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Where was I wrong?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Texas10mm, Aug 19, 2020.

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  1. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm member

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    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/hypothetical.873511/

    In this thread the OP has an complete AR with a 20" barrel. He has purchased a 10.5" upper. He wants to know if this is legal.

    I state once a rifle, always a rifle. I can't legally take my Colt LE6920 and slap a 10.5" lower on it, without paying the King his tithe, because then I would be creating a Short Barreled Rifle. If the Colt is the ONLY AR lower I have then possession of the 10.5" upper could be Constructive Possession.

    I know about the TC decision. That's different than what we're talking about, and yes, I've read the links. so that the pistol and carbine kit, when packaged together, were not considered a “short-barreled rifle” for purposes of the NFA. When you buy an AR lower it doesn't come with the barrels.

    IF you purchase an AR carbine/rifle, you have to jump through the hoops to legally put a short barreled receiver on it. In this case, once a rifle, always a rifle. You can make a short barreled rifle out of it but you can't make a pistol out of it.

    I know when purchasing an bare AR receiver, in the free states, it's not classified as either a rifle or pistol. But if you first assemble it as a RIFLE it will ALWAYS be a rifle.

    With a bare AR lower you can go pistol-rifle-pistol all day long. But you can't go rifle-pistol.
     
  2. Sovblocgunfan

    Sovblocgunfan Member

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    You ain’t wrong.

    i read that thread and I think everyone missed an important question tho. The OP says he has a complete AR. But who did the building? If he bought it that way, then it will be listed one way or another on the 4473. If he pieced it together, and he’s called to task on it, then he has to prove that it was built as a pistol first. Which he can’t do (rifle upper came first, then shorty upper). So in strict reading of his OP he’s got an SBR problem.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
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  3. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    Your statement is wrong because its always been legal to take a pistol and make it into a rifle. But 1934-2011 it was illegal to reassemble as a pistol. That's why someone came up with "Once a rifle, always a rifle". That was the reasoning behind the Thompson Center case.......ATF had held that once assembled as a rifle, it was always a rifle. Subsequent reassembly as a pistol meant a "firearm made from a rifle"....and that's regulated by the NFA. Until ATF Ruling 2011-4 it was illegal to go pistol>rifle>pistol.

    Now you could say "FIRST a rifle, always a rifle".
     
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  4. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    Then explain why.
    Before you do, understand how his "Once a rifle, always a rifle" applies to an AR pistol that I reconfigure as a rifle. Since 2011 I can legally reconfigure as a rifle.

    Thats why "Once a rifle, always a rifle" is wrong.;)
     
  5. Sovblocgunfan

    Sovblocgunfan Member

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    i edited my post to add content. Once a rifle... is not wrong. It depends on how it was built, if sold commercially as a complete firearm, or which came first. Chicken or egg.

    i guess the “first a rifle”... is more accurate phrasing.

    honestly, my single attempt at a “build” used a never-assembled finished lower that was marked as “other” on the 4473. And I ensured i bought a pistol kit first so i could build a rifle later if i wanted.

    if I’m ever taken to task on it the financial records will show that’s what I did first, so I can switch however I please. In my case, I did exactly the opposite of the OP with the 20” upper, and acted in the spirit of what Texas10mm is trying to describe.

    he’s not wrong, if the guy bought a finished rifle first. Or bought his components in the order he described, if we are going to apply the “constructive intent” argument. But that doesnt appear to have been addressed in that other thread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
  6. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    My understanding for AR builds is if you build an AR pistol off a virgin (never used) receiver, it is a pistol build. Which can be converted to a rifle and back to pistol on a whim. However, taking a pre-assembled (self or factory, makes no difference) AR with a 20 inch barrel and a stock for instance, and putting an 8" upper on it, violates the NFA and makes an unregistered short barrel rifle.

    In the locked thread, the OP was asking if putting a short barrel on his rifle receiver is legal. My understanding is it is not.
     
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  7. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm member

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    Correct. Once a rifle, always a rifle.
     
  8. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    I think the difference between "once a rifle and always a rifle" and "first a rifle always a rifle" like Tom said is the order. If you have an AR pistol, then make it a rifle you cannot go back to a pistol under once a rifle, always a rifle "rule."

    The 2011 ruling with Thompson Center is that a Pistol can be made a rifle, and back again because it was a pistol first.
     
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  9. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    In the locked thread, the OP didn't clearly specify what the original configuration was and therefore there was no way to answer the question.
    No. You can take a gun originally made as a pistol, convert it to a rifle and then convert it back to a pistol legally. The gun was once a rifle (second configuration) and yet it can be converted to a pistol because it was originally a pistol.

    BUT, if the gun was originally made as a rifle, then it can never be a pistol.

    "First a rifle--always a rifle." Correct.
    "Originally a rifle, always a rifle." Correct.
    "Once a rifle, always a rifle." Incorrect. There is a legal way to convert a legal rifle configuration to a pistol if the firearm was originally made as a pistol.

    Moving to Legal.
     
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  10. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    And there 's really nothing more to discuss. John summed it up well.

    In any event, ATF issued Ruling 2011-4 following the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Co., 504 U.S. 505 (1992):

     
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