To legislate something effectively, you must first define it.
CNN has published a story. It’s an illustrative story. It reveals much about the actual true state of law and firearms in this nation, and by extension around the world. We tend to live in this bubble within ‘Rule of Law’ and when the laws we are most aware of make sense, speed limits for example, we begin to naturally assume all laws make around that much sense too. Even if we know better.
Here’s what happened, you can read the whole fasicating thing on CNN’s page but for those who would rather a summary, here we go.
Joseph Roh illegally manufactured AR-15-style rifles in a warehouse south of Los Angeles. No serial number 80% type deals.
More than two dozen of his customers were legally prohibited from possessing a firearm. But they could push a button, pull a lever, and walk away a short time later with a fully assembled, untraceable semi-automatic weapon for about $1,000.
By “technically” building their own firearm the buyers were never subject to a 4473 NICS transfer and thus no background check. They were still breaking the law, as they were prohibited persons, but there was no notice to any LEO agency because the only point where it became a functioning firearm and subject to the controls inherent on manufactured firearms, it was in the owner’s possession.
Firearms built for personal use are not required to be serialized. They cannot be sold legally until they are serialized. Roh was playing fast and loose with this legal provision and got rolled up for it. Facing federal charges as an illicit arms dealer Roh hit the courtroom.
And now… the charges are being dropped on a deferred prosecution agreement. Basically if Roh keeps his nose clean for X amount of time he’s free and clear of the full list of charges that were circumventing the background checks and manufacturing laws.
It’s all in the definitions.
Because the AR-15 (and several other modern rifle designs) use a two receiver system to distribute the held operational parts, they are not functional firearms. When seperated from any functioning parts they are not firearms.
Duh, but we’ve always done it this way…
Yes but by the definitions of laws like the Gun Control Act the AR-15 is not a firearm until it is assembled. Prior to that it is just parts, non-controlled.
If Roh’s case were to go to trial, by the findings of the judge involved, the very definition of what constitutes a firearm would have to change. And not in the favor of supporting the current regulatory and control systems in place.
Under the US Code of Federal Regulations, a firearm frame or receiver is defined as: “That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.”
This is two parts on many modern firearm designs, which makes neither one of those parts meet the federal definition of receiver. Even a Glock pistol doesn’t meet this definition as most of the parts referenced are held in the slide, not the frame.
To comply with ‘spirit of the law’ manufacturers have always picked a core part of their design to serialize, it did not have to meet the full federal definition of a receiver or frame.
Roh, if he keeps his nose clean, gets to walk free from all charges in order to preserve the standing practices of federal firearms policy.
To legislate something effectively it must be defined.