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Old April 11, 2021, 07:29 PM   #26
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so the law doesn't apply to him.
Unless he derives "meaningful" income or benefit, which would make him a manufacturer and subject to all the requirements a manufacturer has.
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Old April 11, 2021, 08:12 PM   #27
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  • Ghost guns are most certainly firearms. (Using the definition that a "ghost gun" is a gun made by a non-licensee.)
  • At this time, there is nothing in federal law about "ghost guns". Searching for federal legislation on "ghost guns" is not going to turn anything up. What people are calling "ghost guns" are nothing more than firearms made by non-licensees.
  • Guns made by non-licensees do not need serial numbers.
  • Guns made by non-licensees and then later sold do not need serial numbers. BATF recommends that they be serial numbered but there is no legal requirement to do so. (Note, a non-licensee who is making guns for anything other than personal use is breaking federal laws. It is legal to later decide you don't want a gun you originally made for personal use and sell it then, but if it was originally made for sale, a crime was committed.)
  • Kits are not firearms. They are not guns. They are not "ghost guns". They are a collection of parts, a partially manufactured receiver that does not yet meet the definition of firearm per the BATF and perhaps some tools/materials/instructions to assist in completing the receiver and assembling the firearm.
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John Doe making a Polymer 80 in his basement on Friday night isn't a licensed manufacturer, so the law doesn't apply to him.
If he is making the gun for anything other than personal use then he is an unlicensed manufacturer and is violating federal law. If he is making it for himself then you are correct.
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Unless he derives "meaningful" income or benefit, which would make him a manufacturer and subject to all the requirements a manufacturer has.
It does not matter if the person is making meaningful income from the sale or not, the key is the original intent. If a person is making a gun for anything other than personal use and does not have the proper federal licensing, they are in violation of federal law.
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Old April 11, 2021, 10:19 PM   #28
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Ghost guns are most certainly firearms. (Using the definition that a "ghost gun" is a gun made by a non-licensee.)
Ah, rats.

Yes, you are correct. Once it has been completed, a "ghost gun" is a firearm. But this law isn't aimed at the completed firearms, the law is aimed at the uncompleted ("80%") receivers -- which are NOT firearms under current law, and won't be firearms under the proposed law.
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Old April 11, 2021, 11:47 PM   #29
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If you make a firearm (not an NFA firearm) and decide to sell it, the ATF SUGGESTS you put a serial number on it. There is no requirement to register the gun with the federal government. 44AMP is wrong about this.
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Old April 11, 2021, 11:54 PM   #30
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But this law isn't aimed at the completed firearms, the law is aimed at the uncompleted ("80%") receivers -- which are NOT firearms under current law, and won't be firearms under the proposed law.
I haven't seen the proposed law. I thought this was about an executive action by Biden.

He can't make new law, but he might be able to tell BATF to re-evaluate how they classify 80% receivers and/or kits. As far as I know, that's not codified anywhere, it's just BATF opinion. So they could come back and say that really receivers need to be only 50% complete to not be firearms, or that including certain materials/tools/aids in a kit cross over the line into providing a firearm. Something along those lines.

As far as new laws--actual legislation, I think it might be hard to come up with federal law to regulate the manufacture of firearms for personal use that would pass constitutional muster. But then, we never really know how that will come out until after SCOTUS rules...
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Old April 12, 2021, 12:30 AM   #31
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He can't make new law, but he might be able to tell BATF to re-evaluate how they classify 80% receivers and/or kits. As far as I know, that's not codified anywhere, it's just BATF opinion. So they could come back and say that really receivers need to be only 50% complete to not be firearms, or that including certain materials/tools/aids in a kit cross over the line into providing a firearm. Something along those lines.
Yep. I thought I had raised that point previously, but I guess it was either in a different thread or on another site. Agreed, the 80% is a BATFE interpretation, and it can be changed at any time (I guess). And that raises the slippery slope question: if the BATFE drops it from 80% to 60% and that doesn't solve the problem, then what? Do we go to 40%, and then 20%, and then ... 0%? Does a raw ingot of steel or aluminum alloy get classified as a "ghost gun" because someone could potentially turn it into a firearm?

I think the BATFE is already going after complete 80% kits (those with parts in addition to the uncompleted receiver) as subject to regulation under the constructive possession theory.
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Old April 12, 2021, 12:38 AM   #32
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The irony behind ghost guns is I don't think there would even be a market for them if there wasn't a prohibition based model for gun control.
And whats interesting about them is even if they completely outlaw making guns that will only increase the technology which will only make it easier for the bad guys to make them from.

As ghost guns start turning up in crime scenes the argument is "well anyone can make them" but when they are prohibited from being made that argument wont change.

Not that gun rights hasn't been telling them this for years about outlawing guns... but with the future of firearm technology in 3D printing that anyone can do maybe ghost guns will be the king pin in the gun control debate? They cant be traced, so there wont be a point in the background check system anymore. Data wants to be free, and its already out there. Is there a way the law can prohibit the data from being delivered?
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Old April 12, 2021, 01:47 AM   #33
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It does not matter if the person is making meaningful income from the sale or not, the key is the original intent. If a person is making a gun for anything other than personal use and does not have the proper federal licensing, they are in violation of federal law.
This very subject came up during my recent interview for a manufacturer's license and I requested that it be run up the flagpole to the agency's lawyers at the field office. What I was told was the relevant question is whether or not you are actually a firearm manufacturer or not, and the test for that is if you make substantive income or benefit from the manufacture of the firearm. If you build a firearm with the "intent" of using it for personal use but later decide you want to give it away or sell it for whatever reason, at some point you either become a manufacturer or someone who is potentially exploiting "personal use" to be an unlicensed manufacturer if you do it often enough.
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Old April 12, 2021, 01:57 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by stagpanther
If you build a firearm with the "intent" of using it for personal use but later decide you want to give it away or sell it for whatever reason, at some point you either become a manufacturer or someone who is potentially exploiting "personal use" to be an unlicensed manufacturer if you do it often enough.
This is true, but how often "often enough" is has never been firmly established. Many years ago I heard that the BATFE office around these parts has a guideline, but I'm reluctant to dredge it up because the memory is fuzzy. It involved "three," but I don't remember if it was three guns in the span of one year, or one gun in the span of three years. Either way, it's an arbitrary criterion that's nothing more than a guideline, so it could change on a whim.
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Old April 12, 2021, 02:13 AM   #35
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This is true, but how often "often enough" is has never been firmly established. Many years ago I heard that the BATFE office around these parts has a guideline, but I'm reluctant to dredge it up because the memory is fuzzy. It involved "three," but I don't remember if it was three guns in the span of one year, or one gun in the span of three years. Either way, it's an arbitrary criterion that's nothing more than a guideline, so it could change on a whim.
Not as arbitrary as you might think. Real world example: Local Bubba decides he enjoys building rifles and AR's and then finding the best loads to make them as accurate as possible--ahem, cough cough. Word will get out pretty quick in your local community of firearms owners and hunters if you're reasonably good at it, and you also start selling or trading your pet projects at a later date when you're ready to move on to your next "love interest." Eventually that word will reach the ears of licensed folks and local gun stores and they are likely not going to be happy if they view you as unfair competition to what they spend money to be able to do. Good luck with the personal intent thing once you actually get on the radar.
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Old April 12, 2021, 02:45 AM   #36
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This very subject came up during my recent interview for a manufacturer's license and I requested that it be run up the flagpole to the agency's lawyers at the field office. What I was told was the relevant question is whether or not you are actually a firearm manufacturer or not, and the test for that is if you make substantive income or benefit from the manufacture of the firearm. If you build a firearm with the "intent" of using it for personal use but later decide you want to give it away or sell it for whatever reason, at some point you either become a manufacturer or someone who is potentially exploiting "personal use" to be an unlicensed manufacturer if you do it often enough.
I think what we're seeing is the difference between how something would be proved in court and what is actually legal.

The law says nothing about how much money is made if a non-licensee decides to sell firearms they made for personal use.

But proving intent can be difficult, while the government has a lot of experience tracking money.

I think it's pretty simple to take a couple extreme cases and see that intent really is the dividing line, not the amount of income derived.

Case 1. Let's say George Hoenig makes a rifle for himself and then decides to sell it. He might net 6 figures from the sale given the uniqueness and amazing qualities of the rifle. Certainly significant income by anyone's standards but no one would argue that what he did was not fully in the spirit of the law.

Case 2. Let's say that Jim Bob figures out how to build AR-15s from 80% kits, thinks it's the most fun he's ever had and goes to work turning out as many as he can. He's not a shooter so he doesn't bother to test fire them. He's doing it for fun, so he's not even trying to recover the cost of the kits. He just sells each finished gun for $50 and two six packs of his favorite beer. Clearly no significant income--in fact he's losing a ton of money--but there's not going to be a problem with anyone understanding that he's not making the guns for his own use and is, in fact, acting as an unlicensed manufacturer.
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Old April 12, 2021, 07:23 AM   #37
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OK, I fold.
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Old April 12, 2021, 07:55 PM   #38
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I find it somewhat ironic that the sale of complete parts kits without a (partial finished) receiver and the partial finished receivers without any other parts included has been going on for decades with no one at all concerned.

#1) because it was and still is completely legal
and #2(probably) because all the parts needed were not sold in one package.

There was a recent ATF raid on a company, I have not heard where it is currently in the legal system, but apparently the cause was that the company was selling uncompleted AR lowers AND all the other parts needed in one "kit" package, which apparently the ATF decided was violating the law.

We'll see how this works out, eventually...

Constructive possession is as slippery a slope as Conspiracy, possibly more so...
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Old April 13, 2021, 12:20 AM   #39
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I find it somewhat ironic that the sale of complete parts kits without a (partial finished) receiver and the partial finished receivers without any other parts included has been going on for decades with no one at all concerned.
not really though, the technology has improved. Nobody cared about the guy who could afford a milling machine in his garage plus hundreds of dollars of fitting tools to build a 1911.
Now all you need is a hand drill and its done in one evening. Huge difference.
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Old April 13, 2021, 12:50 PM   #40
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Now all you need is a hand drill and its done in one evening. Huge difference.
Huge difference in the amount of effort needed by the person doing it.

NO DIFFERENCE IF existing law is followed.

and if you don't follow existing law, that makes you a criminal, and no additional laws make you "more criminal-er".

Again, I submit that, if they can trace illegal drugs without serial numbers, they can trace illegal guns without serial numbers. There is no difference, other than its much tougher to flush a gun down the toilet.

No, its not simple or easy or necessarily fast, but they have done it, which means they CAN do it, given sufficient resources, and, most importantly, the will to do it.
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Old April 13, 2021, 02:35 PM   #41
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Let's face it -- they were able to track ONE cow with mad cow disease from somewhere in Canada to a specific barn somewhere in the United States. We often use this as a counterpoint to the argument that they (i.e. the government) can't find all the illegal aliens in the country, but it can as easily be applied to the issue of tracing guns. As 44 AMP has said, it's much easier to follow a pre-constructed paper trail. Doing it the other way requires w-o-r-k. They say they "can't" do it because they just don't want to do the necessary work. It's much easier (for the government) to just overburden the entire innocent population with an ever-expanding pile of regulations.
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Old April 13, 2021, 03:03 PM   #42
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Im just not seeing it, how can they trace a ghost gun? Lets say a ghost gun turns up at a crime scene, how can they trace it back to the owner or builder?
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Old April 13, 2021, 03:44 PM   #43
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Lets say a ghost gun turns up at a crime scene, how can they trace it back to the owner or builder?
The same way they trace anything that doesn't have a serial number. They TALK to people. Lots of people, and they will find someone who knows something, which leads them to someone else, one bit at time until they have enough information to figure out the big picture.

They know where they found the gun. Who they took it from, who that person's family is, who their "known associates" are. They work their street sources. Somebody knows where he got the gun, or where you can get one like it, and they follow up leads until they have a suspect(s), and then investigate them.

just like they do on TV except they can't do it in 45 minutes of an hour tv show...

Not an easy job, but one they can do, if they choose to...

Though it is a lot easier to just cry "we can't do it unless you pass more laws" , its not honest to say that.
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Old April 13, 2021, 03:48 PM   #44
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The same way they trace anything that doesn't have a serial number. They TALK to people. Lots of people, and they will find someone who knows something, which leads them to someone else, one bit at time until they have enough information to figure out the big picture.

They know where they found the gun. Who they took it from, who that person's family is, who their "known associates" are. They work their street sources. Somebody knows where he got the gun, or where you can get one like it, and they follow up leads until they have a suspect(s), and then investigate them.

just like they do on TV except they can't do it in 45 minutes of an hour tv show...

Not an easy job, but one they can do, if they choose to...

Though it is a lot easier to just cry "we can't do it unless you pass more laws" , its not honest to say that.
Where who got the gun?

Following leads and contacts is not tracing the gun. Sans any other evidence, a serialized gun they can trace back at least to someone, thats tracing the gun.
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Old April 13, 2021, 04:11 PM   #45
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The ghost gun thing just sounds like the government going after guns they can't trace via a serial number.
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Old April 13, 2021, 04:14 PM   #46
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Following leads and contacts is not tracing the gun. Sans any other evidence, a serialized gun they can trace back at least to someone, thats tracing the gun.
So they pick up a S&W 5906 at the scene of a drive-by shooting. It has a serial number. They call S&W. The serial number was sold to Davidsons. They call Davidson's. That serial number was sold to Ken's Sporting Goods on March 17, 1993. A BATFE agent shows up at Ken's Sporting Goods and asks to see the 4473s from 1993. They find the gun in the file -- it was sold on June 23, 1994 to Fred Smith.

Fred Smith died in 2007. His son lives at that address. His son doesn't know anything about the gun -- he says his father's house was burgled in 2003 and a number of guns were taken. There was a police report filed but his father didn't remember the serial number so there's no stolen gun report anywhere with that specific serial number assigned to it.

It's now 2021. The gun has been missing and unaccounted for since 2003 -- 18 years. The paper trail is useless, so now the only way to trace the gun is to try for fingerprints and/or DNA, or to talk to witnesses, get suspects and talk to people who know the suspects, and see if anyone remembers seeing Big Daddy Kool showing off a S&W 5906.
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Old April 13, 2021, 04:38 PM   #47
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So they pick up a S&W 5906 at the scene of a drive-by shooting. It has a serial number. They call S&W. The serial number was sold to Davidsons. They call Davidson's. That serial number was sold to Ken's Sporting Goods on March 17, 1993. A BATFE agent shows up at Ken's Sporting Goods and asks to see the 4473s from 1993. They find the gun in the file -- it was sold on June 23, 1994 to Fred Smith.

Fred Smith died in 2007. His son lives at that address. His son doesn't know anything about the gun -- he says his father's house was burgled in 2003 and a number of guns were taken. There was a police report filed but his father didn't remember the serial number so there's no stolen gun report anywhere with that specific serial number assigned to it.

It's now 2021. The gun has been missing and unaccounted for since 2003 -- 18 years. The paper trail is useless, so now the only way to trace the gun is to try for fingerprints and/or DNA, or to talk to witnesses, get suspects and talk to people who know the suspects, and see if anyone remembers seeing Big Daddy Kool showing off a S&W 5906.
Thats my point, serialized guns are traceable (useful or not) but ghost guns are not at all traceable. Suspects, fingerprints or DNA... are not tracing the gun those are totally different leads.
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Old April 13, 2021, 04:50 PM   #48
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Thats my point, serialized guns are traceable (useful or not) but ghost guns are not at all traceable.
If the trail ends 18 years ago, I would not consider that to be tracing the gun. At the conclusion of the "trace," they don't have any idea where the gun went, who used it in the shooting, or how/where/when the shooter obtained it. How is that a trace?

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Suspects, fingerprints or DNA... are not tracing the gun those are totally different leads.
If that line of inquiry ends up connecting a suspect with the gun used in the shooting, as far as I'm concerned they traced it.

We're arguing semantics.
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Old April 13, 2021, 05:06 PM   #49
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I don't know if I agree its just a semantic thing. If a suspect leaves fingerprints at the scene and they ID the person from the prints that has nothing to do with the murder weapon found, even if the prints were also on the gun... they didn't need to trace the gun to the murderer to solve that one.



A serial number trace that doesn't pan out is still a trace. The whole original point of registration is so they can trace the gun to the criminal. The whole point of a ghost gun is so it cant be traced to an owner for confiscation from prohibition laws, there's a difference here by design intent.
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Old April 13, 2021, 10:02 PM   #50
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The whole original point of registration is so they can trace the gun to the criminal.
No, the point is so they can trace the gun to its last registered owner. To see if that person is someone who is part of their investigation, or should be...

Now if that trail stops a couple decades ago, because the last registered purchaser died, or the gun was stolen, or the owner sold it or gave it away without filing any Fed or state paperwork, which was the case in most of the country for the past 200 years+, then the trace (paper trail)is of little use connecting the gun they have today with a suspect they have, today.

just FYI, but are you aware that, by law, criminals are NOT required to register guns they possess? It violates their rights.
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