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Plum Crazy lowers - illegal?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by ngnrd, Mar 31, 2014.

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  1. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    Can anybody confirm or refute The Firearm Blog's assertion that Plum Crazy lowers have been found by the ATF to be illegal? I'm sure there are a bunch of them out there that were purchased in good faith. This could be a big problem for a bunch of folks...

    Also... would New Frontier lowers have the same issue?

    Here's a quote from the article:
    And here's a link:
    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/03/30/plumcrazy-polymer-lowers-illegal-letter-batfe/
     
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    It seems clear from the discussion there that there is no way to know whether the BATFE would consider other lowers legal or illegal without submitting a sample and requesting a determination, as was done with the PlumCrazy lower.

    A private letter answering that question for one lower does not make for a blanket determination for all lowers, or even all similar lowers.

    IF the BATFE really decides to declare all PC lowers, or any similar lowers, to be non-compliant with the marking requirements of the law, they'll undoubtedly get the sales records from the manufacturers and contact the purchasers to forfeit them.

    Until, AND UNLESS (which is pretty unlikely, really) they do? This isn't an actionable worry. It isn't like you would, or could, be arrested with an illegal gun, because of this private letter to one person (even if partially released on one website on the internet).
     
  3. Grassman

    Grassman Member

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    If you are up to no good, scratching out serial numbers can be done quickly on any gun, polymer, aluminum or steel.
     
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Of course, though scratching or grinding out serial numbers doesn't really remove them from metal guns as a forensic lab can recover them due to internal displacement and stresses in the metal.

    In this case, there is apparently a way of installing a metal serial number plate in a polymer-framed gun that the ATF has approved. That method is what Glock, S&W, and all the other manufacturers who sell polymer-framed guns are using. According to the ATF, if you bust out that metal part, the gun will be likely too damaged to work.

    Who knows if that's true, but that appears to be their criteria for approval.

    The PC lower had a serial number etched on a piece of sheet metal which was very easily scraped out of the receiver (less than a minute, using a hammer and screwdriver) and that doesn't pass the ATF's scrutiny.

    So, that's the WHY of it.

    Now, whether that has anything to do with New Frontier's lowers, or anyone's but PC's, only the BATFE can say, and until someone sends a formal request, or they make some kind of public declaration, no one can know.
     
  5. wally

    wally Member

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    I'd have a hard time believing that if a criminal drilled out the serial number (all the way through) on an Aluminum lower (generally towards the bottom of the magwell) that it'd be in anyway recoverable or have any noticeable effect on the guns function.

    Looking at my Kahr frame with the broken front rail (which still seems to function as I only noticed it upon cleaning) I'd also bet the gun would still function if you drilled out the serial numbers on the metal insert. A criminal rarely needs it to work for more than a magazine or two.

    Maybe there are "secret" serial numbers under the anodizing or embedded in the polymer. but we all know how good people are at keeping secrets, the Gov in particular.

    When I inquired about how do you "engrave" the frame on a Glock when I was considering "manufacturing" an SBR from a Glock 17 with a Roni stock I was told you just engrave the plastic, usually on the sides of dust cover. Maybe someone in the NFA forum knows for sure, but I didn't pursue it.
     
  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Yup. But they make these determinations and their rule is law ... or how the law is enforced, anyway.

    As ARES and EP are showing us, not doing things the way they say you must -- or not asking how they want it done, to begin with -- opens a large can of pain.
     
  7. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    All that was posted was a single paragraph from an ATF letter. We don't know if it is about a production lower or a prototype. Or even if it's about a plum crazy lower. In fact the section of text doesn't even say it's about an AR15. I doubt the ATF would be shy if they had determined these guns to be illegal.
     
  8. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    Or as CAV arms showed us if the ATF changes their mind after several years.
     
  9. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    There was a pistol being sold with the lockwork as an interchangeable insert to fit whatever grip length desired, with the barrel and slide of choice to top it off. Kind of a kit gun to build a longslide to CCW compact. The lockwork insert had the serial number on it which appeared in a window of the slide.

    SIG? Haven't heard much about it lately, could be the BATF likes the lockwork to remain fixed to the lower inseparably from their perspective.

    Is YOUR Plum Crazy Lower illegal? It's going to be interesting to see how compliance is enforced. It is another chapter in their continuing focus on polymer rifle receivers. Is that because there is a backlash by the administration to poison public interest in them or their potentially 3D printed versions, I don't know. I could very well simply be that the polymer lower makers are taking advantage of the material in a way that metal receiver makers cannot - and the BATF is leveling the playing field to enforce that if it's good for one, then it's good for all.

    Goes to having that lockwork insert with the number on it. Other polymer pistols have it on the lower as a reinforcement for the frame and part of the barrel lug engagement. Removing it would destroy them.

    A metal strip easily punched out of the lower doesn't. If it doesn't destroy it, I can see from their view it might not be compliant. I can also see that somebody wasn't doing their homework and the Plum Crazy lowers didn't get fully vetted by the maker and the BATF in the first place.

    Blaming someone won't fix the problem, tho. It's about compliance now that an interpretation is in print. One answer might be to interpret them as all falling under the NFA, with a amnesty period to register them.

    Makes life interesting.
     
  10. 4thPointOfContact

    4thPointOfContact Member

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    gG8kR6o.jpg
    Digging out that little piece of metal the serial number is stamped on isn't going to suddenly make that Glock inoperable. However it will 'significantly damage or destroy the firearm' by tearing out two little chunks of the frame.

    PlumCrazy's problem was that the sheet metal serial number plate was only affixed to the frame with adhesives and no mechanical bonding. The Glock, has the two tabs that extend into the polymer frame and make a mechanical bond.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  11. 4thPointOfContact

    4thPointOfContact Member

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    Sig-P250-modularity.jpg
    Sig P250 with two different sized frames and the serial-numbered sub-assembly the BATF agreed was the "firearm" part of the system.
     
  12. UpperAtmosphere

    UpperAtmosphere Member

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    Hey, that wraps up a discussion I was having with someone yesterday about what part of the P250 is 'The Gun' as far as the ATF is concerned. I figured it was the trigger assembly. Nice!
     
  13. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    I understand that a determination for one doesn't affect all, Sam. I guess I was asking whether the NF lowers used the same type of "removable" serial number plates that PC used.

    And, for the record, I think this whole thing is absurd. Anybody with a hammer, a screwdriver, and a couple of minutes of free time could "remove" the serial number from just about any firearm and still leave it fully functional. It's beginning to feel like the ATF has something against polymer lowers in particular... and it all seems just a bit chilling to me. :scrutiny:
     
  14. atomd

    atomd Member

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    It might be today It might not be today. It might be today, it might not be in 2015. It might not even have been ever.

    Really, that is what we are working with here. Not joking.
     
  15. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    I know for a fact that not all of Plum Crazy's lower went out like that. That was a very early version.

    I held an early version that had the SN like that.

    I also know that Plumcrazy officially changed their name and logo within about 1 yr of the 1st proto type and before any substantial #'s were produced.

    I do (did) know Ed personally. I haven't spoken to him is a few years though.
     
  16. writerinmo

    writerinmo Member

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    I have three builds with New Frontier lowers. Their serial number plate is cast into the lower, then the polymer is milled away in an area for the number to be engraved into it. Looks like it may extend clear up and around the hole for the safety and at least 1/8" to either side of the area that is milled away. The bottom of the plate is also staked with the polymer at two points.
     
  17. elephant_man

    elephant_man Member

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    I wonder if the ATF is actually going to make us turn them in. I know it's illegal to deface a serial number and for a manufacturer to sell without a serial, but I can't think of any laws that are actively being broken by owning these lowers.
     
  18. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Not quite true.

    EP Armory was making a certain polymer lower that THEY believed was legal...or at least that they claimed was legal.

    Howver, EP Armory doesn't get to make that determination on this. People can argue this until they're blue in the face, but that won't change this fact.

    Please don't construe what I say here to be in support of the ATF on any given firearms restriction(s), however. I'm not arguing that, only that the ATF ultimately makes this determination, not the manufacturer.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2014
  19. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    :) Well, thanks for the kind words.

    I'll agree that one of us isn't fully versed on the issues. I'll leave it to others to decide which one that might be. ;)

    I don't know that there's any value in rehashing this discussion in yet another thread, but "legally" is in the eye of the beholder ... and the beholder is the BATFE. They may prove to have been made legally, they may not. Neither you, nor I, get to say which.

    If you'd like to understand better what you're talking about, we went through the issue pretty extensively (almost 300 posts worth) over here: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=746953 I'm sure that once you get through that whole discussion you'll be much better equipped to discuss the matter.

    I'm not sure if perhaps you've got me confused with someone else, but you appear to be attempting to attack my dedication to the RKBA cause. Mistaking my understanding of the BATFE and gun laws with some perceived approval of them -- even the very existence of either the BATFE OR any gun control laws whatsoever -- shows you to be in grave error.

    But you're new here and I can understand why you might not have comprehended the difference.

    Welcome to the forum! There's a lot to learn. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  20. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    If a firearm was manufactured illegally, wouldn't possession of that illegally manufactured firearm also be illegal? What makes you think that the ATF would simply ignore the fact that there are a bunch of illegally manufactured firearms floating around out there?
     
  21. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    Theoretically an ar lower could be whittled from a wooden block, which honestly sounds very interesting. So...the sawmill is now in the business of selling unfinished lowers!!! $4 a truckload.
     
  22. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Ok. Relevant to this question how?
     
  23. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    Well, since I posted the link, I have to say the article has been updated with a response from David Famiglietti from New Frontier Arms. His response seems valid, and I haven't actually been able to find anything from the ATF on the matter. So... this may have all been a false conclusion based on assumptions, speculation, and old information.

    Still... If anybody hears anything else about it, feel free to post a link.
     
  24. elephant_man

    elephant_man Member

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    No idea, but the 1968 GCA states a manufacturer requires a serial number and receiving a firearm whose serial has been "removed, obliterated, or altered" is illegal and nothing beyond that I could find that was relevant.
     
  25. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    The law requires a serial number be applied, but the exact details of what that serial number must look like are left up to the BATFE.

    Section 932(i) says...

    This is one of the many areas where laws -- about all sorts of things, not just guns --are written to say that something must, or must not, happen but the specifications of precisely what that means aren't written into the text of the law. This is because law makers are not technicians about all these different subjects and can't possibly write out a technical specification for every possible case their law covers.
     
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