usually means that it has been preserved in pristine condition, usually with original packing and documents. The majority of ARs purchased in those days were for either competition, hunting, general plinking, or law enforcement. In other words, to be USED. An SP1 can be in utterly perfect working condition but still have a noticibly worn finish. The anodizing over aluminum alloy parts clearly shows the smallest dings, scratches and worn spots. Such a piece is quite servicable, and will bring more money now than when sold new, but all collector's value has fled.

If the firing mechanism of your pal's rifle has not been modified so that it can fire more than one shot with a single operation of the trigger, then it can be sold, traded, or otherwise transferred just like a current production AR15. This assumes that there is no local or state restrictions on this type rifle, such as there is in California.

Best of luck to you.

stonedog406
August 4, 2009, 12:33 PM
for the clarification. I just wanted to be sure I was giving him the best advice and keeping within the law at the same time.. It looks like the high value potential is not with the rifle, but with the parts required to convert it to FA. Consequently, it is perfectly legal to own and use as is and probably has a moderate value close to that of one bought today new.

thanks again