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Old February 8, 1999, 10:52 AM   #1
Rich Lucibella
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I rcently read in a historical novel that the very discussion of parts used to convert semi-auto to full auto weapons can result in a Conspiracy charge. Can anyone confirm or refute this.

We already have enough of our population behind bars for "thought crimes". I don't wish to contribute to the trend.
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Old February 8, 1999, 01:25 PM   #2
Mort
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How can something be conspiracy if it can be done legally under limited circumstances?
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Old February 8, 1999, 05:34 PM   #3
Rob Pincus
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Rich,

It is my understanding that "Conspiracy" charges chan only be filed if there is criminal intent. I am familar with this as it relates to financial matters, not in the eyes of the ATF.
FWIW, while it is well within the realm of possibility that the Federal gov't would assert such a charge, I think it is highly unlikely that an internet disucssion on the mechanics of conversion could result in a conspiracy conviction.

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Old February 8, 1999, 06:16 PM   #4
Rich Lucibella
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Rob-
Thanks. I'm not real concerned about someone arresting TFL members for a discussion of this sort....at least not today.

However, I've noticed that when a Federal Agency gets innocent individuals in their sights for *whatever* reason, conspiracy charges are usually the only alternative once action is authorized. Sometimes this is just an excuse for property seizure; sometimes worse.

If my understanding is, in fact, law then I think people should be aware of it. There's enough instances of entrapment cases which have resulted in successful conviction cases for "thought crimes". It would be relatively easy to engage someone in such a discussion at a Gun Show or on the Net and then use this as grounds for a bust. A far out possiblity for 99.9% of us today; but tomorrow?
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Old February 8, 1999, 06:29 PM   #5
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If such an event happens, you can thank the govt. for alerting you to the overall state of affairs. While it is not a custom to declare war on an individual or a social group overtly, we can read between the lines.

Same way German Jews should have tried to acquire Mausers instead of waiting further back in '38, when the intentions of the Nazies became all too clear...

War is not fun, but an improvement over the alternatives. Moreover, it would be a war that cannot be won except through attrition, as the citizens would not be organized. Any organization would be awfully vulnerable to infiltration...so, work alone and <A href="http://www.ddb.com/RKBA/smg/s_takesome.JPG">take enough of the bastards with you</a> to make for a good escort.



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Old February 8, 1999, 07:18 PM   #6
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I imagine you are referring to the info in U.C., and I would suggest you call Kent Lamont -- as I believe he was the model for the class III dealer in the book.

Kent has relocated from Indiana to Idaho. Number is 208 756 6819. Another good source would be Dan Shea, who authored the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 207 683 2959, E mail, SAReview@aol.com. The info on Dan is from SAR.

Last, I would not give information/advise on modifications to make guns full auto, just because I do not have the kind of money that can be chewed up in a court case. The government does not have to win, all they need to do is bankrupt the individual. Ask Bill Fleming, they did both to him. GLV
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Old February 8, 1999, 08:16 PM   #7
Rich Lucibella
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George-
Thanks. You're correct. I am, in fact, referencing John Ross' Unintended Consequences. As I've not not finished the book, I can only assume what happens to Kent's character.

So, come on...don't be stingy with the info! Is this a possible scenario or not? I fully understand your concern about financial attrition when a govt agency seeks to destroy an individual. Common knowledge that yopu can't win the fight is the cornerstone of today's property confiscation laws.
Rich

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Old February 13, 1999, 09:12 PM   #8
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Rich, I do not have the answer. When I was a class III dealer, we did not sell the ' how to ' books, and we were not manufacturers.

Let me put it this way, I don't know of anyone who has been prosecuted, or even arrested for this type of conspiracy. That said, I still would not want to become an example. GLV
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Old February 14, 1999, 12:07 AM   #9
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Kent is the model for one of the characters, he and JR are very good buddies. There is quite a bit of JR himself in the book, too. As well as his uncle. Funny Story:

There is a scene in the book where a sporting shotgun competitor (based on JR's uncle.. true story) is attending a huge tournament with a Calcutta and cash prizes (as was common during the era). This relative unknown shooter buys himself in the calcuta and goes on to win the event.

JR, being a relative unknown in this crowd, bought himself last year at the IMCS#2 Celebrity Calcutta and proceeded to win the event. Art imitating Life which was then imitated by life again.. of course, almost everyone missed the irony. Not a lot of people had read UC... JR spent the rest of the weekend explaining it.

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Old February 14, 1999, 11:38 PM   #10
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Rich, The only way that I could foresee you getting slammed with a conspiracy charge would be as a secondary charge to someone else's charge of committing a firearms felony. That is if you either had a business, ie. Class 3 or had made or supplied the parts to make a conversion for someone else. You could not be charged unless you had an integral prt of the happeniings that make up the firearms felony (making an illegal part). If you have your own business I would not advise discussing with anyone about circumventing thelaw. But talking about it with a friend would otherwise would be okay. As long as you still aren't talking him through the process so that he could make his own illegal parts.
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Old February 15, 1999, 12:11 AM   #11
Rich Lucibella
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Riss-
Thanks for the clarification. I think you're saying that a mere discussion "could" result in a conspiracy charge, but absent facts (assumption?) that you're a "bad guy", the authorities would be "reasonable".

If that's so, I'm not feeling comforted.
Rich
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Old February 15, 1999, 11:25 AM   #12
Michael Carlin
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Rich Lucibella,

My experience with the IRS tells me that "reasonable" has a lot in common with"common sense" with many government agencies. I too am not comforted.

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Old February 16, 1999, 10:29 AM   #13
Riss
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Rich, to clarify my statement a little. The mere discussion of illegal activity does not make it a crime. Only when your discussion is an integral part of the 'act' does it become illegal, and turn into conspiracy.
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Old February 16, 1999, 10:33 AM   #14
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Rich, p.s. Not all law enforcement officers are "reasonable" in all of their actions. And if someone should ever get "caught up " in a conspiracy charge their best course of action should be to get a really good NRA attorney and pray for the best. As I have seen before it is always best to get your story out in the open and not to conceal anything. Unless you are trying to conceal something !!!
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Old February 18, 1999, 08:52 AM   #15
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I have had the impression for many years that to be successfully prosecuted for conspiracy requires planning (discussing) an illegal act plus at least one ACTION furthering that plan.

In the early '80's in Augusta, Georgia a group of people were arrested on a variety of charges including conspiracy in a "guns for drugs" scheme. The federal agencies dubbed it "Operation Flying Circus." One thing that stuck in my memory was that only one person was convicted of conspiracy. All of her co-conspirators were found innocent of conspiring with her. Go figure
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Old February 19, 1999, 12:16 AM   #16
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A GOOD NRA Attorney????? You must be joking, right? I spoke to a NRA lawyer about the Full Auto device to see if I could sell them as curios or maybe keychain fobs. He informed me that as it was just a part like a selector for a M-16. No problem. WRONG, I called BATF the next day and they informed me that it was classified as a auto sear and must be numbered and registered with them the same as a SMG. Glad I did'nt trust the famous board member/lawyer!!

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Old March 5, 1999, 08:41 AM   #17
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Correct, the only people that you should get info on restricted weapons or parts is the ATF. And if you are still unsure , ask for it in writing, or get a copy of the regulations yourself.
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Old March 5, 1999, 08:47 AM   #18
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Spartacus, even if your actions were only involved in the 'conspiracy' and the other person comitted the act, you can still be charged with conspiracy. If you had KNOWLEDGE that the other person was going to commit an illegal act, you will be charged with both the conspiracy and with the act.
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Old March 5, 1999, 11:28 AM   #19
Byron Quick
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Riss,

Sure, I understood that part and it is logical. What gets me is how someone can be found guilty of conspiracy and all their co-conspirators be found innocent. About like the cases where a person is found guilty of accepting a bribe and the other person is found innocent of giving it. It seems to me that at least two people would need to be found guilty for any one conspiracy conviction to stand and that for a bribery conviction to stand that the person accused of giving the bribe must be found guilty and vice versa. Anything else is unjust, unfair, and not evenhanded. Am I naive to expect this from American justice?
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Old March 5, 1999, 11:12 PM   #20
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Rich...
Conspiracy is added to some charges as a means of Federalizing and making some misdemenors a felony. And it can be used as a means of circumventing the double jeopardy rule. Conspiracy also gives the prosecution a wide latitude in investigation

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Old March 5, 1999, 11:21 PM   #21
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Old biker,

I suspect that the problem is that the Lawyer was unaware that there is a difference between the M16 selector switch and the Semi-auto version.

Furthermore, opinion of the individual ATF agent you spoke with aside, there are portions of the M-16 trigger group that are sold everday at Gunshows and in some gun shops (Springfield Armory's blister bakc tri-burst modification being especially common). ATF has decided that owning those parts AND a semi auto AR is commiting a felony, but they have never charged anyone for owning the parts only.

For anyone interested in an Opinion form the ATF, Riss is right on. You need to get it in writing. Preferably from the Research bepartment at the ATF headquarters, rather than a field office or an individual agent.
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Old March 7, 1999, 01:15 PM   #22
Rich Lucibella
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I have been apprised by a federal agent friend that consiracy charges require *ation* toward the spoken goal. Talking about something alone, does not warrant conviction.

However, as DC has pointed out, conspiracy charges tend to be rather nebulous and can be easily abused by prosecutors. The result is what I refer to as "thought crimes".
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Old March 17, 1999, 09:21 AM   #23
Brett Bellmore
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It's my understanding, from reading news reports anyway, that 1. The "action" can be taken by anyone in the "conspiracy", even the government's informant. 2. The "action" can be a legal act; Hypothetically, in this instance, purchasing a home shop setup. The question I'd have is this: If you don't violate STATE law, and you keep the gun in your own home, would you be safe? The Supreme court HAS taken the idea that "interstate comerce" has to be actual comerce actually crossing state boundries seriously of late, after all.
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Old March 17, 1999, 08:38 PM   #24
Daren Thompson
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Brett I think (and I may be wrong) the interstate commerce on full-auto weapons only applied in the original NFA 1934, the GCA of 68 made it so a civilian had to pay the $200 tax just to have the machine gun. Then with the passage of FOPA in 86 they banned the manufactue of machine guns for civilian use. Therfore if you made a machine gun at home U would be guilty of not paying a $200 tax in wich the government has told U they will not let U pay. For in FOPA there is somethiong that says U can posses the gun if the government says U can, but BATF says this applies only to government agencies and law enforcement.
Hope this helps
Later
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Old March 18, 1999, 07:04 AM   #25
Brett Bellmore
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Darren: Yes, I understood that bit about requiring people to pay a tax, and then refusing to accept it's payment. My point had to do with the enumerated powers of the federal government; If I build a machine gun in my basement, and don't sell it to anyone, I'm not engaging in "interstate commerce". As I read the Constitution, outside of the D of C, and a few military bases, the Federal government lacks constitutional jurisdiction to ban ANYTHING, let along guns. Of course, I do understand that by this reading of the Constitution, 90% of what the federal government does today is unconstitutional.
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