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Old April 21, 2013, 08:33 PM   #1
Derius_T
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Legality question about FA Rifle

I want to propose a theoretical situation, but please bear with me.

Let's suppose a friend of mine was remodeling a house his family just purchased. The house was over 100 years old, and he was ripping out everything down to the studs, basically redoing the entire house. Suppose upon tearing down the walls, he found a door behind a solid wall. Suppose through said door was a 8x6 room, filled with metal racks. On each rack sat a variety of long guns, carefully packed in grease and sealed for long storage.

Let's suppose that among the rifles were several ak47 variety rifles, among others, in pristine (perfect unfired) condition, all with overseas stamps and markings, all fully automatic. Let's assume these guns had been sealed behind that wall decades prior to 1986, and did not exist as far as any registries or agencies were concerned.

If this were a real scenario, and a friend found himself in possession of let's say above a dozen such rifles of extreme value, what could he, or should he do in order to remain in full compliance with the law?
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Old April 21, 2013, 09:46 PM   #2
Willie Sutton
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Call his local PD and ask them to come and haul them off to be smelted down.

Actually, they could legally be retained by a Government Agency, and then possibly be loaned to museums, etc., but they can never be placed on the NFA registry, not even as a post-86 sample.


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Old April 21, 2013, 09:58 PM   #3
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If they were not registered prior to 1986, then they can not now be registered to a private individual. The only thing your friend can do, to remain legal is to call the BATFE and have someone come out and pick them up. They can't be sold, they can't be registered, and you can't donate them to a museum or Goodwill,to do otherwise is to take a chance of a vacation at Club Fed and having a 7 foot roommate with the nickname of " Sweet Thing ". That is to my understanding, if I'm wrong, please someone correct me. I see that while I was typing, Willie was answering Hey Willie, is it true that when a reported asked you in a interview why you robbed banks, you gave him a look that implied he was an idiot and said " because that is where they keep the money " I wonder how many people will have to goggle 'Willie Sutton' now to find out what I'm talking about
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Old April 22, 2013, 12:17 AM   #4
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Re: Legality question about FA Rifle

I've actually dealt with this a few times. The guns have to be surrendered to law enforcement. There's no other option.

As we speak, our hypothetical subject can be prosecuted for multiple felonies. If he gets pulled over on his way to the police station to turn them in, he can get busted. His best option is to contact an attorney and let them oversee the process of surrender. Have him make sure he's got detailed lists of serial numbers and markings.
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Old April 22, 2013, 07:39 PM   #5
Derius_T
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Wow. Good thing this is a hypothetical situation, otherwise that friend might be seriously upset at the amount of money he would have to pour down the drain. Not to mention the loss and destruction of some pristine examples of a variety of pre 1970's era firearms.

We really do have some laws that boggle the mind.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old April 22, 2013, 07:52 PM   #6
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RJay, are you referring to "Willie the Actor"?
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Old April 22, 2013, 09:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Good thing this is a hypothetical situation, otherwise that friend might be seriously upset at the amount of money he would have to pour down the drain.
Yep. The fact that he has to surrender property to the government without compensation for something he didn't do wrong raises some serious 5th Amendment flags.
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Old April 22, 2013, 09:28 PM   #8
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Craigslist????


All kidding aside about all your hypathetical friend can do is take some pics and post them on FB after BATFE's takes them away.
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Old April 22, 2013, 10:27 PM   #9
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He was called " Willie the Actor " along with several other nick names, better known as Willie the bank robber and escape artist. I've read a couple of things on him, he literally walked out of a couple of prisons. once he bleached a prison uniformed white ( using lemon juice ), pressed it by laying it under his mattress { old trick } and when a medical team come on a routine visit, he grabbed a clip board and walked out the gate with them. Nobody even knew he was missing for several hours. He claimed he never carried a loaded gun during his robberies because he didn't want any one to get hurt.
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Old April 22, 2013, 10:35 PM   #10
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Let's remember that the situation at hand involves being in possession of unregistered NFA items. Taking pictures for posterity could constitute generating evidence for an aggressive prosecutor.
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Old April 23, 2013, 01:25 AM   #11
Derius_T
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Thank you Tom, I had not even thought of that! On a side note, (since I started the thread) do you think there is any chance the registry would ever be opened again? Because, hypothetically he could just seal that wall right back up like it was never found and bide his time...
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Old April 23, 2013, 03:16 PM   #12
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I know some gun folks are shocked at the idea, but those guns are contraband, just like a big stash of heroin or a tactical nuke. There is no legal way they can be retained. Not welded up, not parts removed, not barrels plugged. They can't even be destroyed, since that would be another crime, destruction of evidence in a felony.

Yes, sometimes it is possible to donate such guns to a government-owned museum, but that has to be done by the BATFE/police after the guns are surrendered. When a person becomes aware of a felony, he does not have the option to deal with the situation at his convenience or to go shopping for a museum. So, even stripping the receivers, another often recommended action, is not legal (again, destruction of evidence), plus delay in reporting a felony.

So our hypothetical guns, found by the hypothetical home-owner, would be very illegal and any action other than abandonment would be illegal as well.

Jim
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Old April 23, 2013, 06:16 PM   #13
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AAhhh WHAT IF

This thread made me weep...I had to passed on 2 Vietnam (brought 'em home AK's like new,only dropped once by a dead VC.... full auto.) just recently. Just retired PO, nice shiny retirement star and crisp pension..but oooooooooooooooooooooooooo the thought of 'em made me cry..until I thought of visiting all the neat guys I put away and being cellies..etc etc Have a good day dreaming of the " What If'S "
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Old April 24, 2013, 03:45 AM   #14
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I agree with Tom in this case.

A lawyer should be retained to help with the surrender in the case of a dozen possible contraband NFA guns.

Have your buddy look at the expense of the attorney as inflated closing costs, or just chalk it up to bad luck.

The attorney may also prove to be of use in laying claim to the non-NFA items and firearms down the road as well. Your friend would not get far in this aspect on his own at all.

Handling anything unnecessarily in the room on his own, or spending too much time putting footprints on the dusty floor, from a room with a dozen questionable AKs might raise a problem with the agents as to whether anything had been removed prior to their arrival.
Have him get the lawyer.

Not real clear as to what 1986 has to do with any of this. Any original foreign made NFA receiver that was not registered before or during the 1968 amnesty would be considered contraband unless it was registered as a dealer's sample.

JT
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Old April 24, 2013, 08:25 AM   #15
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From personal experience, in a very parallel universe: A jet fighter that we imported (MiG-17) came with three auto-cannons installed that were "demilled" in Poland by poking a hole thru the (removable) barrels near the muzzles with a torch, and nothing else. When the container was opened we were... "bemused" as we were standing drinking coffee with a BATFE inspector who was there to issue the import release when this was found. The BATFE simply asked us to demil the receivers according to BATFE requirements (cut into three pieces), we dropped the cannon pallet down, used a torch "on the spot" and that was that, and we were allowed to retain the residual parts, which then made very nice display cannon in the nose of the jet for airshows, etc. There was no intent to import the cannon without the correct paperwork, the BATFE understood that, the supplier of the jet had been instructed to demil the cannon, failed to do so according to BATFE specifications, and we simply corrected the issue on the spot and everyone was happy.

In my experience the BATFE really has other more pressing things to worry about than prosecuting someone who has no intent to be a bad guy. In our case we all (BATFE guy included) thought they were pretty darned cool, played with them for a while, took plenty of photos of them, took pencil rubbings of the markings on them, and then we all cried as we cut them up. When YOU call THEM to come in and "help you with your situation" they generally are pretty good natured about it. If they come to you and knock on the door, things don't usually go as well.


So:

In a case like this, it may be possible to consult BATFE and then to demil and retain the parts. Probably not, the difference between our case and this one is that in our case there was no intent to illegally import and then to conceal the contraband ab-initio, and in this case there has been both elements. Legal advice is something that should be sought if you want to stay 100% on the up and up.

Now "then was then and this is now" but I'll share another life experience. In my college days I worked for one of the largest sellers of surplus firearms and parts in the world. A woman came in with the basic "my husband died and left this behind, is it worth anything?" story, and dropped a MG-34 wrapped in a blanket onto the counter. The owner didn't even bat an eye, called me up from the back room (where I was putting together Pattern 14 Enfields from parts), and said "take this into the back and put it on the chopsaw". I took it into the back, did a quick strip, chopped the receiver into three pieces, and put the parts into our MG-34 inventory and that was that. I think he paid the old lady $200 for the "parts", which became a nice parts set. The funny thing was that a customer who was a 07 FFL with 2 SOT came in a month or so later, bought the entire thing, and smiled... as he went back to his shop in Pennsylvania to build a dealer sample MG-34 reweld, and it's probably in a dealers collection now safe and sound. Was this legal? I've no clue... I was being paid $2.75/hour to do as I was told. So...I "can" see a midnight bandsaw party as an alternative, but..... well.... you pays your dollar and you takes yer chances, says the barker at the carnival. The best way to gamble is to keep your cash in your pockets and to stay away from the table.



Willie

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Last edited by Willie Sutton; April 24, 2013 at 10:09 PM.
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Old April 24, 2013, 08:03 PM   #16
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If he turns in the supposed items do you think the ATF is just gonna say thanks? I bet whomever owned the house before your friend gets a visit from them. Somebody sealed them in the wall.
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Old April 24, 2013, 08:16 PM   #17
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Anyone who is importing MiG 17's is at a whole different level from the guy who has found an NFA firearm in the attic.* Not really comparable. There is no guarantee what will happen when John Doe tells them he has a dozen machineguns in the attic. I have known of similar cases where no attorney was needed and everyone parted friends, but again no one can be sure. The BATFE agent who has just been told he better step up arrests or be fired does not have the same attitude as the one who has just left his retirement dinner.

*Did that possibly take place in bond, so there was no actual import or attempt to import?

Jim
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Old April 24, 2013, 08:37 PM   #18
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Call attorney.
Call ATF ASAP.
Stand by while guns are removed--maybe ask if you can take general pictures?


Sit on curb and weep profusely.

Unfortunately, that's about all you can do.
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Old April 24, 2013, 09:46 PM   #19
Willie Sutton
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"Did that possibly take place in bond, so there was no actual import or attempt to import?"


No, it was sitting in the hangar, customs having passed it thru without opening the container. We were having the BATFE inspection done for getting the Form 6A "Release and Receipt of Imported Firearms, Ammunition and Implements of War" issued, which the FAA requires for flight-certification of the aircraft. "Significant Military Equipment" is the import category.


Willie


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Old April 24, 2013, 11:20 PM   #20
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Sorry, only Willie Sutton I know of is a spindar in the Sten books.
Trying to keep illegal NFA firearms means you get to meet guys like me professionally. Bad idea, and I can tell you from continuous first hand experience - prison food is terrible. I'd follow the advice you've been given herein.
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