Legal unregistered machinegun!


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Zoogster
August 8, 2007, 04:23 PM
I was curious on the legality of US citizens possessing various makes and models of firearms not normaly legal in the US while outside of the country.

Normaly I would have assumed outside the territory is outside the law, yet recent examples have shown the US is willing to prosecute crimes commited outside of the US jurisdiction.
We see this with the recent hunting prosecution of the billionaire that was hunting from a soviet aircraft while the government turned a blind eye.http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/2007/07/stuff-i-didnt-k.html
We see it for a number of offense lately.
Related to weapons one such instance is: http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Suspect_in_Laos_plot_detained_in_Thailand%3B_suspects_plead_not_guilty_in_California

In this case they never technicaly possessed or owned the weapons in question while in US territory and would only have assumed ownership of them once in Thailand. Yet the ATF and other agencies arrested them in a sting.
I understand to some extent the political reasons for wanting to arrest them, and perhaps charges relating to intent abroad. However I want to focus strictly on the arms aspect and legality.

Considering distributors and dealers exist that can and do own post ban machine guns and sell to the market who can purchase them within the US, namely LEOs, as well as foreign markets, what is the legality of a US citizen purchasing them to be delivered to a foreign location, especialy if they are legal in said foreign destination? When the US citizen is within US territory. How about when the citizen is outside US territory for delivery to outside location?

Can a collector purchase and store such firearms outside US territory legaly if they never have possession or legal ownership within US territory? If so how do they go about not getting setup in a sting by the ATF and made to appear to be attempting to purchase and own them in the US even when that is not the case?

How about manufacter? Would it be legal for a US citizen to make a select fire trigger group while say on a private vessel in international waters, as long as they dump it over the side prior to entering other waters? Say someone on a yacht wanted to have select fire protection with a legal semi auto firearm while traveling the open seas, and was willing to discard the easy to make item prior to entering territorial waters.
Furthermore what is legal waters? Territorial waters are 12 miles out. Under UN law an additional 12 miles are part of the "contiguous zone" where smuggling laws can be enforced. Does that mean 12 miles is legal, but one could get arrested under the guise of "attempting to smuggle" type laws or does it mean it would only be legal 24 miles out? If one was to bring metal 24-25 miles off coast and manufacter a auto sear or similar device for personal ownership to be discarded before entering waters once more would that be legal? What US laws is a citizen still subject to while in such waters?

Personal opinions are welcome, but I am really hoping for some clear precise laws and links as to legality.
Furthermore I know of many instances where the US coast guard continues to enforce its rules much further out. Is this legal? Does the US just make up its own rules and the rest of the world lives by different ones? Please help me understand this.

Furthermore when possessing such firearms illegaly in other nations what jurisdiction does the US have over its citizens? Wouldn't Blackwater type orginizations be illegaly possessing such firearms in the jurisdictions of nations outside the US against the local laws? Many Places ban possession legaly, but do not enforce it and ownership is common throughout the third world. Can the US enforce these laws and prosecute a US citizen later for possession in other nations? Is it selective enforcement or is there clear legal guidelines?

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ConfuseUs
August 8, 2007, 04:49 PM
In this case they never technicaly possessed or owned the weapons in question while in US territory and would only have assumed ownership of them once in Thailand.


Although it may be difficult to make a possession charge stick, you can make illegal arms trafficking, conspiracy to ship arms illegally, conspiracy to engage in violent acts, etc. charges stick very handily. Since they examined a truckload of weapons in U.S. territory, then any instance when a member of this group had an illegal weapon in his hands is technically an instance of possession. These guys were definitely breaking a bunch of laws related to illegal weapons, even if they never actually took ownership of them in the U.S. or its territories.

Now, as far as possessing an AK-47 outside of the U.S. goes we have the case of John Walker Lindh. He was captured in Afghanistan in possession of an AK-47 rifle and at least one grenade. He has been convicted of illegally possessing an automatic weapon and one explosive device. Since he wasn't in the U.S. when he had that AK-47 then it is reasonable to conclude that precedent now exists to say that possessing an automatic rifle outside of the U.S. or its territories is now illegal, even if it is legal in that area.

Of course, IANAL, and YMMV.

jlbraun
August 8, 2007, 04:55 PM
Since he wasn't in the U.S. when he had that AK-47 then it is reasonable to conclude that precedent now exists to say that possessing an automatic rifle outside of the U.S. or its territories is now illegal, even if it is legal in that area.


That is (non-THR, redacted) (non-THR, redacted) (non-THR, redacted)! :cuss:

ctdonath
August 8, 2007, 04:56 PM
FWIW, YMMV:
New York State punished me for speeding in Canada. The judged discounted my obvious objection, citing "reciprocity".

Cybercop
August 8, 2007, 04:59 PM
Now, as far as possessing an AK-47 outside of the U.S. goes we have the case of John Walker Lindh. He was captured in Afghanistan in possession of an AK-47 rifle and at least one grenade. He has been convicted of illegally possessing an automatic weapon and one explosive device. Since he wasn't in the U.S. when he had that AK-47 then it is reasonable to conclude that precedent now exists to say that possessing an automatic rifle outside of the U.S. or its territories is now illegal, even if it is legal in that area.

I think you will find that the possession wasn't the problem. Possessing it in a declared combat zone is. You just don't go out "plinkin" near guys using heavy artillery.

Jim

Limeyfellow
August 8, 2007, 05:58 PM
Since he wasn't in the U.S. when he had that AK-47 then it is reasonable to conclude that precedent now exists to say that possessing an automatic rifle outside of the U.S. or its territories is now illegal, even if it is legal in that area.

Its not only firearms that they been doing this for. They will also try you for committing sexual acts. A good instance would be even though sexual intercourse is legal in the UK at aged 16, if a US citizen or legal resident would have sex with someone below the age of 18 in that country the US will still charge them with federal sex crimes.

It goes on over dozens of different subjects and while its not a crime in the countries they are occuring the US claim that because that person is normally under US law that they are under it regardless of who's soveriegn terrority they are in.

jpk1md
August 8, 2007, 06:53 PM
FWIW, YMMV:
New York State punished me for speeding in Canada. The judged discounted my obvious objection, citing "reciprocity".

WHAT?!?!? How?

redneck2
August 8, 2007, 06:58 PM
So, let me understand this with the easiest example I can think of...

let's say I go to Amsterdam to use drugs that are legal there but illegal here...

akodo
August 8, 2007, 07:01 PM
okay, intentional or not, there is some outright bad info on the part of the origninal poster. Read your own link

Also on Monday, Vang Pao and nine others accused in the plot pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in U.S. district court in Sacramento, California. They are charged with violating the Neutrality Act, which makes it a crime to conspire to overthrow a foreign government that is on friendly terms with the United States, as well as conspiracy to kill, kidnap and maim, and conspiracy to export munitions without a license.

Conspiracy to overthrow a friendly nation
Conspiracy to kill
Conspiracy to kidnap and maim
Conspiracy to export munitions without a licence

Not a single charge of 'possession of a class 3 weapon without valid tax stamp' not a single charge of 'californian in possession of a prohibited firearm'

If these guys were attempting to send crates of Mosin-Nagants, Remington 700s, and Ruger GP-100s to the potential insurgents in thailand, they would have been charged just the same.

All of your theoretical examples do not apply to this case, as they don't involve an attempt to arm a revolutionary force for the purposes of overthrowing a government the USA is friendly with.

So yes, you can be in international waters and convert your AK to full auto, just don't give it to someone and tell him to go overthrow the Saudi Royal Family. Don't give him your H&R Topper single shot 12 guage and tell him to overthrow the Saudies either.

Neo-Luddite
August 8, 2007, 07:29 PM
Like anything, it's who's doing the what and where that counts.

Remember, when the astronauts came back from the moon, they had to declare the moon rocks when they went through customs.

Zoogster
August 8, 2007, 08:05 PM
okay, intentional or not, there is some outright bad info on the part of the origninal poster.

Conspiracy to overthrow a friendly nation
Conspiracy to kill
Conspiracy to kidnap and maim
Conspiracy to export munitions without a licence

You just misread what I said then, and I asked you to think beyond the non weapon aspects.
Perhaps you missed this part:
I understand to some extent the political reasons for wanting to arrest them, and perhaps charges relating to intent abroad. However I want to focus strictly on the arms aspect and legality.
Notice the agency that handled the entire investigation and arrest was ATF, not FBI , NSA, etc. The main focus of the investigation was the weapons involved, the additional charges they came up with were icing on the cake.
Not trying to turn the thread into policies about that specific incident, but do notice it is the same Hmong people supported to overthrow the very same Laotion government, through the CIA during the Vietnam conflict. Some had simply left the zone, lived in the US awhile and were planning to return and continue the very same fight still going on with the same people there (who currently have no home because Thailand deports them back to Laos, and Laos gets rid of them.) We made them enemies with thier government, and now we are "friends" with the same government.

However that is besides the point. They were arrested for "conspiring" to do something outside the country. That is what my focus is on related to firearms, prosecution under US law for doing things or attempting to do things related to firearms use or possession outside US territory. How it is legal in some cases, illegal in others, and what and who determines based on what criteria legal or illegal use of firearms outside US territory and jurisdiction falls under US jurisdiction for prosecution.
If that example does not suit you for discussion of the subject pick another one.

So yes, you can be in international waters and convert your AK to full auto, just don't give it to someone and tell him to go overthrow the Saudi Royal Family. Don't give him your H&R Topper single shot 12 guage and tell him to overthrow the Saudies either.
That is more on topic. What makes you arrive at this conclusion and why is this legal outside US jurisdiction but previously mentioned things are not? Can you point me to where these shifting moving lines are drawn so it is clear what side of the line one is on at all times?
Also "international waters" are 200 miles out. "Territorial" waters are the inland 12 miles. 12 additional miles are the "Contiguous zone". Between that 24 and 200 miles a nation owns all resource rights, yet it is supposed to be outside the legal jurisdiction of the nation per UN law as signed by the USA and most of the rest of the world.

hiaintgottnunne
August 8, 2007, 08:37 PM
Well go figger. the bloody usfeds can declare uslaws to be binding when a ussubject is in international or othernational space, so why the usfed posturing about sovereignty when mexico states that it's subjects are only ruled by mexican law when they are outside mexico?:fire:

Zoogster
August 8, 2007, 08:56 PM
so why the usfed posturing about sovereignty when mexico states that it's subjects are only ruled by mexican law when they are outside mexico?
Well that is entirely different. If the Mexican is in the territory of another nation they are bound under that nation's laws. How it would be similar is if say said person was a LEGAL immigrant from Mexico, and possessed a hunting arm legal per US law and Mexico prosecuted them because said arm would not be legal to have in Mexico.
I do not argue the legality of being subject to another nation's laws while I am in said nation. My focus is while outside of any nation, or in another nation as it pertains to US law.

Would it change with dual citizenship? How about with renounced citizenship?(theoreticly, I know ownership in the US of other firearms would then be impacted among other things)
At what point is one subject to US law outside the US, what is technicaly outside the US (according to officials, I know what the world considers), and who decides this and where can we review said laws and guidelines?

mp510
August 8, 2007, 09:18 PM
The individuals were US Citizens who were conspiring to overthrow a foreign regime were not busted for the weapons, but for what they intended to do with the weapons. Big difference.

Say someone on a yacht wanted to have select fire protection with a legal semi auto firearm while traveling the open seas, and was willing to discard the easy to make item prior to entering territorial waters.
Once a machine gun, always a machine gun. Additionally, the items like Drop In Auto Sears, for example, require additional modification to the original receiver, in order to accomadate all the necesary components (in most platforms, more than one part or modification is needed to facilitate a conversion).

Zoogster
August 8, 2007, 09:23 PM
Once a machine gun, always a machine gun.

I believe the ATF has ruled the full auto sear is in fact the machine gun. With legal ones that are pre ban I believe someone can put that in a firearm and then remove it and while the sear is always a machine gun, and laws regarding machineguns always apply to it, the firearm it is put into is not unless it's serial number was registered as such. Right?

Even if it was the case that once converted always a machine gun (which in the above example I don't think is true), could one just convert a cheap firearm to full auto and toss the whole thing in the ocean before entering waters and consider it just part of the expense of a trip. A couple hundred dollar sheet metal hunk o' junk tossed overboard would not be a big expense for someone doing such traveling compared to overall costs.
Even THEN if what you assume is accurate, and conversion makes it forever a machinegun even if it could be converted back and the conversion pieces disposed of before entering US territory, it would only be the lower reciever (and conversion parts) which is what the ATF considers the firearm. So just the lower could be disposed of and the rest of the firearm retained as the lower is technicaly the "firearm".

Furthermore for clarification I am not saying taking such a trigger group or device out of the US, because possession or ownership of such a device and firearm at any time in US territory is possession of said "machinegun". I am saying if one just took some sheet metal out and completely fabricated it outside US territory and therefore never had the device in the US period.

mp510
August 8, 2007, 09:53 PM
I believe the ATF has ruled the full auto sear is in fact the machine gun. With legal ones that are pre ban I believe someone can put that in a firearm and then remove it and while the sear is always a machine gun, and laws regarding machineguns always apply to it, the firearm it is put into is not unless it's serial number was registered as such. Right?

Right, DIAS have been registered as machineguns. However, in order for it to function with the weapon it's married to (assuming it is an AR series for example), certain modifications need to be made to the lower reciever to accomadate the DIAS and the select fire fire-control parts. Those changes aren't going anywhere, and if the DIAS was removed, I have a good feeling that the ATF would take issue with a firearm floating around that is so readily convertable, since with the addition of a non-registered DIAS, it could easily be made into a machinegun. Remember that even the co-posession of an AR-15 (type) semi-auto and M-16 series fire control parts has been construed as machinegun posession under the constructive posession concept by ATF.

CleverNickname
August 8, 2007, 11:19 PM
No modifications need be performed on a AR15 lower to work with a DIAS, as long as it's a "low-shelf" lower. Some brands that are "low-shelf" include Bushmaster and DPMS. "High-shelf" lowers have to have be machined so that the "shelf" area where the RDIAS sits is slightly lower. But since this is just making them the equivalent of a "low-shelf" lower the BATFE can't and doesn't consider doing this to be making a machine gun. No lower with standard-size fire control pin holes needs any machining at all to work with the required M16 fire control parts for an RDIAS. An AR15 would need some extra metal machined away if it were converted to an M16, in order to provide room for an M16 auto sear. But we're talking about an RDIAS, not an M16 auto sear.

Zoogster
August 8, 2007, 11:46 PM
No modifications need be performed on a AR15 lower to work with a DIAS, as long as it's a "low-shelf" lower. Some brands that are "low-shelf" include Bushmaster and DPMS. "High-shelf" lowers have to have be machined so that the "shelf" area where the RDIAS sits is slightly lower. But since this is just making them the equivalent of a "low-shelf" lower the BATFE can't and doesn't consider doing this to be making a machine gun. No lower with standard-size fire control pin holes needs any machining at all to work with the required M16 fire control parts for an RDIAS. An AR15 would need some extra metal machined away if it were converted to an M16, in order to provide room for an M16 auto sear. But we're talking about an RDIAS, not an M16 auto sear.
Thank you :)
Also your comment is TO WORK WITH A REGISTERED EXISTING ONE. I was mentioning complete fabrication to work around the firearm. So it could be made any size as it would not be a RDIAS but a DIAS custom made to specs. So for both high and low shelf one could simply be made to proper dimensions. People get used to modifying a firearm around the device due to legality, but if the device was designed for the firearm instead of the firearm designed (modified) for the device (which is done since none can be made post 86) things become much simplier. If it is legal in such location then it does not really matter what kind it is and no modifications need to be made to the firearm, they can all be made to the device which would be fabricated for the purpose of working with that specific model. This means one is not stuck trying to work around the dimensions of an existing RDIAS and can make it to dimensions of whatever type they installing it on.

My question is still on the legality of it outside US territory by a US citizen.

Novus Collectus
August 8, 2007, 11:51 PM
Its not only firearms that they been doing this for. They will also try you for committing sexual acts. A good instance would be even though sexual intercourse is legal in the UK at aged 16, if a US citizen or legal resident would have sex with someone below the age of 18 in that country the US will still charge them with federal sex crimes.

It goes on over dozens of different subjects and while its not a crime in the countries they are occuring the US claim that because that person is normally under US law that they are under it regardless of who's soveriegn terrority they are in. The sex crimes legislation is legislation specifically declaring such an an act overseas illegal and the act prosecutable in the US. I am pretty sure there is no such law declaring using or making full auto while overseas illegal.

According to a Supreme Court ruling a few years ago where a man was convicted of a felony in Japan and was denied the right to buy a gun in America as a result of the conviction. The SC eventually found the convictions in another country does not prohibit an American not convicted of a felony (or other crimes that qualify) in America from buying a firearm.
"Congress ordinarily intends its statutes to have domestic, not extraterritorial, application," http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/26/news/court.php

Novus Collectus
August 8, 2007, 11:53 PM
I was wonderintg recently too about going twelve miles out on a ship or an old oil rig to do some full auto conversions. I always wanted to try the shoestring sull auto conversion.

CypherNinja
August 9, 2007, 02:05 AM
LOL. To SEALAND!!!! :D

Imagine the "gun tourism" they could get from the UK. :eek:

daniel (australia)
August 9, 2007, 02:59 AM
It is probably worth throwing in for consideration the case of Hew Griffiths, who was extradited from Australia to the US earlier this year and is now serving 51 months jail in Virginia for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. Prior to his extradition Griffiths, UK born and Australian resident since childhood, had never even been to the US.

He was allegedly the ringleader in Australia of a group in which cracked and distributed games and other software - though it was never alleged he profited from any of this activity.

The jurisdictional nexus was apparently the fact that the piracy ring allegedly made some use of a network hosted in the US, so even though the accused never left Australia and did whatever he did from his PC here in Oz that was enough for it to be held that he had committed or conspired to commit an offence in the US.

:uhoh:

Zoogster
August 9, 2007, 03:05 AM
Found something VERY scary:
http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/fs/68550.htm

U.S. Arms Export Control Compliance and Enforcement and the UN Program of Action for Small Arms and Light Weapons (SA/LW)

Notice many of the convictions are of people "attempting" or in other words "conspiring" to ship something out of the US. The scary part about "conspiracy" charges is the burden of proof is relatively low because the ability to prove "intent" is completely circumstantial and open to interpretation. So innocently taking something legal outside the country can be made out to be any number of evil violations of UN law based on what they decide to say your plans were.

Furthermore notice some of these cases are not even for firearms. Laser sights for M16's are listed. Those are not even controlled items!

Military Laser Sights to Foreign Locations. On April 27, 2005, Sotaro Inami, a Japanese national, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for conspiracy to export U.S. munitions list articles to Japan. Inami and co-conspirator Takashi Matsubara had been charged in July 2004 as a result of an undercover ICE and Defense Criminal Investigative Service investigation. According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to purchase and illegally export military laser sights for M-16 and M-5 rifles to locations outside the United States. Inami was arrested at the Los Angeles airport on February 17, 2004 after he arrived to attend a weapons show in Las Vegas. A felon for trying to legaly purchase and ship gun sights out of the country! Obviously shipping the same devices if they were not intended for use on firearms would be like shipping a laser, not much different than shipping a flashlight. Yet because it is for a firearm it suddenly warrants 15 months in prison. A light mounted on a gun is "U.S. munitions list articles". SCARY!
Just imagine the type of sentences one would get for actual firearms!

Perhaps taking firearms anywhere is not such a good idea. You might be legaly creating or doing whatever at sea and get boarded by the Coast Guard(which was transfered to the control of Homeland Security) and arrested for "conspiracy to arm _____ terrorist organization" and go directly to jail, do not pass go, even if your intent was merely to be armed while traveling through "lawless" waters. Even if in international waters as these are international laws.

I can just see it now, happy and content with finding a legal way to go far out into the ocean and build something and then getting thrown into prison for nothing because they come up with some non existant reason for you to be possessing or making such things. Suddenly one will have been trying to overthrow something, or conspiring to arm someone somewhere that some government does not like.

The export laws seem pretty extreme and trying to prove one was not attempting to export something after taking it to sea could be difficult. I was so concerned with the import laws regardin such things and not entering US territory with something not permitted that I did not even think of export laws. Technicaly a perfectly legal semi auto taken out of the country could get one arrested for export violations even without making parts or converting it to something that would make one look more sinister on trial etc. Simply saying you were planning to take it someplace and the fact that you had it would likely suffice as evidence of guilt to violate export laws.

I thought state and federal laws were tough to navigate, oh my.
The world is just crazy now.

Novus Collectus
August 9, 2007, 10:55 AM
Zoogster, I thought about this too. There is a form you fill out when taking a firearm with you when leaving the country and a form you fill out when re-importing the same firearm. If the firearm is for personal use and not for export sale, and it is not an item prohibitted from export at all, then there should be no problem on that part.

Also, taking the parts to convert the firearm to full auto with the firearm is possession of a machine gun. One must not have both at the same time in the US so you would either have to make two trips or have a friend with a second boat.

Jim K
August 9, 2007, 11:14 AM
My, the ingenious ways people think of to try to get around the ban on new machineguns. How about I want to shoot an MG so badly that I charter the QE2, sail out 100 miles, use their machine shop to make a machinegun, shoot it, drop the gun and any special tooling overboard, and come home.

A trip to Knob Creek and renting a gun would cost less, but that would not be a real exercise of the imagination.

The guys planning a revolution in Thailand were NOT arrested for having illegal weapons, they were arrested for planning a revolution in a friendly nation. As for the guy hunting in Russia, I doubt the U.S. will file charges, but there are treaties on endangered animals, and hunting them would be a violation of the treaty (and hence of U.S. law) no matter where the hunting took place.

Most of the other stuff is simple nonsense. Gotta go now, I have a call in to Cunard.

Jim

Novus Collectus
August 9, 2007, 11:19 AM
Jim Keenan, it is an excersise in academics, but for some people who actually go out to sea every once in a while might be easier for them to do this than it is to go to Knob Creek....some of us live by the ocean ya know. ;)

Art Eatman
August 9, 2007, 11:22 AM
Good luck on your charter, Jim.

THR is not the place to try and figure out how to avoid/evade/get around US laws about anything.

Enuf.

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