Pistol lower: When filling out the background check?

CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior MemberPosts: 10,719 Senior Member
I was talking to my LGS staff and they said I do not have to designate a stripped lower as a rifle or pistol lower, just as a lower for the purpose of the backgrpound check paper work. IIRC there has been discussion on the forum about having to designate one way or the other depending on what you intend to do with the stripped lower, especially if building a pistol, I would appreciate some clarification, thanks.
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11

Replies

  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 9,662 Senior Member
    Depends on the state. For the feds, all they have to do is mark it as "Other" on the 4473. If your state requires registration... Dunno.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 20,564 Senior Member
    bullsi1911 wrote: »
    Depends on the state. For the feds, all they have to do is mark it as "Other" on the 4473. If your state requires registration... Dunno.

    This.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,719 Senior Member
    MN is an "other" state. Thanks guys.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • wizard78wizard78 Senior Member Posts: 1,004 Senior Member
    It never hurts to designate a lower as a "pistol" rather than a rifle or other. Point being that no one will question you if you build a pistol lower into a "rifle" but being able to show a pistol AR is documented (get a copy of the 4473) is worthwhile. Same as having a lower marked "multi" rather than 5.56.

    “When guns are outlawed, only patriots will have guns.”
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,719 Senior Member
    wizard78 wrote: »
    It never hurts to designate a lower as a "pistol" rather than a rifle or other. Point being that no one will question you if you build a pistol lower into a "rifle" but being able to show a pistol AR is documented (get a copy of the 4473) is worthwhile. Same as having a lower marked "multi" rather than 5.56.

    So, say I drive down to the SE Shoot and I pass through a state with their own rules on this and I have to explain myself for some reason, would I be 1/2 way to a bad day even though my state does not require it?
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • wizard78wizard78 Senior Member Posts: 1,004 Senior Member
    CHIRO1989 wrote: »
    So, say I drive down to the SE Shoot and I pass through a state with their own rules on this and I have to explain myself for some reason, would I be 1/2 way to a bad day even though my state does not require it?

    The Feds have passed laws allowing transit through states that don't allow weapons that are legal in your state. All that matters when traveling is that it is an a secured case without ammo and you don't lay over in states that don't allow it. Same as traveling with a handgun. I have a non marked pistol lower that I have a copy of the 4473 and would carry it with me if I traveled through NY, NJ, Washington DC or Chicago.

    “When guns are outlawed, only patriots will have guns.”
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,719 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    You coming this year?

    No promises, JBOhio put the bug in my ear.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • mythaeusmythaeus Senior Member Posts: 831 Senior Member
    wizard78 wrote: »
    It never hurts to designate a lower as a "pistol" rather than a rifle or other. Point being that no one will question you if you build a pistol lower into a "rifle" but being able to show a pistol AR is documented (get a copy of the 4473) is worthwhile. Same as having a lower marked "multi" rather than 5.56.

    Marking a lower receiver as "Handgun" on 4473 is simply incorrect. There is clearly an "Other Firearms: Frame, Receiver, etc." for this specific transfer purpose. See instructions on question #18 on from 4473: http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-4473-1.pdf . Not to mention some states, like PA, require that you fill an additional form for pistol transfer.

    Here's a scenario where you can get into legal trouble. If someone bought a complete rifle, then stripped it and sold it to you as a stripped receiver. You then transferred it as a "handgun" to "designate it" (another silly non-legal word) a pistol lower thinking the receiver is originally stripped (the guy never bother to think and mention). You take it and build a pistol. You run into the the ATF who happens to trace the SN back to the manufacturer who has recorded that lower to have been shipped as a complete rifle from factory. Now you have in your hand an illegally converted firearm.

    Furthermore, if you transferred a virgin lower as a handgun, you cannot build it into a rifle right off the bat if you changed your mind about building a pistol. Converting from a rifle to pistol is prohibited without the appropriate paperwork. So if you got a virgin receiver, transferred it as a pistol, and decided to build a rifle instead, you can't do it. You must first build a pistol out of it, then convert it to a rifle.

    The burden of proof is on the prosecution. You don't have to prove that a lower was a pistol before building it into a rifle. With ATF 2011-4 ruling you can go from a complete pistol lower to a rifle lower and BACK to a pistol lower. Still, you do NOT have to prove that it was originally a pistol. It will be up to the prosecution to provide evident to support that the lower was first built into a rifle (i.e from the manufacturer records). HOWEVER, it would help if you have timed photographic evident that the lower was built into a pistol and be sure that the prosecution has no evident that it was a rifle before that (which essentially means buying virgin receiver from factory and NEVER build a rifle first).

    Follow the law and do the transfer correctly. Don't do things "to make sure" unnecessarily that can come back and hurt you. Transfer a receiver as "Other Firearm: frame, receiver". Only after a complete pistol lower has been built that it should be transferred as a "Handgun" to the next buyer.

    Al
    "In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves." - Siddhartha Gautama
  • TSchubTSchub Senior Member Posts: 780 Senior Member
    Another can of worms for this thread.........Do you have to register the upper for the pistol as a SBR? Meaning if I designate a lower for a pistol , do I need to pay the fee and do additional paperwork for the upper? What is the max legenth for a pistol?
  • minnesotashooterminnesotashooter Senior Member Posts: 708 Senior Member
    CHIRO1989 wrote: »
    MN is an "other" state. Thanks guys.

    In many ways, this is true!!
  • wizard78wizard78 Senior Member Posts: 1,004 Senior Member
    mythaeus wrote: »
    ......
    Follow the law and do the transfer correctly. Don't do things "to make sure" unnecessarily that can come back and hurt you. Transfer a receiver as "Other Firearm: frame, receiver". Only after a complete pistol lower has been built that it should be transferred as a "Handgun" to the next buyer.

    Al
    I couldn't understand everything you espoused but let's get to crux of the question. He's NOT in Penn. so we don't have to concern ourselves with that. Furthermore, if an FFL is transferring the "lower receiver" as a pistol, the laws would be followed regarding the appropriate paperwork to register the pistol and that it is a NEW receiver. The confusion of making a pistol into a rifle was settled with the legal action and decision the Thompson Center Arms company brought forth with the BATFE. A pistol CAN be made into a Rifle. No one would question you if you had an AR rifle but you "might" get questioned if you had an AR pistol. If your receiver isn't marked "pistol", and you transfered it NEW as a pistol, all you have to do is carry a copy of the 4473 incase there arises a question of legality. If you decided that you wanted to covert the rifle you made with your "pistol" receiver back into a pistol, who would know, since it was originally a pistol?
    TSchub wrote: »
    Another can of worms for this thread.........Do you have to register the upper for the pistol as a SBR? Meaning if I designate a lower for a pistol , do I need to pay the fee and do additional paperwork for the upper? What is thlengthegenth for a pistol?

    There is no barrel length min or max limit on a "pistol". If you put a stock on it though, it HAS to have a minimum barrel length of 16" or if it's less than 16", it has to be registered as a SBR, BEFORE you assemble . Not really confusing.

    “When guns are outlawed, only patriots will have guns.”
  • mythaeusmythaeus Senior Member Posts: 831 Senior Member
    wizard78 wrote: »
    I couldn't understand everything you espoused but let's get to crux of the question. He's NOT in Penn. so we don't have to concern ourselves with that. Furthermore, if an FFL is transferring the "lower receiver" as a pistol, the laws would be followed regarding the appropriate paperwork to register the pistol and that it is a NEW receiver. The confusion of making a pistol into a rifle was settled with the legal action and decision the Thompson Center Arms company brought forth with the BATFE. A pistol CAN be made into a Rifle. No one would question you if you had an AR rifle but you "might" get questioned if you had an AR pistol. If your receiver isn't marked "pistol", and you transfered it NEW as a pistol, all you have to do is carry a copy of the 4473 incase there arises a question of legality. If you decided that you wanted to covert the rifle you made with your "pistol" receiver back into a pistol, who would know, since it was originally a pistol?

    I'm sorry, but this is illegal. If you transferred the virgin receiver as a "handgun" and make it into a rifle first and the ATF can prove that, converting it to a pistol after it initially was made a rifle from a virgin receiver is illegal without appropriate paperwork. This is why I kept saying transferring a receiver on 4473 as a "handgun" is incorrect and can get you into a heap of trouble. The primary issue is that you think transferring a receiver as a "handgun" makes it a pistol, which is fundamentally wrong. There isn't a legal term or validity to the word "designating". Marking on the form one way or another besides "Other" for a virgin receiver does not "designate" anything because it's not a valid legal term or act. The legal/illegal act is what you actually put together with the parts you have and what you built first and then subsequently with the receiver.

    The last paragraph of ATF 2011-4 ruling specifically supported my statement above:

    "Held further, a firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(4), is made when a handgun or other weapon with an overall length of less than 26 inches, or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length, is assembled or produced from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle. Such weapons must be registered and are subject to all requirements of the NFA."


    Bolded emphasis is mine. Note the "originally assembled" phrase. There are NO exceptions to that rule such as "unless the receiver was transferred as a 'handgun' on form 4473". Review the entire ruling here because it has a lot of details that are critical to what is legal: http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/rulings/atf-rulings/atf-ruling-2011-4.pdf

    The "pistol" marking on the receiver is absolutely meaningless. It's something that the manufacturers added to throw this huge mess into even bigger confusion. There are no laws anywhere and at any level that states pistol lowers must be marked pistol or if marked pistol must be transferred as "handgun". If there is, please cite that.

    I raised the PA transfer laws for handgun because it means an extra unnecessary form to fill out if MN has the same law.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm very confident in my understanding of the receiver/pistol/rifle laws and rulings. You are free to make your own interpretations given arguments and facts, but be very sure that you have rulings and laws to back you up. Doing things that are not required by law and thinking that it makes a difference in what you think the enforcement authority would recognize is asking for legal troubles.

    Al
    "In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves." - Siddhartha Gautama
  • mythaeusmythaeus Senior Member Posts: 831 Senior Member
    wizard78 wrote: »
    There is no barrel length min or max limit on a "pistol". If you put a stock on it though, it HAS to have a minimum barrel length of 16" or if it's less than 16", it has to be registered as a SBR, BEFORE you assemble . Not really confusing.

    This is 100% correct from my understanding of the laws.

    Al
    "In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves." - Siddhartha Gautama
  • wizard78wizard78 Senior Member Posts: 1,004 Senior Member
    mythaeus wrote: »
    .......I'm not a lawyer, but I'm very confident in my understanding of the receiver/pistol/rifle laws and rulings. You are free to make your own interpretations given arguments and facts, but be very sure that you have rulings and laws to back you up. Doing things that are not required by law and thinking that it makes a difference in what you think the enforcement authority would recognize is asking for legal troubles.

    Al

    I won't beleaguer the point other than to say that, the serialized part of the firearm is the registerable part of the firearm. In most situations the manufacturer determines whether the item is a handgun or rifle. That is the way it is shipped to the FFL and thus transfered to the buyer. In the case of a registable firearm that can be configured as both a handgun OR a rifle, as in the case of Thompson Center Arms Encore, Contender and the AR platform, If the manufacturer ships the registerable serialized part ( lower on an AR) as a "receiver", that part can be transfered as either handgun or rifle according to what the buyer wants to build. In the case of Encore, the factory designates the frame at time of serial assignment, as rifle or pistol. It doesn't matter if no other parts are added to the registerable part or not, it is still considered ether a handgun or rifle according to how it was transfered. Because of the abiguities involved, ( the frame on an Encore pistol was identical to the frame of Thompson rifle) T.C.A. went to legal lengths to fight the BATFE and get a ruling that any of their "pistol" designated frames can be reconfigured into a rifle. I would add that If I only had a pistol frame or AR receiver in my house, I wouldn't have rifle stock in the same location. Coversely, I wouldn't have a rifle configuration and have a barrel less than 16 inches in the same location. I believe that if the BATFE wants to put the screws to you, it will run you broke to fight them and you will eventually loose. Till today, BATFE will only site the rules the way they are written and has not changed the wording even after the court ruling.

    The following was taken verbatum from the policy statement by Tim Pancurak at Thompson Center Arms Co.:

    Notice Concerning Encore/Contender Pistols and Carbines


    Thompson/Center Arms Co. went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to establish the lawfulness of the Contender pistol and Carbine (including the carbine kit), and won. The Supreme Court opinion also establishes the legality of the Encore system, which has similar interchangeable parts.

    With these systems, a receiver may be assembled either with a pistol grip and pistol barrel, or with a shoulder stock and rifle barrrel (minimum length 16 inches). A barrel under 16 inches in length must never be assembled onto the reciever when the shoulder stock is attached. Within that parameter, the consumer may use the parts to make a pistol or carbine, and may change the configuration at will.

    In 1988, Thompson/Center filed suit against the United States alleging that the pistol and carbine kit used above do not constitute a rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches in length, a weapon made from a rifle with an overall length less than 26 inches, or a restricted "firearm" as otherwise defined in the National Firearms Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Thompson/Center. Their opinions are cited as United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Co., 504 U.S. 505 (1992), affirming 924 F.2d 1041 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

    In the trial court and in the Federal Circuit, the United States argued both that (1) the mere unassembled parts constituted a rifle with a barrel under 16 inches in length, and that (2) use of the receiver to assemble a pistol after a rifle had been assembled constituted making a weapon from a rifle with an overall length less than 26 inches. The Federal Circuit rejected both arguments. See 924 F.2d at 1043, citing 26 U.S.C. 5845 (a) (3) and (4). The United States abandoned the latter argument in the Supreme Court, which held generally for Thompson/Center. Accordingly, both issues (1) and (2) were decided in favor of Thompson/Center and are not now open to question.

    Thus, the sale, possession, and use of the Contender or Encore pistol and carbine as described are fully in accord with federal law. The use of these products in all of the States is likewise lawful, except that certain restrictions may apply in California.

    “When guns are outlawed, only patriots will have guns.”
  • mythaeusmythaeus Senior Member Posts: 831 Senior Member
    wizard78 wrote: »
    ...
    The following was taken verbatum from the policy statement by Tim Pancurak at Thompson Center Arms Co.:
    ...

    I'm well aware of the Thompson Center Arms case and ruling. It's cited extensively in the ATF 2011-4 ruling and ATF letters prior. The basis of the TC kit is that everything was shipped together, not as a stand alone receiver. One of the key points of the case was having all the parts in close proximity of each other and what that means.

    From ATF 2011-4:
    "The Court held that, where
    aggregated parts could convert a pistol into either a regulated short-barreled rifle, or an
    unregulated rifle with a barrel of 16 inches or more in length, the NFA was ambiguous and
    applied the “rule of lenity” (i.e., ambiguities in criminal statutes should be resolved in
    favor of the defendant) so that the pistol and carbine kit, when packaged together, were not
    considered a “short-barreled rifle” for purposes of the NFA."


    Emphasis is mine. In that parallel, manufacturers can have a complete assembled lower or have all the unassembled parts shipped together with a lower to constitute a rifle or a pistol during transfer, but a receiver alone does not have a legal designation other than "receiver" which is considered to be a firearm. Manufacturer marking of "pistol" has no legal binding without the rest of the parts shipped together or assembled. The rest of the ruling from ATF 2011-4 was very explicit on what constitute an NFA item, including my previous quote on converting an initially made rifle into a pistol.

    Again, my point of contention is there are no exceptions or ruling anywhere that allows for you or an FFL to simply mark form 4473 as "handgun" to make a receiver a pistol. It's what you built with subsequently after the transfer for the first time that will make it to be a rifle or pistol, upon which conversion to one or the other is regulated accordingly; and, after which all transfers need to be marked accordingly on 4473 (to either "handgun" or "rifle", but not "other").

    Al
    "In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves." - Siddhartha Gautama
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