Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    I was at the gun show in Monroeville a couple weeks ago, and I saw some vendors selling unfinished receivers for an AR15 / M16 build. I don't know the details, but from what they said, it seems it is legal to build a gun of your own, you just can't sell it, and that's what those unfinished receivers were for. Not all the machining was done.

    Also, from what I've been told, the AR15 / M16 design has tons of aftermarket parts, and only the lower receiver is serialized, so anything else can be changed.

    How does that apply to semi-auto vs. full-auto? Would it still be illegal to make a custom full auto gun?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    I'm not a lawyer. Most of my sources would be from reading this board. Check my answers for correctness.

    It is perfectly legal to build your own firearm. It is also legal to sell that firearm, but you cannot build it with the intent to sell it. It is not legal to manufacture a full auto firearm without extensive licensing from the ATF.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    Quote Originally Posted by marketermac View Post
    I'm not a lawyer. Most of my sources would be from reading this board. Check my answers for correctness.

    It is perfectly legal to build your own firearm. It is also legal to sell that firearm, but you cannot build it with the intent to sell it. It is not legal to manufacture a full auto firearm without extensive licensing from the ATF.
    Short, simple, and correct.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    You were looking at 80% lowers for AR's. You can take it home, finish it, and build either a pistol (barrel less than 16" with pistol buffer tube or Sig arm brace) or rifle (16" barrel and normal stock) to your liking without notifying anyone. If you want to configure it as a short barrel rifle (barrel less than 16" and normal stock) you have to pay the $200 tax and submit an ATF Form 1. To build a post 1986 new machine gun you would have to be an FFL 07 with SOT 02 (many fees and legitimate business owner). Indeed the AR lower is the only part that is considered a firearm and would be serialized. The upper with barrel and all the other parts are not regulated.
    Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    Silly part of the law making the lower (considered the serialized frame in normal productions) the "firearm", you could alter the BCG in the upper to have a solid unmoving firing pin extending permanently from the bolt face, chamber a round, release the bolt via the bolt release, and fire the chambered round....but the "upper" isn't a firearm. (Maybe it is once it is so converted?)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    Silly part of the law making the lower (considered the serialized frame in normal productions) the "firearm", you could alter the BCG in the upper to have a solid unmoving firing pin extending permanently from the bolt face, chamber a round, release the bolt via the bolt release, and fire the chambered round....but the "upper" isn't a firearm. (Maybe it is once it is so converted?)
    That wouldn't make any difference if the upper or lower was registered. The bolt isn't part of either and in doing so you'd have created an illegal unregistered machine gun. If you're busted with a collection of gun parts that fire more than one round when you release the firing mechanism (in this case, the bolt release), that collection of parts is a machine gun, even if somehow you did that with no lower receiver at all.
    --Sam

  7. #7
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    uh.....what feeds the second and subsequent round(s)??? Oh...I see...my bad...the bolt release is on the lower....OK.....draw the charging handle back and release it by hand to fire the round....clumsy but could be done.... my point is, I could fire a round and yet the firing mechanism is not a firearm without the lower attached, unless there is something else I'm not thinking of.

    Anyway...I'm kind of throwing the thread off subject. Sorry.
    Last edited by Bang; December 9th, 2014 at 02:44 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    I could fire a round and yet the firing mechanism is not a firearm without the lower attached, unless there is something else I'm not thinking of.
    Well, that was the point I was contending: The firing mechanism IS a firearm, by federal definitions, if it is capable of firing rounds, and IS a machine gun if it fires more than one when you trip the trigger.

    Just because it doesn't have an AR-15 lower attached (however that might be made to happen) doesn't make it not a firearm.

    Sometimes we all get a bit too hung up in the specific definitions of what is THE "firearm" for the purposes of transferring, shipping, etc, that we could lose sight of the "if it walks like a duck...it's a duck" factor.
    --Sam

  9. #9
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    Now you're applying common sense, which has little place in law.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: PA and Federal laws on custom building a gun?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshIronshaft View Post
    You were looking at 80% lowers for AR's. You can take it home, finish it, and build either a pistol (barrel less than 16" with pistol buffer tube or Sig arm brace) or rifle (16" barrel and normal stock) to your liking without notifying anyone. If you want to configure it as a short barrel rifle (barrel less than 16" and normal stock) you have to pay the $200 tax and submit an ATF Form 1. To build a post 1986 new machine gun you would have to be an FFL 07 with SOT 02 (many fees and legitimate business owner). Indeed the AR lower is the only part that is considered a firearm and would be serialized. The upper with barrel and all the other parts are not regulated.
    I just realized how old this thread was so I'm responding like 5 years later. You do not have to get a $200 tax stamp if your AR Pistol Build starts as a Pistol. If you build it as a rifle first then decide to make it 16" or less then you have to forego the tax stamp. I am not a lawyer disclaimer.

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