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Ghost Guns! Under My Bed!

It’s kind of depressing the media has largely chosen to ignore our issue, and isn’t as much in the business anymore of running hysterical articles like this. Articles like this are why I got into blogging.

The guns are built from kits and arrive in pieces, so under existing law, when they’re shipped, they aren’t guns. When assembled by their buyers, they’re lethal – and legal.

Federal officials like Graham Barlowe, the resident agent in charge of the ATF’s Sacramento office, say the loophole is dangerous.

You can find a meme on the internet called “Everyone I Don’t Like is Hitler.” One could easily create a similar meme for the gun issue that goes, “Everything I Don’t Like is a Loophole.”

All the parts needed to assemble a gun were in the box when it arrived. It took Vasquez a couple of hours to assemble the weapon.

Did this include machining? Because if you failed to mention that he had to spend several hours machining the receiver, this is #FakeNews. From the article, you’d think he ordered a parts kit from the Internet, put it all together, and voilà, we have an functioning firearm. That would describe a felony if it were true.

Here’s some fast facts any journalist should know, that I think we can all agree on:

  • Generally speaking, it’s legal and should be legal for gun owners to buy parts for firearms. Parts are unregulated.
  • There is always one part of the gun that ATF considers The Gun, and that part is regulated as if it were a fully assembled firearm. Usually that part is the receiver (which if you’re a journalist reading this, is the part the rest of the parts of the gun attaches to).
  • Chunks of metal are not regulated. Regulating chunks of metal because they could be turned into guns with the right machining would be stupid beyond belief.
  • At some point, regulators decide that a part qualifies as a firearm if a certain amount of machining has been done to it. Usually a machined part that is about 80% complete, as arbitrarily determined by the regulator (ATF in this case), is considered a hunk of metal and is not considered a firearm. Where does life begin for a firearm?
  • It is currently a felony to earn livelihood or profit from manufacturing firearms if you don’t have a license to manufacture firearms. The current interpretation of this that you can’t sell firearms you make for yourself.
  • You could outlaw machining and assembling chunks of metal into functioning firearms, but that’s only going to deter people who are not doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, and if they aren’t doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, why the hell do you care?

What I’m getting at is, fine journalists, is where is the loophole? What law are you going to pass that won’t just be making something more illegal for criminals?

16 Responses to “Ghost Guns! Under My Bed!”

  1. mike says:

    “Usually a machined part that is about 80% complete, as arbitrarily determined by the regulator (ATF in this case), is considered a hunk of metal and is not considered a firearm.”

    “The current interpretation of this that you can’t sell firearms you make for yourself.”

    If you’re providing guidance for journalists, the above two quotes are not correct. 80% is marketing. I remember someone selling those same “80%” receivers on gunbroker as “95%” receivers. ATF doesn’t determine what percentage of a firearm a hunk of metal is, just whether it’s a firearm or not. And you can sell guns you make, but you can’t make them with that intention.

    • Sebastian says:

      I included the non-legal term that someone uninitiated might hear with the fact that it’s an arbitrary determination by the regulator. Maybe I should have been more clear about that.

  2. AnOregonian says:

    “Chunks of metal are not regulated. Regulating chunks of metal because they could be turned into guns with the right machining would be stupid beyond belief.”

    I think you are grossly under estimating the amount of stupid we are dealing with! ;-)

  3. Zermoid says:

    I never understood why the reciever was considered “the gun” legally. I always thought the barrel made much more sense.
    Someone gets shot and what do they do first? Check the recovered bullet for rifling to match it the a suspected murder weapon. Most guns are not that hard to swap barrels on, change barrels and destroy the original one and good luck proving you did it!
    Seems like you would want to restrict the one part that leaves identifiable imprints on every bullet fired!

    • Sebastian says:

      In some ways, I think that would make more sense. But barrels can get shot out, and there are a lot of legitimate reasons owners might want to replace them. That said, if the barrel were The Gun, you don’t need anything quality to be able to make something that will shoot a handful of times. That’s in the realm of “Will still only inconvenience the law-abiding, while not really impacting criminals much.”

      • Scott Connors says:

        Having owned registered machine guns, wouldn’t this mean a $200 tax stamp on each spare barrel? One of mine was a MG42; this could really add up fast, especially since you _know_ that they’re not going to allow the receiver to become an unregulated item! :P

        • Sebastian says:

          Presumably it would affect existing firearms. I’m not endorsing the idea, or advocating for it. But the barrel is the part that’s hardest to make.

          That is if you want something quality. A pipe will do if you don’t give a crap.

    • You’ve been watching too much television. “Ballistic fingerprints” aren’t. Crimes are not solved by such “fingerprints”. Maryland recent scrapped their “bullet database”, because it was expensive, and did not solve crimes:
      http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-bullet-casings-20151107-story.html

    • blowmeclown says:

      1) Don’t give them ideas, dummy!
      2) 99.9999999% of people, including criminals, carry smartphones, which are actually real-time tracking and mind-reading devices that can be subpoenaed to reveal EVERYTHING about EVERYBODY. There really isn’t much need for ballistic fingerprinting these days……

      • dittybopper says:

        I won’t carry one, except in special circumstances. Why would I want to carry location beacon/spying device?

  4. Gunny Doug says:

    “You could outlaw machining and assembling chunks of metal into functioning firearms, but that’s only going to deter people who are not doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, and if they aren’t doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, why the hell do you care?”

    Oh! Oh! I *know* this one!

    Ahem. Because it is not about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. It is about legislating guns out of the hands of citizens using the “death by a thousand cuts” tactic.

  5. Benjamin "Quirel" Warren says:

    We need Microsoft Clippy to come back.

    “Hi! It looks as if you are writing an article on firearm laws. Would you like to have the regulations explained to you?”

  6. Thirdpower says:

    This is a real gun! Those are real bullets! To bad they don’t do any real reporting.

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