Real vs. Amateur Gunsmithing?


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DeBee
January 3, 2003, 11:46 AM
Where is the line drawn between amateur gunsmithing and 'real' gunsmithing???

Say for example, I mount a new scope on my hunting camp buddy's rifle and he 'pays' me with a case of beer...

Or I refinish a stock and reblue a friend's .22 for a couple of boxes of '06 ammo...

Perhaps I screw in a pre threaded Mauser barrel and fit the barrelled action to a custom stock and reblue and finish the stock test fire and sight in and take a modest sum of cash in return...

These are hypothetical examples.

Would such situations land a person in trouble?

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HSMITH
January 3, 2003, 12:29 PM
Doing it with the intention of making a profit is pretty much cut and dried, whether cash or goods/services IMO. Be darn careful if you do it. The odds of someone getting pinched are very very small in my opinion, but it could happen. Send an email or make a call to the ATF to find out where they draw the line, that might help you decide when and where you could help a buddy out.

sant
January 3, 2003, 06:05 PM
Don`t know if this helps I copied it from the ATF web site

"(I1) Is a license needed to engrave, customize, refinish or repair a firearm?"


"Yes. A person conducting such activities as a business is considered to be a gunsmith within the definition of a dealer

'
By license he is referring to an Federal Firearms License.

VaughnT
January 3, 2003, 06:15 PM
As I see it, any "hobby" should comprise at least 30% of your yearly income to be considered a job. If you're doing little things in your spare time for friends, that's not a job because it doesn't bring in an appreciable amount of goods in trade.

I would also define "real" and "amateur". I've just had a horrible experience with a full-time "real" smith who is nothing but amateur in my book. To be a real smith, to me, means being as much an artist as a craftsman. Just because you can thread a hole or file a stock doesn't mean you are a real smith. Some wise old man once said, "Having a child no more makes you a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist."? The same applies to craftsmanship and gunsmithing.

xtarheel
January 3, 2003, 08:26 PM
It has always been my understanding that a FFL is required to work on another person's "firearm". What is a "firearm"? I believe the regulations indicate is that part of a gun that is required to have a serial number. Therefore if you mount a scope on someone's rifle, you need a FFL. If that same person gave you the stock off his rifle and asked you to checker it, you would not need a FFL. If the above is true, if someone gave you a Hastings barrel for a Remington 870 with a cantilever scope base and had you scope it, you could do so as long as you did not have the receiver. It can get very confusing to say the least!

JohnBT
January 3, 2003, 09:12 PM
But if this is the only reg that applies...

"Yes. A person conducting such activities as a business is considered to be a gunsmith within the definition of a dealer " BATF

Then...If I mount a scope for a friend, or refinish a stock for my father, or work on a trigger or take the magazine disconnect out of an HP and I DON'T take any money, ammo or beer for it - then I'm not doing it as a business and it is perfectly legal.

I'm not missing something here am I?

John

George Stringer
January 4, 2003, 07:34 AM
The way the ATF explained it to me, I was asking about working on Class III firearms without a class III license, was that as long as the owner is present while the work is being performed a license is not required. He went on to say "just like a unlicensed guy mounting a scope or something for a friend." The easiest thing to do is get your license. Then you don't have to worry about it. George

Pistolsmith
January 4, 2003, 12:07 PM
I contacted the Washington office of ATF and asked whether a range coach could adjust a firearm on the range for a student.
The reply was "Not unless he is an FFL holder."
I learned later that this was an agent's interpretation, and each agent is free to interpret the law.
Maybe you can understand this; I can't.
I have to assume that it is from case law on prosecutions under the 1968 "Crime in the streets" act. Case law would take precedence over statutory law. Also, any state law more punitive than the Federal law would take precidence.
I do know this for a fact: A member of our arms collectors club was prosecuted and sent to prison for tightening the screws on a rifle he sold to a stranger through a newspaper ad. This happened in 1969. We were able to hire a lawyer and get him released early, but his conviction stood. He was in his mid-seventies at the time.
Also, like asking an IRS agent about something in the income tax laws, his opinion will not stand up in court if you refer to it, though it may stand for him. Very confusing. Bottom line: Who knows? Postscript: Just because you see it in print doesn't mean it will stand up in court; you need to research judicial (case) law to be certain. And, that will only stand until another judge interprets it.

George Stringer
January 4, 2003, 03:22 PM
That's why when I have a question for the ATF I talk to a Compliance Officer, not an agent. Agents are the ones who do the raids, make arrest, etc. Compliance handles licensing. George

JohnBT
January 4, 2003, 08:26 PM
Well this is proving to be quite interesting.

Let me get this straight. I loan my father my '63 Marlin Mountie and he tightens the takedown screw and the filler plugs in the receiver before he returns it, he's a gunsmith? Uh-huh. Clear as mud.

I'm really not confused about law, lawyers and nebulous interpretations. Dad was a State Trooper and I've worked for the government for 29 years.

To quote Dickens in Oliver Twist, “The law is a ass, a idiot.”

John

Harold Mayo
January 4, 2003, 09:09 PM
I do know this for a fact: A member of our arms collectors club was prosecuted and sent to prison for tightening the screws on a rifle he sold to a stranger through a newspaper ad. This happened in 1969.

Pistolsmith, can you PM me with some more information on this? I am collecting information about several different commonly-held beliefs in the gun world, specifically as the law applies, and would like to know more about this incident.

JohnBT
January 5, 2003, 10:13 AM
Good morning. I've done a little looking around and here's what I've turned up so far about the definition of dealer and/or gunsmith from the Gun Control Act of 1968.

www.nraila.org/media/misc/FederalFirearms.htm#Sec. 5802


(D) as applied to a dealer in firearms, as defined in section 921(a)(11)(B), a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to engaging in such activity as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional repairs of firearms, or who occasionally fits special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms;


Even though it says "...but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional repairs of firearms...", I'm still not going to take any money for helping people by doing simple things like mounting scopes, cleaning or refinishing stocks and fighting rust.

John

(Now I'm worried I'll be charged for working as an unlicensed auto mechanic for tinkering with my 76-y-o neighbor's old car in return for a meal and an occasional cigarette?)

Nero Steptoe
January 5, 2003, 12:07 PM
"As I see it, any "hobby" should comprise at least 30% of your yearly income to be considered a job...."

Would you mind providing your legal source for the above information?? Thanks.

Pistolsmith
January 5, 2003, 03:08 PM
If you want some real heartburn, consult issue 1 or the FFL Newsletter, which came in the mail last week. Page 3, paragraph headed "Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax Information".
These changes now even change the status of black powder guns.
Perhaps somebody has information on the outcome of an ATF prosecution of gunsmiths Lawson and Bivens. That case seems to be the trial balloon.

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