Question about ATF ruling 2011-4


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Trent
September 12, 2012, 02:02 AM
OK.. This:

http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/rulings/atf-rulings/atf-ruling-2011-4.pdf

How does this apply to AR-15 lowers? (If at all)

The wording in this is confusing. It appears that if you have an AR-15 lower designed to be built in to a pistol, that you can convert it to a rifle (as long as it's legal length), and back in to a pistol again.

But you can't do it if it's built as a rifle first, and later turned in to a pistol.

What gives?

I have 10 unassembled AR-15 lowers, which were sold as stripped receivers, none have been BUILT in to ANYTHING yet. Can I designate one or more as a "pistol" and build them as pistols?

If it matters (and I'm SURE it probably WILL matter, but I need to ask), on my bound books, turned in to the BATF October 2009, all lowers I had were listed as "RIFLE".

But they hadn't been built yet.

Can I send a letter to the ATF asking for a reclassification PRIOR TO FINAL ASSEMBLY?

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Bubbles
September 12, 2012, 09:07 AM
If it matters (and I'm SURE it probably WILL matter, but I need to ask), on my bound books, turned in to the BATF October 2009, all lowers I had were listed as "RIFLE".
Why? They should have been logged in as receivers.

Did you mark them as "Long Gun" or "Other" on the 4473 to yourself?

Were you licensed as an 01 or an 07?

Sam1911
September 12, 2012, 10:04 AM
The wording in this is confusing. It appears that if you have an AR-15 lower designed to be built in to a pistol, that you can convert it to a rifle (as long as it's legal length), and back in to a pistol again.

But you can't do it if it's built as a rifle first, and later turned in to a pistol.

What gives?


Well, remember that the NFA actually says that a concealable firearm "made from a rifle" is a Title II item and must be registered. (And pay the $200, CLEO signoff, background check, and wait 6 months, etc.)

For many years the ATF said that once you made any gun into a rifle it was from that point on A RIFLE and anything you did with it after that -- including "de-converting" your Glock or 1911 that you'd mounted in one of those "Mech-Tech" carbine kits or making your T/C Contender back into a pistol -- was creating an unregistered Title II firearm!

This latest ruling removes that absurd and frustrating (but technically absolutely correct, per the wording of the NFA!) interpretation.

So, as long as you start from a pistol, you can go back and forth at will. If you're starting with a rifle, they just don't feel they can bend their interpretation that far away from the strict wording of the law, so it will have to be registered.

To be safe, a bare receiver should always be built into a pistol first, but if we're talking about an AR, as long as you install the shoulder stock on the buffer tube last, that's kind of inevitable.

dogtown tom
September 12, 2012, 11:17 AM
Trent ...If it matters (and I'm SURE it probably WILL matter, but I need to ask), on my bound books, turned in to the BATF October 2009, all lowers I had were listed as "RIFLE".
"Lowers", frames and receivers have NEVER been rifles, shotguns or handguns..,, just firearms. The definition of a handgun, rifle or shotgun have been codified for decades and a lower, frame or receiver does not meet those definitions.

ATF issued several documents in August 2008 that further explained how AR lowers were to be recorded in your bound book.....and issued a new version of the 4473 to show "Other firearm" as an alternative to "long gun and handgun.

Did you not read the instructions on the 4473? It explains it clearly.

MtnCreek
September 12, 2012, 12:04 PM
Question one how it affects the receivers. The receivers were improperly filed as long guns on the 4473. In theory, no one will likely ever look at the 4473 that was surrendered with the license (if that even makes a difference). Would these receivers be considered as long guns now or are they still receivers?

Thanks!

Trent
September 12, 2012, 02:40 PM
These were in inventory at the time of the closure of business, and per ATF guidance, marked "to personal" on the bound books.

There was no 4473. Per ATF FAQ:

Does a dealer have to execute ATF Form 4473 to take a weapon out of the dealer’s inventory for his or her own use?

No. However, the “bound book” must reflect the disposition of the firearm from business inventory to personal use.

So there hasn't BEEN a 4473 ever recorded on these "firearms".

Bubbles
September 12, 2012, 02:42 PM
So you were a sole proprietor? For an LLC it's different - we have to run 4473's on our selves b/c we're not FFL's, the LLC holds the FFL.

Trent
September 12, 2012, 02:45 PM
"ATF issued several documents in August 2008"

These were receipted on the bound books prior to that date, and recorded as "RIFLE". I made a (very large) purchase of receivers before the '08 elections, and I had 30 remaining at close of business. 15 of those were sold to the Illinois State Police, 4 were sold to friends, and I still have 11 for personal builds. (One has been built to a 300 AAC Blackout, 9 are built BUT DO NOT have stocks mounted yet, 1 is still stripped.)

Pic of current build state (they're sitting on my kitchen table right now..)

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/329950_457238664307069_1372091211_o.jpg

Trent
September 12, 2012, 02:47 PM
So you were a sole proprietor? For an LLC it's different - we have to run 4473's on our selves b/c we're not FFL's, the LLC holds the FFL.

Yes by state law, I had to call a background check in on myself to the state police and record the approval # each time I transferred a weapon to personal use (and pay the $2 fee), but I didn't have to do a 4473.

Zoogster
September 12, 2012, 03:04 PM
by state law, I had to call a background check in on myself to the state police

If there was any delay in approval would you have had to hold on to it longer before transferring it to yourself? :neener:





The law is actually something we went over many times on the board, well before the ATF changed the policy.
It stems from the Thompson case that was being misrepresented by the ATF that did not like what that case's decision meant, and so were reinterpreting it to apply to just that specific gun and in essence declaring victory even though they lost.
When that is never how a Supreme Court decision works.

The fixed that situation.
They also now include the extra category for receivers on the 4473.

Since your guns were transferred to yourself as 'rifle' on paper, I would be leery of using them in builds for things other than a rifle.
It maybe legal, but I would want to use receivers that were never declared rifles on any paperwork.
That little difference could certainly sway a jury that is trying to make sense of all the confusion about laws they probably know little about.

So really you should have probably transferred them as something else to yourself.

dogtown tom
September 12, 2012, 03:05 PM
Whether they were listed in your bound book as "rifle" has no bearing on what they actually are........they're "receivers" plain and simple. They would properly be recorded in your bound book as "Other".

On a Form 4473 they would be checked as an "Other Firearm" on Que. 18 and listed as a "Receiver" on Que. 29

A receiver does not become a rifle until it has BOTH shoulder stock AND a barrel attached. A "complete" lower with buttstock is still an "other firearm" as it is not a handgun or a long gun.

Trent
September 12, 2012, 03:14 PM
So, I can build these in to pistols if I choose? Which can then later be converted to rifles and back again?

(I understand if I build them as rifles to begin with, I cannot later convert them to pistols)

Sam1911
September 12, 2012, 03:20 PM
I would say yes. They've never been anything yet, besides "firearms."

dogtown tom
September 12, 2012, 03:24 PM
Trent So, I can build these in to pistols if I choose? Which can then later be converted to rifles and back again?
Yes and yes.

Trent
September 12, 2012, 03:44 PM
SBR's are also legal in IL effective Jan 1st for C&R holders (which I have).

If I build these as pistols, can I also file the form, have chief LEO sign off, pay the $200 manufacturing tax, and convert to & from pistol to SBR on the same receiver?

Jim K
September 12, 2012, 11:46 PM
Trent used the term "stripped receivers" which means to me that they were receivers taken from firearms, not new receivers that had never been assembled into any firearm.

A "stripped receiver" taken from a firearm retains the identity of that firearm. If I buy a receiver that was taken from a rifle, it remains a rifle; if it was taken from a pistol, it remains a pistol.

Trent also wrote: "So, I can build these in to pistols if I choose? Which can then later be converted to rifles and back again?"

No, Tom is wrong. There is no "back again". Once they are assembled as rifles, they can't (legally) be made into pistols.

In the case of new, never used receivers (lowers), the sales slip and bound book should show "other" with the note "new receiver" to clarify. BATFE is saying that the determination of type takes place when the receiver is first assembled. If it is assembled as a rifle, it is a rifle and will always be a rifle. If it is a pistol, it will then always be a pistol.

It is legal to make a pistol into a rifle. But the LAW, not BATFE, says it is illegal to make a rifle into a pistol. So if you decide to make a riflle, fine, but you can't (legally) change your mind later and convert that rifle into a pistol. You can make a rifle into an short-barrel rifle (SBR) by paying the tax and doing the paperwork. You can convert a pistol into an SBR the same way. Again, though, you can't go back. An SBR is a rifle and you can't (legally) convert it to a pistol.

So what about shoulder stock pistols? BATFE has used its authority to rule that shoulder stock pistols that, as pistols, meet the C&R criteria, are removed from the NFA (are no longer SBR's) and are designated only as C&R IF the shoulder stock is original to the gun. Shoulder stock pistols that are not C&R are subject to the NFA, but are treated as a special case since the stock is readily removed. Since they are registered, there is no problem in BATFE's view. Simply removing the stock does not "unregister" the gun or convert it into a category that does not require registration.

Jim

Jim K
September 12, 2012, 11:59 PM
Deleted.

dogtown tom
September 13, 2012, 12:07 AM
Jim K Trent used the term "stripped receivers" which means to me that they were receivers taken from firearms, not new receivers that had never been assembled into any firearm.
It is common in the industry to refer to new bare AR lower receivers as "stripped"...ie never having had parts installed, as opposed to "complete" lowers that have a parts kit installed.



A "stripped receiver" taken from a firearm retains the identity of that firearm. If I buy a receiver that was taken from a rifle, it remains a rifle; if it was taken from a pistol, it remains a pistol.
ATF disagrees.



Trent also wrote: "So, I can build these in to pistols if I choose? Which can then later be converted to rifles and back again?"

No, Tom is wrong. There is no "back again". Once they are assembled as rifles, they can't (legally) be made into pistols.
No sir, YOU are wrong. This has been posted numerous times on this and nearly every other gun forum for over a year....its "old news" ;)
http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/rulings/atf-rulings/atf-ruling-2011-4.pdf




In the case of new, never used receivers (lowers), the sales slip and bound book should show "other" with the note "new receiver" to clarify. BATFE is saying that the determination of type takes place when the receiver is first assembled. If it is assembled as a rifle, it is a rifle and will always be a rifle. If it is a pistol, it will then always be a pistol.
Nope....read the link.

Trent
September 13, 2012, 12:14 AM
Jim K - the conventional wisdom (prior to 2011-04 ruling) was that once a pistol, always a pistol, once a rifle, always a rifle.

The ATF changed that (in great part, due to a court case where they LOST).

There's some language in the NFA which was interpreted by the courts to mean that a pistol CAN become a rifle, SO LONG as the rifle meets the 16" barrel criteria. It can go back again, afterwards.

However, a RIFLE, cannot be made a PISTOL, because in doing so it would make it an SBR. "Once a rifle, always a rifle" still applies.

"Once a pistol, always a pistol" not the case anymore.

If I build the AR's as pistols, according to the new ruling, I can at any time convert them to rifles, SO LONG AS I do not at any point make them in to a prohibited weapon. E.g. once the shoulder stock is mounted, I can't re-mount the shorty upper. But if I take the shoulder stock back off and run it "tube only", then I can put the shorty upper back on.

At least, that's the interpretation I gathered - and doing more research (along with Dogtown Tom's comments) it is pretty clear that's what the 2011-4 ruling means.

Sam1911
September 13, 2012, 07:01 AM
Yes, Trent and dogtown tom both have the exact reading of the ATF ruling.

It still boggles my mind, but in this case the ATF bent ("interpreted") the NFA in such a way as to actually benefit US! (Or, more probably, to recognize that they just weren't going to be able to enforce the existing understanding of the law.)

Trent
September 13, 2012, 10:53 AM
Sam1911 - not everyone at the ATF are "bad guys".

Over time, and observation, I've pretty much figured out there are two "camps" there. And over time, the tide between those camps shift back and forth.

The federal court ruling that resulted in the 2011-4 statement was pretty critical of the BATF - they fought it tooth and nail, and lost. Thompson Contender handed them their butts in a sling, and redefined how pistols and rifles relate.

The court ruling is kind of fascinating to read, I don't have a link to it off hand, but it is worthy of the research, as it gives the "backstory behind the backpeddling"

Sam1911
September 13, 2012, 10:59 AM
Thompson Contender handed them their butts in a sling, Yup.and redefined how pistols and rifles relate.Twenty-one years later! :)

Trent
September 13, 2012, 11:10 AM
Speaking of, who has oversight of the ATF?

I mean, who is responsible for keeping the organization in check?

With their history in the interval from the "Texas Event" back in the 90's, all the way up to the "fast and furious", etc, etc.. it would seem that someone should put the monkeys back in the cage.

Sam1911
September 13, 2012, 11:12 AM
Well, that would be the President most directly (head of the Executive brancy) but more realistically, your Congressmen. FOPA '86 did put some of the monkeys back in their cage, and that was the main point of the legislation (though most people forget that due to other..."issues" with that law).

Trent
September 13, 2012, 11:14 AM
So, to "fix" the ATF, you'd need a public Act?

Ugh. Bandaids on top of bandaids on top of bandaids...

Sam1911
September 13, 2012, 11:18 AM
No! You just need a President to give them better marching orders, to appoint a Director who reads the Constitution more carefully, and (to be honest) repeal of some of the dumb-as-a-box-of-hair federal laws they have to try to enforce.

MtnCreek
September 13, 2012, 11:19 AM
not everyone at the ATF are "bad guys".
Sorry for being off topic, but I just thought it was worth mentioning your statement is very true. I guess it’s similar to reviews on customer service, you typically only hear about the bad guys… I know a guy that has served and continues to serve his country here and abroad and also carries an AFT badge. He doesn’t make the rules and he’s treated me well, so I separate him from the political class at the upper end of Justice/BATFE.

Carl N. Brown
September 13, 2012, 11:56 AM
As I understand it, lower receivers are bought on the 4473 as not as a "long gun" but as an "Other" category subject to the 21-year age limit same as handgun or a PGO shotgun.

Converting a Title I long gun to a handgun is a no-no, because it becomes a Title II SBR or SBS, requiring an approved Form 1. The intent of Congress being to prevent evasion of handgun regulation by sawing off less regulated rifles or shotguns to make concealable weapons.

However, it has been OK to convert a handgun to a long gun by replacing the barrel with a 16" rifle or 18" shotgun barrel and adding a shoulder stock.

Since a firearm legally bought and owned as a handgun is not an attempt to evade handgun regulations, converting it from rifle configuration back to a handgun should not be counted as a violation. Letter 2011-4 signed 25 Jun by ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melton 25 Jul 2011 appears to support that.

What would be violations (without a Form I) are:
A. pistol version with shoulder stock and short barrel attached, or with shoulder stock available w/o long barrel or
B. rifle with short barrel attached, or with short barrel available w/o pistol grip.

What is interesting is the idea that since a lower is sold as "Other" firearm, the lower could be configured as a rifle or pistol, and switched, as long as a Title I rifle or pistol is created, and not a Title II stocked pistol or short barrel rifle. I want to see how this plays out over time.

Trent
September 13, 2012, 12:04 PM
Since these have never hit a 4473, do you recommend I bounce them through a local FFL to classify them as "Other" on paper somewhere, before proceeding?

Sam1911
September 13, 2012, 12:33 PM
Nope. I don't think there'd be any benefit to that, nor detriment in NOT doing it.

(IMHO, as they say.) All an FFL taking them in would be saying is "at this one point in time these were bare receivers." Heck, you've got pictures that prove as much.

Trent
September 13, 2012, 12:41 PM
Not only that, but I have an IL State trooper who can confirm they were bare receivers. (They bought a bunch of them off me, and have been to my house, and seen "my gun cave")

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