Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pot Scrubber As Registered Firearms

Federal law considers any weapon that can be "readily converted" to an automatic weapon to be a machine gun.  See 26 USC 5845(b) for the definition:
 The term “machinegun” means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
The same thing is true if you convert any of the critical parts that convert a semiauto weapon into a machine gun--such as making an AR-15 Auto-Sear.

Exactly what constitutes "readily converted" is not defined by statute, but I understand that some of the case law has held that if you can do it in less than eight hours in a fully equipped machine shop, that meets the requirement.  When I went hunting for citations, I found this decision, U.S. v. Seven Miscellaneous Firearms, 503 F.Supp. 565, 577 (D.D.C. 1980) that seems to regard "a master gunsmith working in a gun shop, the equipment and tools costing $65,000-13¾ hours" as not readily convertible.  On the other hand, United States v. 16,179 Molso Italian .22 Caliber Winlee Derringer Convertible Starter Guns, 443 F.2d 463 (2d Cir.), cited here indicated that blank starter guns that could be converted to fire live ammunition in "three to twelve minutes" were readily convertible, and I think we can all agree on that constituting "readily convertible." 

I have heard (which is to say, that it is probably rumor, but it certainly seems possible) that some clever guy converted a Volvo rear axle into a machine gun within this definition---theoretically making vast numbers of Volvos into machine guns.

Here we have a marvelous example of where this law takes you.  The headline oversimplifies it: the Chore Boy pot scrubber is not now a machine gun or silencer, so those of you who own these do not need to register them with the government.  But the official letter from BATF is very close to that.  It turns out that if you have a registered silencer, and you (not the licensed manufacturer of the silencer) replace the worn out parts inside with a Chore Boy pot scrubber (which is essentially the same material as the silencer comes with from the manufacturer), you are in violation of the law.  Worse: if you keep Chore Boy pot scrubbers and you own a silencer, you have in your possession unlawful silencer materials, and are in violation of the law.

Even though I live in a state where machine guns and silencers are legal to own, watching this sort of madness is enough to discourage me from doing so: what if someone decides the brand of pot scrubber we use in the sink qualifies as an unregistered silencer?

1 comment:

Karl said...

Somewhere, I have a list of perfectly mundane and commonplace items that can be made into silencers. These include plastic soda bottles.

And there's one episode of CSI where someone made a silencer using a 3-D printer. I don't know how well it would work, but it might last one or two firings.