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Old October 16, 2020, 11:06 AM   #1
ghbucky
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80% or 'blank' AR receiver

I just discovered that the BATF has classifies unfinished receivers as not firearms.

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/qa/are-...eivers-illegal

Which raises questions with me. I thought that firearms manufacturing required a ATF license and that it is illegal to own a firearm that does not have a serial number.

But I see that 80% receivers are pretty big business. What is the deal here?
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Old October 16, 2020, 01:04 PM   #2
Bill DeShivs
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Anyone can legally make their own non-NFA firearms for their own use under federal law.
There is no federal law requiring those firearms to have a serial number. It is illegal to own a firearm that has had the serial number REMOVED.

You can sell home made firearms, but you can not manufacture them for resale.
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Old October 16, 2020, 01:16 PM   #3
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The unelected civil servants at the ATF have been making laws by regulation without any input from elected representatives for eons.
I believe 80% receivers become firearms when they're finished. Then the assorted laws apply. Unfinished they're just oddly shaped paperweights like DEWATs.
"...no federal law requiring those firearms to have a serial number..." That not in the GCA of 1968? Or was that just for .22's?
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Old October 16, 2020, 03:44 PM   #4
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The law allows you to make and legally own and use a gun. It's an exception partly to allow designers and inventors to come up with and try new ideas and to make prototypes, but I don't know the full story behind that cutout. A manufacturer makes multiple copies of a gun with the idea of selling them to make a living, in which case you have to issue serial numbers and maintain the proper government paperwork on the receivers you make for tracking and tracing purposes, and that requires a license.

For selling an owner-made gun, I don't know what the rules are. You can't do an FFL transfer or NICS check without a serial number, AFAICT, so a state that requires even private sales to go through a background check would have a problem. The NICS form is funny in that it makes both the manufacturer and model number optional information, but not the serial number; that appears to be required.
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Old October 16, 2020, 04:45 PM   #5
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Anyone can build their own firearm. Those that want to remain legal comply with Federal and State laws, while doing so.
"80%" receivers are just a shortcut to make it easier for the average idiot that doesn't have a milling machine.

I've done two "80%" ARs and have a third (~"10%") in the project backlog.
None are marked.
They're so called, "ghost guns" ... even though they live in the bottom of my safe, are easily identified, and haven't slimed, scared, or murdered anyone, ever.
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Old October 16, 2020, 07:00 PM   #6
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Interesting. Thanks for the info.
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Old October 16, 2020, 08:47 PM   #7
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Several years ago Shotgun News had a contributing editor (who has since retired) who wrote about D-I-Y type projects for the home gunsmith. He did an article on completing 80% AR-15 receivers, and he discussed the question of marking the completed firearm. The federal law that allows you to complete an 80% receiver does not require that you mark it. However, as has been noted, you can't sell it without at least a serial number. The author of the article showed how he used transfer punches (such as from Harbor Freight) to put his name, city, state, and a serial number on his 80% receivers.
https://www.harborfreight.com/18-in-..._psugg_q=stamp

This protects you -- it's highly probable that the random police officer who sees an AR-15 with no serial number (like maybe you're in an accident) will assume it's illegal, and then the games will begin. Except in a few states, there is no requirement that you register the serial number you assign with anyone or any agency.

A few states (the usual suspects) have enacted so-called "ghost gun" laws, that include various provisions for marking and registering such firearms. Before embarking on an 80% receiver project, you should first determine whether or not your state has enacted any legislation affecting them. These laws usually use the term "ghost gun."

The other point is that, without a serial number, such guns (or at least the receivers) might have to be destroyed upon your death, since they can't be sold through an FFL. I am not a lawyer, so I won't speculate as to whether or not you would need a serial number on a "ghost gun" to sell it in a free state, where people can just sell guns without a nanny state permission slip. Federal law would, of course, apply to any interstate transfer of a firearm, even a ghost gun.

The basic rule for 80% receivers is that you are making a firearm for your own, personal use. Many authors have stated outright that a firearm made ffrom an 80% receiver can never be sold. That appears to be incorrect. You can't make it with the intention of selling it but, if you make one and five years down the road you decide you'd rather have an AR-10 instead of an AR-15, you can legally sell it. It is a completed firearm at that point (whether or not you have applied a serial number), so all federal and state laws apply.

Lastly, please keep in mind that "loose lips sink ships." I like the idea that people can make their own guns. But I don't want to see 80% receivers follow the route of bump stocks, and now maybe "pistol braces." As I mentioned, and as FrankenMauser mentioned, these are referred to as "ghost guns" and several states have already passed laws either banning them entirely or heavily regulating them. The more you talk about them, the faster the regulations and bans will spread.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. To obtain a fully qualified legal opinion on this, consult an attorney in your state who specializes in firearms law.
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Old October 16, 2020, 08:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankenMauser
I've done two "80%" ARs and have a third (~"10%") in the project backlog.
None are marked.
They're so called, "ghost guns" ... even though they live in the bottom of my safe, are easily identified, and haven't slimed, scared, or murdered anyone, ever.
In other words, they're defective?
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Old October 17, 2020, 01:49 PM   #9
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
In other words, they're defective?


They work. I just don't like polymer.
I've gone back to forged aluminum lowers for all of my ARs.
That included ditching 5(?) commercially produced polymer lowers.
Since the eighty-percenters should be engraved with my name, location, and serial number to be sold - and I couldn't be bothered to do that - they went to the bottom of the safe with my other oddities (some rimfire receivers, ratty 1916 Spaniard receivers, Jap 99 receivers, and misc bayonets).
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Old October 17, 2020, 06:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
You can't do an FFL transfer or NICS check without a serial number,...
Actually, you can. The law allows for it. Pre-1968 guns THAT NEVER HAD A SERIAL NUMBER are "grandfathered".

Prior to 1968 guns were not required by law to have serial numbers. MOST did, but that was because the maker wanted to do it. Low budget shotguns and .22s sometimes did not. Those guns, and foreign guns that never had serial numbers are not required to have them today, and can be bought/sold, turned in for repair/pawn and reclaimed without a serial number.

Guns made after 68 are required to have a number. EVERY gun that had a number when made, before or after 68 must have the number. If it is removed or defaced, that's against the law.

As I understand it, if you manufacture the gun yourself, for your own use, you are not required to put a serial number on it, AS LONG AS IT REMAINS YOUR PROPERTY.

You can sell a gun you made when you're tired of it, but when you do, you must put a serial number on it (3 digit minimum I think though ti may be 4) to comply with current laws.

You aren't held to the all exact same rules as a commercial manufacturer, but there are rules you must meet if they gun is leaving your personal possession.

What you have to do is check with both the Fed (ATF) AND your state to see how much of what, applies.
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Old October 17, 2020, 08:54 PM   #11
Bill DeShivs
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Slight correction.
Starting in 1934, handguns were required to have a serial number. Long guns were not required to have a number until GCA '68.
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