California District Court Judge James V. Selena recently questioned the validity of the ATF’s classification of AR15 lowers as firearms during a recent criminal case. The case in question involved an individual that was hosting build parties where individuals would take 80% AR receivers, place them in a CNC machine and press a button to complete remaining cuts to meet the ATF’s classification as a firearm.
By requiring builders to press the button on the machine, the defendant reasoned that he wasn’t operating as a manufacturer - the ATF saw things differently though.
Judge Selena determined that since the lower isn’t threaded for a barrel and doesn’t contain the bolt or breechblock, it doesn’t meet the legal definition of a firearm as set forth in 27 C.F.R. § 478.11. This runs contrary to the ATF’s interpretation of the law, and interestingly enough, prosecutors actively sought to prevent this interpretation from setting a precedent.
Which seems counter-intuitive, given the propensity of CA prosecutors and politicians to jump on any gun confiscation bandwagon possible. According to the reports of the case, the deal was struck because a sudden reclassification of the law would severely frustrate enforcement of existing gun laws.
Which makes sense. Imagine if tomorrow none of your lowers were considered firearms, but all your uppers were. Millions of Americans could instantly become felons in possession of countless firearms which were not registered by licensed manufacturers, while simultaneously owning registered lowers that are no longer considered firearms. In a nutshell, their records would be stuffed with bad data, and there would be more unregistered guns in American than ever before. A prospect that is truly terrifying to Democratic politicians and wet blankets everywhere.