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Shipping "parts" via USPS

Discussion in 'Legal' started by carnaby, Jun 13, 2007.

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  1. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    I'm having an interesting discussion with one of my AR-15 parts sources who also does firearm refinishing. Here's what he has to say about sending individual parts via USPS (short version, no problem):

    What's the consensus here? Sound good or sound bad? :confused:
     
  2. waterhouse

    waterhouse Member

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    It sounds interesting.

    It has always been my understanding that stripped lower receivers must only be shipped to an FFL, because the ATF considers it a firearm. I also don't think taking a completed upper and lower receiver and pinning them together is what the ATF has in mind when they talk about "manufacturing" a firearm. I could be wrong though. I thought they were referring to actually making a receiver and putting a serial number on it. If not, then a bunch of guys putting AR-15s together in their garages would need manufacturing licenses.

    I'd like to see something in writing from the ATF concerning this. Breaking UPS or Fedex policy is just that . . . policy. Breaking USPS policy might land you in some trouble. I'd get something in writing before you start shipping pistol "receiver" parts through the mail. Stripped Ar-15 lowers should be fine through the mail, as they don't tend to be viewed as pistols.
     
  3. TX1911fan

    TX1911fan Member

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    Sounds wrong to me. AR lowers have to be shipped to an FFL, not directly to the customer. Likewise, claiming "parts" for insurance purposes with a shipper may cause problems if you need to make a claim.
     
  4. Amish_Bill

    Amish_Bill Member

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    You're confusing two different things here. You're mixing the tax law (11% excise tax on "complete" firearms) and the law on transfer/shipping. The two have NOTHING to do with each other beyond both being focused on firearms.

    In the context of tax obligations, an incomplete firearms is just parts.

    In the context of posession, the serial numbered part IS a firearm no matter what is with it.

    In the context of shipping, well... Hmmm.... Someone will have to dig through the Definitions section governing that portion of the US code.
     
  5. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

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    Would you likely 'get away with it', sure. Until someone who knows what he or she is looking at opens the box and gets unhappy about the receiver that was being shipped that constituted a firearm and was not declared as such to the shipper. Boxes do get opened by the shipper, and by shipping with them your are expressly allowing them to do so. Would they call the ATF or another agency? That would depend I suppose. If the shippment got lost, you'd never really be able to file a claim for compensation either.

    Lots of things get shipped everyday via Fed Ex or a similar carrier that shouldn't be shipped. I personally wouldn't chance it when there's no need. Everything but the receiver--as far as I know,that's just fine. But that receiver is a firearm legally.
     
  6. DragonFire

    DragonFire Member

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    I too have always heard that the lower had to be shipped to an FFL.

    From a shipper's point of view, I think your AR source is right. Neither a lower nor an upper, by itself is a firearm, so a shipper who has a policy against shipping firearms should not have a problem with either part. On the other hand, as a company, than can define a firearm any way they want, so they could deem the frame as the firearm if they wanted to (or any other part, I guess).

    But that's as far as that goes. If you shipped both parts in the same package, even though disassembled, you would/could have problems.

    If you disassemble your handgun completely, and ship each piece separately, UPS (or whomever) shouldn't have a problem with any one package, but BATF certainly will look at it that you shipped a complete gun to someone.
     
  7. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

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    Federal law REQUIRES you to tell any common carrier that you are shipping a firearm when you ship a firearm (then you're stuck with whatever their policies are). And they define "firearm" as the serial numbered receiver, not a complete firearm.

    Failure to tell them that the stripped AR lower in the box is a firearm is a federal crime.

    Shipping a handgun frame by USPS is also a federal crime (as its illegal for a non FFL to ship a handgun via USPS...C&R FFL's are also not allowed to ship handguns via USPS).

    As far as the law is concerned, a firearm is a firearm whether its just the receiver, or its completely assembled (add ammo to the mix and it doesn't matter whom you ship it through or what you tell them its a crime).



    Trying to claim that a firearm (ie a serialized receiver) is just "parts" is a good way to face criminal charges AND if the shipment is lost its an excuse for UPS or FedEx to deny your insurance claim.
     
  8. AR-15 Rep

    AR-15 Rep Member

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    AR lowers are considered a firearm by BATF, and LE even though functionally they are not, but none the less they are considered a firearm.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2007
  9. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    Some of you are missing the point. OF COURSE THE LOWER MUST BE SHIPPED TO EITHER AN FFL, OR THE PERSON WHO OWNS THE LOWER AND HAS HAD IT LEGALLY TRANSFERRED TO THEM ALREADY.

    Whew! Now that I got that out of the way, the question is in regard to a lowly citizen non-FFL holder using USPS to legally ship a lower receiver (AR or handgun etc) TO AN FFL for sale, or gunsmithing/repairs etc.

    According to my source, you may not ship a functional firearm via USPS, but you may ship parts. The lower being simply another part and not dangerous in the least.
     
  10. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    Zundfolge, do you have a source for this info?
     
  11. Gator

    Gator Member

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    Yes, a private citizen may ship a long gun to an FFL, or gunsmith, or back to the factory for repair via USPS. The fact that it is a stripped lower instead of a complete rifle does not matter one bit. As far as the USPS and BATF are concerned it is a rifle.

    Your source should read the regs rather than depend on a phone conversation with someone at the BATF. The only way to get a definitive answer from ATF is by writing. Those people who answer the phones do not know the laws, are probably not agents, and are famous for giving out bad information.
     
  12. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    ARgh! I meant pistols, I wasn't talking about rifles. The rifle lower thing is secondary to the argument. Dangit!
     
  13. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    Here's the response from the guy I'm talking to:

     
  14. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

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    You may ship a functional long arm via USPS, but not even a handgun frame. Regardless of who you're shipping too (FFL, Manufacturer, ATF even).



    18USC 922 (e)
    Looks like, however, if you're shipping to an FFL you don't need to tell them. Interesting.

    Ok, maybe you're covered from a legal standpoint, however if the shipment is lost you've just given them an excuse to not pay the insurance claim.
     
  15. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    Er, Zundfolge, that's not what I was looking for. I already know you can ship fully assembled rifles via USPS. I want to know where it says I can't ship a handgun frame only to an FFL via USPS. I know I can't send a fully assembled handgun via USPS.

    Ah, I see now it was my mistake. I quoted the wrong quote, darn I'm having issues today. :p
     
  16. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    This seems to answer the question, maybe:
    A handgun frame by itself cannot be readily reassembled as a weapon. That should end it right there. In the definitions section they have:
    So we're in a situation of "it doesn't say you can't, but it doesn't say you can either". However, as far as ATF is concerned, as long as either the owner or an FFL is the receiver of the gun, there shouldn't be a problem.
     
  17. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    This keeps going around over and over.
    A common carrier is REQUIRED to obtain a signature for a firearm upon delivery.
    This means the carrier MUST be informed of the contents of the package.
    The law contains a 'knowingly' exemption so if the shipper fails to notify the carrier cannot be prosecuted.

    Do you really think BATFE did not have their lawyers review the FAQ answers??

    If your 'friend' is keeping firearms (the serial numbered portion) over night he MUST have an FFL.
    It can be a 'gunsmith' FFL, but he is required to have it and must comply with all the record keeping requirements.
     
  18. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    He is an FFL. He sells lowers, uppers, parts and does firearm refinishing.

    What we're talking about is how a non-FFL can send a handgun to him via USPS. You of course cannot send a full handgun via USPS if you are not an FFL. But the rules do seem to indicate that you can send the handgun frame all by itself, and then send the rest of the parts separately.
     
  19. deadin

    deadin Member

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    While you're in Pub 52 (Postal Regs) check out section 433:

    This basically says that the "final" word is the BATFE. And the BATFE says the receiver is the firearm.
     
  20. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    That is true with respect to transfer. It does not appear to be the case with shipping to an FFL or the owner of the firearm, which is a different issue.
     
  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    You are sending it to the guy who says he does it all the time, right?
    You appear to have talked yourself into it.
    Let us know how it works out.

    Me?
    I'll pay more to ship and less to a lawyer. You can be right but in court at hundreds per hour to prove it.
     
  22. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    Nope, I'm not shipping anything. I'm just curious for future reference. The guy doesn't say he does it all the time, he's an FFL and can already ship USPS.
     
  23. carnaby

    carnaby Member

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    The rules I have up there seem to be pretty clear.

    1. You cannot ship a functioning pistol

    2. You cannot ship something (dissassembled parts or whatever) that can be "readily reassembled as a weapon".

    The ATF stuff only has to do with transfer of a firearm to a person who is not yet the owner, and not an FFL. Where does it say anywhere in anyone's regs that you can't ship a firearm frame only to an FFL via USPS???
     
  24. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The BATF once made a case that a semi-auto was "readily convertible" to full auto based on several hours in a well equipped shop. I don't think they and the Postal Inspector would blanch at the idea of making a receiver "readily assembled as a weapon" by opening your other package from and to the same addresses.

    If you come to their notice, the government lawyers will not read the statute and regulation narrowly to your advantage.
     
  25. Soybomb

    Soybomb Member

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    Unless you're sending it to an ffl, then you don't have to.

    When the cost to send a firearm frame by ups ground or priority mail would be essentially the same I wouldn't play the "a frame isn't a complete gun" game with federal law. Ship UPS and avoid the potential of breaking any law.
     
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