A question of Morality


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Officers'Wife
June 7, 2010, 12:56 PM
Suppose you bought a 'war relic' rifle at a garage sale and on bringing it home discover it is full automatic. Further assume you know the person selling the weapon had no idea 'grandpa' brought home an illegal weapon.

Do you;

Violate the law & keep the weapon.

Look up the nearest 'no questions asked gun buyback'

or turn the weapon in giving full particulars on the purchase, possibly bringing the full weight of the federal government on a veteran's ignorant and somewhat ditzy grandchild?

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General Geoff
June 7, 2010, 12:59 PM
In reality, it would be a moot point because it would be fairly simple to check for full auto functionality (check chamber, pull bolt out of battery, hold trigger back, drop bolt, if the hammer drops, steer clear) before purchasing.

As a hypothetical, it's against forum rules (and common sense) to discuss illegal actions (which you would be committing if you came into possession of an unregistered machine gun). I'll leave it at that.

speaksoftly
June 7, 2010, 01:02 PM
As a hypothetical, it's against forum rules to discuss illegal actions...

IF this is the case then I'll delete my post...which is still answering the question in its own way haha.

Trebor
June 7, 2010, 01:03 PM
First, contact an attorney familiar with NFA law.

There is a chance the weapon might be registered in the NFA registry. If it is, than it is very valuable and could be legally transfered to you.

A knowledgeable attorney could help you try to determine if the weapon is in the NFA registry or not. If it is, than you can do a transfer.

If it is not, than you need to surrender it to the ATF. I believe you only need to surrender the receiver, and as the other parts have value, I would strip all the other parts off of the receiver before turning it in.

Have your attorney contact the ATF about surrendering the weapon.

Don't just contact the ATF to say, "Hey, I have this Machine gun..."

ForumSurfer
June 7, 2010, 01:04 PM
As a hypothetical, it's against forum rules (and common sense) to discuss illegal actions (which you would be committing if you came into possession of an unregistered machine gun). I'll leave it at that.

I have to agree. I could understand why one would go either way with that situation. I would have no desire to get someone in trouble, but I also don't want to get yours truly in trouble. It's a catch 22.

Perhaps it would be best to discuss matters with the seller. They could possibly refund you and then you could let the seller decide which ethical decision to make.

SSN Vet
June 7, 2010, 01:06 PM
I'd call a Class III FFL dealer (like the guys at Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns, who post on THR and are very helpfull) and solicit their opinion....

It may be legit pre-ban and simply require a tax stamp.

but I am NOT an authoritative opinion by any means... just stating that not all full auto weapons (and I suspect not even most ) are illegal.

They just have special registration requirements.

General Geoff
June 7, 2010, 01:07 PM
It may be legit pre-ban and simply require a tax stamp.

If it wasn't registered before May of 1986, then it can't be registered now, even if it was manufactured prior to '86.

SSN Vet
June 7, 2010, 01:10 PM
If it wasn't registered before May of 1986

yup.... and it "may" have been registered.

ya never know untill ya know

Hatterasguy
June 7, 2010, 01:16 PM
I'd lose it in a boating accident.:D

loadedround
June 7, 2010, 01:18 PM
That's a very interesting but a rather improbable question. After some thought and assuming no paperwork involved, I would keep the the full auto firearm, figuring what they don't know won't hurt them. Possibly there may be another amnesty some day.

strambo
June 7, 2010, 01:28 PM
Using an attorney to determine it's legality sounds best. I'm sure I couldn't remember the name of the person I bought it from though, esp. since it was a garage sale. I'm bad with names (it's true ask my wife.)

bigfatdave
June 7, 2010, 01:33 PM
I would be deeply saddened by the malfunction of my semi-auto firearm and would repair it as fast as possible.

Sam1911
June 7, 2010, 01:45 PM
This isn't a question of Morality, as far as THR is concerned, it is a question of law. I'm moving it to "Legal" so that we can get a few words in about what REALLY happens (or can happen) in these cases.

Being in possession of an unregistered (to you) machine gun in the hopes that it might have been registered at some point to someone leaves you SUPER out of luck. Not only are you in jeopardy of a 10 year stint in federal prison for possession (and up to a $250,000 fine), but you can't go get it registered to you later and the transfer itself was a felony.

The ATF says:

Q: May a private citizen who owns an NFA firearm which is not registered have the firearm registered?

No. The NFA permits only manufacturers, makers, and importers to register firearms. Mere possessors may not register firearms. An unregistered NFA firearm is a contraband firearm, and it is unlawful to possess the weapon. The possessor should contact the nearest ATF office to arrange for its disposition.

[26 U.S.C. 5861(d)]

Q: What can happen to someone who has an NFA firearm which is not registered to him?

Violators may be fined not more than $250,000, and imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both. In addition, any vessel, vehicle or aircraft used to transport, conceal or possess an unregistered NFA firearm is subject to seizure and forfeiture, as is the weapon itself.

[49 U.S.C. 781-788, 26 U.S.C. 5861 and 5872]


It has to be registered at the time of making, and the chain of registration has to remain unbroken.

content
June 7, 2010, 01:48 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // I gave the one I found to the gun store for parts in 1992.

Not a military weapon simply a .22 someone had played with.
I won it shooting pool and took it out back a few days later to try it out. Some one had managed to get a Savage 987 to fire in 3 round bursts,or single shot, each pull of the trigger was a surprise. Even though the "chunk,chunk,chunk" felt cool I did not want it in that condition.

The gun smith said it would cost more to fix then it was worth so I gave it to him for parts. They have been good to me so I figured this was better than the buy back program.
I had the ID info from the guy I got it from but the GS said it was not a big enough deal to track him down now that it is off the streets and he would just deny it anyway. Heck he might have gotten it the same way/ condition I did.

Sam1911
June 7, 2010, 01:48 PM
I would be deeply saddened by the malfunction of my semi-auto firearm and would repair it as fast as possible.

Keep in mind that most machine guns, submachine guns, assault rifles, etc. -- in civilian legal form -- are substantively different from their full-monty cousins. Generally the receivers must not be able to accept some critical part of the full-auto fire control system, or the full-auto bolt itself, etc.

Simply adjusting it so it doesn't go "rock-n-roll" doesn't change the ATF's definition of that weapon as an unregistered machine gun.

Sam1911
June 7, 2010, 01:52 PM
In reality, it would be a moot point because it would be fairly simple to check for full auto functionality (check chamber, pull bolt out of battery, hold trigger back, drop bolt, if the hammer drops, steer clear) before purchasing.

Oddly enough, that isn't always a VERY bad thing. Some guns (FALs, for example) that are completely compliant can still have a selector switch that rotates to the "fun" position and the hammer will follow. The design of the gun will keep it from actually firing a round, though. In reality, I'd probably still steer clear!

bigfatdave
June 7, 2010, 01:57 PM
Sam1911, it can't be a real full-auto gun, those are illegal to own unregistered and therefore do not exist. Therefore it is a malfunctioning semiauto.

Sam1911
June 7, 2010, 02:03 PM
Therefore it is a malfunctioning semiauto

Ohhh. Well, in that case, consider that a true semi-auto that is malfuntioning is considered an unregistered machine gun and will cost you 10 years / $250,000.

On the other hand, a gun that DOESN'T fire full-auto, but the receiver of which is in the original configuration to accept full-auto parts is considered an unregistered machine gun and will cost you 10 years / $250,000.

Note the important difference between the two!

Deanimator
June 7, 2010, 02:11 PM
I can't think of ANYTHING that you're likely to buy as a "war relic" that a reasonably well informed person wouldn't EXPECT to be full-auto if it was typically manufactured that way... nevermind the fact that it's apt to be an SBR anyway. I doubt that I'm going to come across an unregistered full-auto ZH29 at a "garage sale".

If I see a PPSh, MP40, Stg44, MG42 or the like, I'd be surprised if it WEREN'T full-auto.

Besides, the typical function check for anything that COULD be full-auto involves testing the disconnector to ensure that it PREVENTS full auto. If you hold down the trigger, work the action and the hammer or striker falls without you releasing the trigger, there had better be paperwork.

If somebody had something that was full-auto that SHOULDN'T be, without the proper paperwork, and I discovered that, I'd politely thank them and walk away. I don't want ANYTHING to do with the BATFE, either as a suspect OR an informant.

deadin
June 7, 2010, 02:25 PM
Over the years I've seen several M2 Carbines that were brought back from the war being offered for sale by the heirs of the vet that brought it back. They didn't have the slightest idea that it was a FA and therefor illegal.
(I also saw one that was purchased by a buyer that didn't have any idea what the little switch was for. Not everybody is a "gun expert" like we have here.:rolleyes:)

Deanimator
June 7, 2010, 02:57 PM
Over the years I've seen several M2 Carbines that were brought back from the war being offered for sale by the heirs of the vet that brought it back.
A cursory examination and function check should tell you something's up... not to mention the fact that it says "M2" and not "M1".

bigfatdave
June 7, 2010, 03:14 PM
Sam1911, you are absolutely correct, which is why I hope to never be in this situation, because I'd be mightily opposed to handing a functioning piece of machinery over to one of my least favorite agencies for destruction or (more likely in my opinion) theft by the people who are supposed to be controlling those tools.

Add in that the BATFE doesn't inspect my gun cabinet too often, and the internals of my firearms even less often ... ... well, we don't discuss illegal actions here on THR, so I'd be repairing that malfunctioning semi-auto in a hurry and making sure I didn't do things that would garner attention.

CoRoMo
June 7, 2010, 03:14 PM
There was a thread around here, just like this one, a few years ago. A member here, in Florida? I think, had a local Class III dealer/manufacturer there join in on the discussion. That guy only made a couple posts in that thread, but he said that he has seen this type of scenario happen many times. i.e. - Descendants find Grandpa's war trophy in the attic and start asking around for advice on what to do with it.

For some reason, I think I recall the dealer posting that he has been able to destroy a portion of the receiver and manufacture a new one in semi-auto, or something like that. I don't know... I can't find that thread for the life of me now.

General Geoff
June 7, 2010, 03:17 PM
That guy only made a couple posts in that thread, but he said that he has seen this type of scenario happen many times. i.e. - Descendants find Grandpa's war trophy in the attic and start asking around for advice on what to do with it.

I've seen this type scenario on this very board before. Poor guy posted pics of an MP-44 found in a closet, had no idea what it was or the legal ramifications thereof.

wishin
June 7, 2010, 03:49 PM
As a practical matter, the odds of the BATFE finding out are pretty slim. However, it's like having a stolen Van Gogh original painting that no one can know about........For me, 10 years in prison is a good deterrent. Coming up with $250k is out of the question.

CoRoMo
June 7, 2010, 04:15 PM
I know there's even been bouts of smuggling with our currently deployed guys. It's really just a risk that I couldn't possibly take, but I think a lot of them don't really know how big a risk it is that they are taking.

MisterMike
June 7, 2010, 04:32 PM
The only legally "safe" way to handle this is to have an attorney, with whom you have confidentiality, arrange for it to be turned over (assuming it's determined to be verboten). Sad, but true.

Officers'Wife
June 7, 2010, 04:57 PM
Hi Dean,

A cursory examination and function check should tell you something's up... not to mention the fact that it says "M2" and not "M1".

How many people without more than passing experience with things military would know the difference? With so many carbine clones made, the reasonable person would likely assume it to be a Universal not a Betty Crocker.

TomCat5
June 7, 2010, 05:13 PM
I dislike hypothetical...

TomCat5
June 7, 2010, 05:18 PM
:neener::neener::neener:

270savage
June 8, 2010, 05:28 PM
In reality, it would be a moot point because it would be fairly simple to check for full auto functionality (check chamber, pull bolt out of battery, hold trigger back, drop bolt, if the hammer drops, steer clear) before purchasing.

It may be necessary to develop a different check.
Given the sequence of actions described in this quote, my Remington model 141 and my Ithaca model 37 are both full auto.

swoter
June 8, 2010, 05:50 PM
Until reading this thread, I had no idea what a M2 was. If I either bought or was given one, I would have been very surprised when I pulled the trigger the first time! I would have assumed it was just a different version of the carbine I've seen at gunshows but never owned.

A and O
June 8, 2010, 06:06 PM
At today's prices I think I'll stick with semi-auto or even Bolt actions. MG's are fun however.

As to what would I do if I inadvertently came across one. Hope to find out someday, for certain I would do the right thing. I'll leave you wondering what "Shall Not Be Infringed Means"

General Geoff
June 8, 2010, 06:09 PM
It may be necessary to develop a different check.
Only if you have no concept of what an autoloader is.

Trebor
June 8, 2010, 09:22 PM
A cursory examination and function check should tell you something's up... not to mention the fact that it says "M2" and not "M1".

A cursory look at a M2 Carbine might not help much.

Many M2 Carbines were later converted back to M1 status. The full-auto parts are all just drop in, after all.

That means there are plenty of "M2" marked carbines that will only fire semi-auto, and are essentially no different from any other M-1 Carbine.

The problem is, the ATF considers any carbine marked M2 to be a machine gun, whether or not any of the specific M2 parts are present or not.

So, unless someone knows that, a simple function check that confirms semi-auto only capability does not still keep them out of legal harm.

A M-2 Carbine is always a MG, whether or not it can fire full-auto, and there are plenty of them floating around out there.

orionengnr
June 8, 2010, 10:00 PM
The first AR-15 I bought (used, almost 30 years ago) fired two rounds "on occasion".

Got me kicked off the range first (and only) time it happened. I was in CA at the time.

I replaced all the fire control parts (trigger, hammer, sear, selector). Worked as advertised after that, but I still worried about it and sold the rifle.

I'd probably do the same thing today.

I'm too old and skinny to spend the last 25 years of what I call a life in the...uh, pokey.

deadin
June 8, 2010, 10:46 PM
A M-2 Carbine is always a MG, whether or not it can fire full-auto, and there are plenty of them floating around out there.

And I believe that the CMP/DCM even sold some of them a number of years ago.

danez71
June 10, 2010, 12:24 AM
IMO, the only morality question here is if the garage seller gives your money back.

It can be argured for pages and pages here as to whether its buyer beware or not but IMO, seller should give money back. As a side note: I believe in another thread you stated buyer beware in reference to a rifle purchase with no mags ;).

Id quickly disassemble and break pieces to be non-op..... contact seller and ask for money back AND any paperwork you signed transferring ownership.... and use the NFA threat if needed to pursuade seller.

Depending how that went.... either contact lawyer...completely destroy...or possibly a no questions ask buy back is immediatly avail.

Keeping it is not even a thought in my mind.

RDak
June 10, 2010, 04:26 AM
Simply adjusting it so it doesn't go "rock-n-roll" doesn't change the ATF's definition of that weapon as an unregistered machine gun.
__________________

Interesting, I would have assumed that would take it out of the prohibited class. Learn something everyday.

The reason I'm surprised stems from all the M2 Carbines out there, but switched to semi-auto status.

Sam1911
June 10, 2010, 06:34 AM
The reason I'm surprised stems from all the M2 Carbines out there, but switched to semi-auto status.

Switched to semi-auto, perhaps, but the registered (or illegally unregistered!) status doesn't change.

The risk is in assuming that, because something is out there and occasionally to be found for sale, that it is kosher:

A M-2 Carbine is always a MG, whether or not it can fire full-auto, and there are plenty of them floating around out there.


Scary thought, eh?

BeerSleeper
June 10, 2010, 07:26 AM
If you try to return it to the seller, you are technically selling a firearm you know to be illegal. I'd hate to see what a politically motivated, ambitious prosecutor could do with that.

I'd consult a lawyer, and destroy whatever parts necessary to avoid running afoul of the law (maybe just the receiver, or the whole gun if necessary).

Whatever parts needs destroyed, I'd sooner do it myself than be identified, on record, as turning in an illegal arm to some amnesty program. Maybe it's the tinfoil hat, but that seems to me like getting on the radar. If I know which parts need destroyed, the cutting torch should make quick work of something no bigger than that.

Sam1911
June 10, 2010, 07:37 AM
Whatever parts needs destroyed, I'd sooner do it myself than be identified, on record, as turning in an illegal arm to some amnesty program. Maybe it's the tinfoil hat, but that seems to me like getting on the radar. If I know which parts need destroyed, the cutting torch should make quick work of something no bigger than that.

Um, but in cutting up the receiver wouldn't you be destroying evidence of a crime?

bigfatdave
June 10, 2010, 08:40 AM
wouldn't you be destroying evidence of a crime?Notice the thread title is "A question of Morality", not "A question of unconstitutional laws that create victimless crimes"

bigfatdave
June 10, 2010, 08:42 AM
Scary thought, eh? Scary how, exactly?
I highly doubt someone is just biding their time until they get an unregistered machine-gun to shoot up a school.

Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of pre-criminals? These infringements have got to go.

Sam1911
June 10, 2010, 09:37 AM
Scary how, exactly?
Scary in that there are things out there for sale that look and act just like legal "Title I" firearms but which can land you in federal prison for 10 years if you don't have the higher level of knowledge needed to avoid them. That's scary enough for me.

I highly doubt someone is just biding their time until they get an unregistered machine-gun to shoot up a school.Uh...yeah. :confused: I doubt that, either. Since when does the legal status (or even mechanical operating characteristics) of a weapon have ANYTHING to do with whether someone would commit mass murder?

Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of pre-criminals?Kind of depends on who you ask. Or at least on your point of view. Statisticians and some lawyers like to point out that there are so many tens of thousands (millions?) of laws on the books that it is statistically impossible for anyone to steer clear of violating some of them at some point. The truth or hyperbole of that statement is also probably difficult to prove!

These infringements have got to go. A novel idea. Any thoughts on how to get rid of them?

RDak
June 10, 2010, 10:03 AM
Yeah, it's a "scary thought" because if I bought a carbine, I'm not expert enough to know if it was a M2 type originally.

Corey
June 10, 2010, 01:22 PM
I'm not expert enough to know if it was a M2 type originally.
Where it says "M2" on the receiver is the first clue
http://www.guncity.co.nz/site/images/116690.jpg

If it says M2 on it then ATF says it is a machine gun no matter what parts are in it, even if it is just the stripped receiver it is still a machine gun. If it does not say M2 on it, then it is only a machine gun if it will fire more than one shot with a single function of the trigger.

As to the original topic:
ATF in my experience is not interested in prosecuting people because their grandfather brought home something from the war that he shouldn't of. On the other hand, they are not going to let you keep it, either. I did have one experience with ATF that I discussed in another thread involving finding an unregistered machine gun (a MG-08 Maxim). They researched it to see if it had ever been registered and when no records could be found they made arrangements to take just the right sideplate (the registered part on that particular gun) leaving the rest to be reassembled as a dummy gun. The gun belonged to a VFW post and was part of a war memorial, nobody knew the gun was a live gun untill we were cleaning up the memorial.

sonier
June 10, 2010, 01:29 PM
OH man what a piece of history, so since the barrel is marked M-2 even if you swap with a semi auto only receiver its still a MG?

Jim Watson
June 10, 2010, 02:00 PM
I have a different angle on the problem, legality and morality aside. The OP says:

"Suppose you bought a 'war relic' rifle at a garage sale and on bringing it home discover it is full automatic."

Why are you buying something you can't identify? Are we now so affluent you can just buy stuff on looks with no knowledge? That is a rhetorical question, it happens every day on the gunboards: "I just bought this gun (picture or vague description), WHAT DID I GET?" But it is a foreign concept to me. The only way I would buy a gun at a garage sale would be with the thought "Wow, I have always wanted one of those." Just possibly "That looks interesting, if they still have it by the time I have looked it up, I MIGHT buy it."

Corey
June 10, 2010, 02:04 PM
OH man what a piece of history, so since the barrel is marked M-2 even if you swap with a semi auto only receiver its still a MG?

That marking in the photo is on the receiver, It doesn't matter for ATF purposes what is marked on the barrel.

BTW that is not my gun (but I wish it was).

sonier
June 10, 2010, 02:17 PM
ok, so if you had one, you could prolly get away with swapping the receiver out.

mooner
June 10, 2010, 04:10 PM
I have an interesting story as to how something like this happens. I have been old that my great great uncle (dad's great uncle) was as close as you can get without succeeding to bringing his Thompson back from WW2. If this were the case, my father would have most likely ended up with it since the two of them went shooting all the time. My Father would not have been selling it at a garage sale, of course. But I really doubt he would have had any idea what the penalties of owning such a weapon could be.

I think I would have to agree with the poster that the BATF is not necessarily interested in prosecuting to the full extent of the law. But I have no doubt they wouldn't let you keep it. Could it be a case of ignorance is bliss?

MrM4
June 10, 2010, 06:59 PM
To the OP,

Theres some "not so right" stuff posted here that has simply is not true. Bottom line, in the senario you listed as long as you have control of that MG receiver your in hot water. Until it is properly demilled or transfered to you its illegal for you have control of it or any MG that is not registered to you for that matter.

Contact a legal expert to advise you, internet advise can get you tossed in the clink. Good intentions will get you no where in court. Getting pulled over while trying to take the gun back to the seller could be the start of a BAD day. Say nothing, do not transport the gun anywhere and get a NFA firmilure legal adviser ASAP. Most importantly dont post about it on the net.


In reguards to the "m2", the "once a MG always a MG rule" applys. IF at anything that receiver was capable of firing FA it is considered a FA until properly demilled, pulling parts out / dissassembelly / cutting in half to specs other then those given buy ATF will result in ATF calling it a LIVE MG.

BeerSleeper
June 10, 2010, 08:03 PM
Um, but in cutting up the receiver wouldn't you be destroying evidence of a crime?
Maybe. I look at it from a practical standpoint. In the aforementioned hypothetical scenario, the illegal firearm was purchased accidentally, and discovered later. No one was harmed, and there was no criminal intent. Destroying the illegal component of the firearm, or the entire firearm, seems a logical solution. This example is a victimless crime, or as I like to think of it, a crime only a lawyer would consider a crime.

Surrendering the weapon produces proof you were in possession of an illegal weapon, which puts you in jeopardy of being the next victim of an overzealous DA. Anyone willing to use common sense can see there's no real crime here, but if that information ends up in the hands of the DA, it would be a real bad time to find out he's an overzealous anti. You might suddenly find yourself having to prove you "accidentally" obtained an unregistered, full-auto firearm. Many a lawyer has made the good guys look bad, and the bad guys look good in a courtroom.

Surrendering the weapon to a proper authority just doesn't have enough guarantees of amnesty that I would take that chance. Hot potato strategy applies, drop it as fast as possible.

Prince Yamato
June 10, 2010, 08:35 PM
Everbody Panic!

First, contact a lawyer to see what you should do with the weapon. He'll probably tell you to turn the weapon over to the ATF who will then determine whether it can be legally owned by a civilian or not. If not, you will probably be given the option to have the weapon donated to a museum or to have the receiver destroyed.

MrM4
June 10, 2010, 08:58 PM
They dont just hand out Form 10s anymore, dont make the mistake that its an easy way out of a bad senario. But it is an option, almost the only one that involves the gun not being cut up into a parts kit.

shootr
June 10, 2010, 09:46 PM
In the OP's scenario - though I'd sincerely want to do "the right thing," I certainly wouldn't trust my luck to encountering an understanding ATF person or to dealing with a sympathetic DA.

IMO, too many of these people are power-hungry, working a politically ambitious agenda or might just want to bust someone because they can. Common sense and decency don't seem to be qualities I see much of in general and especially on the part of enforcement agencies I see around my home and read about across the nation.

I also don't think paying a lawyer is any guarantee of anything except a lighter wallet. The lawyer might get out-lawyered by an aggressive and more knowledgeable DA - or you might run out of "lawyer gas" long before you've reached home safely.

So... I think I'd trust no one. The piece would find its way to the bottom of a lake, no one would be the wiser and that would be that. The end.

RDak
June 11, 2010, 05:30 AM
Thanks for the info on the receiver markings Corey.

That seems easy enough!! :)

Corey
June 11, 2010, 11:53 AM
They dont just hand out Form 10s anymore
Actually they do. You can download the form here: http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5320-10.pdf

The problem is the form can only be completed and submitted by a law enforcement agency and then the weapon can only be owned by a law enforcement agency.

Officers'Wife
June 11, 2010, 12:18 PM
Since this thread has pretty much worked itself out, I wish to thank each of you for sharing your perspectives. You have given me much to think about and consider.

Sam1911
June 11, 2010, 01:51 PM
I'll take that as a request to close from the OP.

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