Lower "class" legal?


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Gordon
January 2, 2013, 11:20 PM
OK, a couple younger engineers showed me beautiful billeted unmarked AR lowers they "made".Seems there is a "class" where you buy a type 3 anodized billet 'slug' for say $120 and then for $60 extra they give you a 1/2 hour 'class' in how to position the slug in a million dollar CNC machine by showing you. You then push the button where the machine perfectly drills the pin holes and machines out the trigger housing and magazine well. You can leave the magazine well un opened or they will sell you a bullet button for California. Apparently you are allowed to buyonly one blank and take the class once per person.
Is this legal Federally? I am checking california laws now.

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CharlieBT
January 2, 2013, 11:31 PM
Problematic, IMHO, and too risky for my taste. Felony vs. Another $120 on GB? No thanks. JMO.

Gordon
January 2, 2013, 11:32 PM
These lowers were gorgeous and I want legal FACTS quoted please !
The engineers told me you are allowed to hobby build a title 1 firearm for your own use without any ATF forms. It must be State compliant tho.

ugaarguy
January 2, 2013, 11:36 PM
It's perfectly legal under federal law to manufacture non-NFA firearms for personal use with no paperwork. On NFA firearms you have to complete the ATF Form 1 - Application to make and register a firearm - first, get the tax stamp, then you can make the NFA item. You also have to engrave the receiver with your name as it appears on the Form 1 (and a serial number of your choosing as it appears on the Form 1 as well, IIRC).

See question #6, answer #7 here - http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/manufacturers.html

An individual acquires frames or receivers and assembles firearms for his personal use, not for sale or distribution.

The individual is not manufacturing firearms for sale or distribution and is not required to be a licensed manufacturer.

ETA, one more ATF link - http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/firearms-technology.html#commercial-parts-assembly

BemidjiDweller
January 2, 2013, 11:41 PM
Check out http://aresarmor.com/ They have links on their site to all the BATFE and statute stuff.

Frank Ettin
January 3, 2013, 12:00 AM
It's my understanding that to legally build a personal firearm on a partially finished frame (which if finished would be the firearm under federal law) a person must do all the work himself. If he subcontracts any of the work, the other person is the "manufacturer", and the finished frame would need to be transferred in accordance with the usual formalities.

The open question is whether the "instructor" who "teaches" you how to put the unfinished part in the machine by putting your unfinished part in the machine takes things out of the "doing all the work yourself" category. Personally, unless there's an appellate court decision to the contrary, I'm inclined to think that a judge would rule that way.

While I can't say for certain, I can say that I would rather be arguing the prosecution side of the question than the defense here. And maybe if I spent a couple of hours doing the research I could come up with a better answer. But I have to say that I don't have enough interest in the question to put the time in right now.

Gordon
January 3, 2013, 01:08 AM
Apparently NO work is done until the student pushes the CNC start button , and yes he is taught to be in control of the mill during the machine work. These billeted lowers were class acts BTW with better finish and externally very beefy and nicely finished as I've ever seen.

gbw
January 3, 2013, 01:20 AM
Look, you want legal precedents and I don't have one either.

But the 'work' in using CNC mills is teh setup and programming.

It's a real stretch to say clamping a blank and pushing the 'start' button is performing the work, as Mr. Ettin described. Maybe you'll get away with it, not worth the risk. Freshly machined aluminum is always pretty, btw.

medalguy
January 3, 2013, 10:37 AM
Too much risk for me, and for what? To have a lower that's not papered? Buy one from a buddy or on a local forum in a FTF if it's that important to you. To have a lower that's capable of fully automatic fire? Is that worth a vacation in Club Fed? I hardly think so.

klyph
January 3, 2013, 11:22 AM
Too much risk for me, and for what? To have a lower that's not papered? Buy one from a buddy or on a local forum in a FTF if it's that important to you. To have a lower that's capable of fully automatic fire? Is that worth a vacation in Club Fed? I hardly think so.
There is no risk in manufacturing your own firearms. I don't know what "papered" means but none of my commercially manufactured firearms are "papered". They have serial numbers, which you can add to your personally made firearm if you choose. These lowers do not have the auto sear pin drilled and are not capable of fully automatic fire. They are AR-15 lowers, not M16s.

The open question is whether the "instructor" who "teaches" you how to put the unfinished part in the machine by putting your unfinished part in the machine takes things out of the "doing all the work yourself" category. Personally, unless there's an appellate court decision to the contrary, I'm inclined to think that a judge would rule that way.

The student loads, unloads, and operates the machinery.

But the 'work' in using CNC mills is teh setup and programming.

It's a real stretch to say clamping a blank and pushing the 'start' button is performing the work, as Mr. Ettin described. Maybe you'll get away with it, not worth the risk. Freshly machined aluminum is always pretty, btw.

By that logic, if I borrow my friends riveting jigs and rivet gun that is configured specifically for assembling AKMs, I am not doing the work, since whoever setup these tools did all the work for me. The cnc is a tool, in this case configured for a very specific task. The fact that, once configured, the tool is extremely easy to operate does not change the dynamic of tool and operator.

Frank Ettin
January 3, 2013, 12:44 PM
...By that logic,...It's not a question of "logic" in a vacuum. It's a question of how a judge is likely to rule.

Without some clear guidance from good legal authority, it's pretty much a "roll of the dice." Depending on the exact circumstances, and without clear authority one way or another, I can conceive of a judge ruling either way. If there is some good authority out there, someone might want to try to find it. I don't know of any, and I'm not planning to spend the time on the research.

hermannr
January 3, 2013, 12:47 PM
IMHO: As I read the law, the problem comes when you are building these for resale, or you have someone else build or partly build for you.

A CNC is a tool as has been stated. Just because someone else programmed you computer, does that mean you are not doing the work when you build an Exel file?

It is legal to brew your own craft beer...but it is not legal to sell it. So, if I allow someone (by rent or loan) to use my computer controlled brewing equipment, am I doing the brewing and selling an illegal product? I don't think so. I may have built the tool, I may have programmed the tool...but the user is doing the brewing.

klyph
January 3, 2013, 05:35 PM
Unless something is prohibited by law, it is legal. There are no laws that prohibit manufacturing your own firearms for your personal use so long as they are title 1 under the NFA and meet 922r if using imported parts. What is being suggested is that a CNC crosses some legal boundary of the definition of an individual who manufactures, produces or imports for personal use under 27 cfr 53.112(b). Does operating someone else's equipment mean that they are participating in the manufacturing? If so all firearms built with borrowed tools are not exempt. Does the fact that the owner of the tools demonstrated the proper use of said tool mean that he participated in the manufacturing? If so anyone who uses a borrowed tool that the owner demonstrated prior to manufacturing the firearm is not exempt.
Thousands of firearms have been manufactured in such a manner. Build party's where experienced individuals lend their tools and expertise so that others may manufacture personal use firearms. Cnc rentals and classes such as the example given. A judge could certainly rule that these are illegal, making countless thousands of existing arms illegal, but to my knowledge, none have. If we are to make our decisions to avoid what may be ruled illegal in the future, then all those that bought "assault weapons" recently are foolish indeed.

bdgackle
January 3, 2013, 05:55 PM
I've wondered the same thing. I'd been looking for a couple extra lowers to stick in the safe, and looked at this route (turns out, they are as out of stock as everyone). I'd probably go the drill press and jig route, but only because it sounds like fun.

IANAL, but I'd feel pretty comfortable doing this. These businesses are all out in the open, and seem to stay in contact with the ATF. There is nothing clandestine going on here. That is never perfect protection where the ATF is concerned, but it does suggest a mitigation of risk.

Also, unless the ATF decides to suddenly change their policy and stage a raid mid "class" (which seems pretty unlikely, given that its been going on in the open for years), how would they ever prove in court how your reciever got machined? Once you walk out of that machine shop, you are holding a home-machined AR that is indestinguishable from all the other less "questionable" examples of same. Even if they do change their rules retroactively, this process just doesn't seem to leave much evidence they could use to prosecute someone.

JAshley73
January 3, 2013, 11:49 PM
But the 'work' in using CNC mills is teh setup and programming.


I am not a lawyer, but I am a highly skilled CNC machinist by trade. You are absolutely correct in that a lot of the work in producing parts using CNC machinery comes from the setup and programming. But to say that operating them - as in loading parts and pressing the buttons - is not actual work, would be completely false. There are hundreds of thousands of machine operators in this country being paid, and students in school learning to do exactly that. If that is the extent of the argument questioning weather such a method to produce one's "individual made" firearms receivers (can't really say home-made can we? ;) ) is legal or not, then there's not much argument... It doesn't take long to realize that loading the parts and 'pressing buttons' to operate the machines is indeed work of its own...

But again, I am not a lawyer...

TexasGlock23
January 4, 2013, 04:52 AM
For what it's worth, I bought a nice billet lower for $179 shipped 3 weeks ago, many companies are not price gouging, you just need to be patient and wait for your order to fill, or overpay.

guyfromohio
January 4, 2013, 06:06 AM
I don't remember the last time I was asked for papers, serial numbers, receipts, etc....

Victor1Echo
January 5, 2013, 01:09 PM
Gordon,

Check it out on Calguns. There are many parties where people get together share their knowledge and tools--for a price. People do this for many reasons, but mostly to avoid having to go thru an ffl and all it entails. Especially the paranoid ones-and god bless em! I hope to find myself at one of these school sessions.

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