Definition of "Firearm"


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52grain
February 4, 2011, 09:17 PM
For ARs you have to have an FFL to sell lower, but as far as I can tell, pretty much anyone can assemble and sell uppers as long as they are not making or selling the lower assembly. Is this because the AR upper group by itself is not considered a firearm, but the lower receiver is considered the firearm for regulatory purposes?

What does the ATF define as a "firearm?" Is it the receiver? Meaning that you can make and sell as many magazines, barrels, triggers, stocks, etc (including in the case of the AR, assembling upper groups) as you want without being a licensed manufacturer or dealer as long as you aren't manufacturing and selling receivers?

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tyeo098
February 4, 2011, 09:57 PM
For ARs you have to have an FFL to sell lower, but as far as I can tell, pretty much anyone can assemble and sell uppers as long as they are not making or selling the lower assembly. Is this because the AR upper group by itself is not considered a firearm, but the lower receiver is considered the firearm for regulatory purposes?

What does the ATF define as a "firearm?" Is it the receiver? Meaning that you can make and sell as many magazines, barrels, triggers, stocks, etc (including in the case of the AR, assembling upper groups) as you want without being a licensed manufacturer or dealer as long as you aren't manufacturing and selling receivers?
Partially Correct.

The part the ATF cares about is the receiver, the part with the serial number.

Technically, if you only making them for private use, you could forge your own lower receivers as well.
But thats for the 'smithing forum ;)

And you dont have to have an FFL to sell the lower, they can be sold/bought/traded in private sales like any other firearm.

52grain
February 4, 2011, 10:05 PM
Partially Correct.

The part the ATF cares about is the receiver, the part with the serial number.

Technically, if you only making them for private use, you could forge your own lower receivers as well.
But thats for the 'smithing forum

And you dont have to have an FFL to sell the lower, they can be sold/bought/traded in private sales like any other firearm.

Sorry should have been more specific, I meant for commercial purposes as businesses are more closely regulated.

kingpin008
February 4, 2011, 10:14 PM
And you dont have to have an FFL to sell the lower, they can be sold/bought/traded in private sales like any other firearm.

This is only partially correct. In some states, even private sales are required to go through an FFL.

NavyLCDR
February 5, 2011, 12:32 AM
What does the ATF define as a "firearm?" Is it the receiver? Meaning that you can make and sell as many magazines, barrels, triggers, stocks, etc (including in the case of the AR, assembling upper groups) as you want without being a licensed manufacturer or dealer as long as you aren't manufacturing and selling receivers?

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000921----000-.html

§ 921. Definitions

(a) As used in this chapter—

(3) The term “firearm” means

(A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;
(B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon;
(C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or
(D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.

52grain
February 5, 2011, 10:11 AM
§ 921. Definitions

(a) As used in this chapter—

(3) The term “firearm” means

(A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;
(B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon;
(C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or
(D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.

So basically the "frame or receiver" is the part containing the serial number (in the case of the AR the lower). If you making or selling the part with the serial number for business purposes, you need a license. You do not need license to make and sell other gun parts. Right?

On a bolt gun, is the bolt considered a part of the receiver or is it separate?

TexasRifleman
February 5, 2011, 10:16 AM
On a bolt gun, is the bolt considered a part of the receiver or is it separate?

Bolt is just "parts" usually.

As for what piece is the "firearm" the ATF determines this at Tech Branch. Manufacturers normally submit a sample firearm to Tech Branch before going into production and ATF rules on whether it's OK to sell and what part is the "firearm".

NavyLCDR
February 5, 2011, 12:12 PM
So basically the "frame or receiver" is the part containing the serial number (in the case of the AR the lower). If you making or selling the part with the serial number for business purposes, you need a license. You do not need license to make and sell other gun parts. Right?

On a bolt gun, is the bolt considered a part of the receiver or is it separate?

That is all correct. The bolt is just a part. If you have questions about a particular part you can look here:
http://www.gunpartscorp.com/

and see if the company requires that part to be sent to an FFL for transfer.

Assembling complete firearms and reselling them as a business requires a manufacturer's FFL. For instance if you advertised complete AR uppers and people brought in their lowers and you assembled them onto your uppers as a business and returned a full rifle to them - that would require a manufacturers license.

Owen
February 5, 2011, 12:39 PM
however, if you are building and selling uppers as a business, I'd say you could be on shaky ground.

It's not a stretch to call that gunsmith, and the ATF requires gunsmiths to have an FFL.

jimmyraythomason
February 5, 2011, 01:02 PM
What does the ATF define as a "firearm?" IMO,ATF has the same view of definitions as did Robert J.Pierce,an Army Corp of Engineers official when asked to define what a "wetland" was said "For regulatory purposes, a wetland is whatever we decide it is".

NavyLCDR
February 5, 2011, 01:13 PM
however, if you are building and selling uppers as a business, I'd say you could be on shaky ground.

It's not a stretch to call that gunsmith, and the ATF requires gunsmiths to have an FFL.

I think it is a stretch. The ATF only regulates Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. I can walk into a local gunshop, that holds an FFL, buy a complete AR-15 upper, and walk out with no 4473, no NICS check. I can mail order a complete AR-15 upper mail order from across the US and have it mailed to me directly at my house, with no signature even required for receipt. Does a manufacturer of holsters require an FFL? Or slings? Or bipods? Or scope mounts?

That's because AR-15 uppers are not firearms! If there is no firearms license required, no 4473, no NICS check required to buy/sell/trade/make uppers. One would require a state business license, however.

When I attach that upper to a lower, now I have taken a lower receiver, classified as an "other firearm" when transferred on a 4473 and have created either a handgun or a rifle from that "other firearm." Now, I am actually creating or modifying an actual firearm.... to do so as a course of business does require an FFL.

Owen
February 5, 2011, 06:32 PM
and the ATF can be capricious when they feel like it.

FFL's aren't particularly expensive. why risk it?

NavyLCDR
February 5, 2011, 07:06 PM
and the ATF can be capricious when they feel like it.

FFL's aren't particularly expensive. why risk it?

Why invite government regulation into something that isn't regulated? That would be like parents getting a daycare license to raise their own kids.

General Geoff
February 5, 2011, 07:18 PM
That would be like parents getting a daycare license to raise their own kids.

It was not that long ago that some parents got into legal hot water because they were routinely looking after other folks' children in the neighborhood along with their own, while the other kids' parents were at work or whatever. They were charged with operating an unlicensed day care facility.

Stupid, yes. But this is the end result of a litigation-heavy society.

Balrog
February 7, 2011, 09:28 AM
Does anyone know why the FAL upper is considered the firearm, but on an AR, it is the lower that is considered the firearm???

TexasRifleman
February 7, 2011, 03:30 PM
Does anyone know why the FAL upper is considered the firearm, but on an AR, it is the lower that is considered the firearm???

Because ATF said so. And no I'm not trying to be funny. Tech Branch decides which piece is the "firearm". I am sure there's a document somewhere that describes their process for making that decision but at the end of the day ATF gets to decide.

Balrog
February 7, 2011, 06:56 PM
Because ATF said so.

Well that is what I figured, I just wondered if there was any logic to it.

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