EDITED TO ADD: It appears that you are in CA. All bets are off, you may well have broken the law just by looking at the word "firearm". What is
written below may not apply to you at all.
ALSO EDITED TO ADD (because I should have read the whole thread before replying): If you've been denied once, get that matter resolved before
making anything. A misdemeanor is, in some circumstances, capable of making you a prohibited person. Get that cleared up first.
originally posted by: Thisbseth
Thanks to all that replied that's why I love me some ATS. A lot of different opinions coming together! And now I know where to start with this. I'm
interested in more answers if any one else wants to chime in
The starting point is that any firearm you can legally possess, you can legally build. If you have the tools and the skills, you can take a few chunks
of metal and turn them into a fully functional firearm - provided it is a legal firearm. You do not need to register the firearm in some states, you
do not even need to add a serial number in many cases. There's more to it than that, however, and you may be subject to further restrictions, so
read the rest
before you start building anything!
A firearm is made up of lots of components but usually only one part is actually considered the firearm. In the case of the AR15, that is the "lower".
The other parts are not restricted at the Federal level (with some exceptions, notably silencers).
An important difference (and this is where the 80% lower comes in) is whether you are making your firearm for personal use, or to sell. If you make a
firearm with the intention of selling it, you need to have a Federal Firearms License. Slight oversimplification, but sufficient for now. Another
important point is who builds it?
There is a point where your hunk of metal stops being a hunk of metal and is legally considered a firearm. The general rule at the moment is "80%" -
once it is more than 80% complete then it is a firearm and subject to all the requirements and restrictions of any other firearm. If it's only 80%
then it's still just a hunk of metal and completely unregulated. A number of companies are now manufacturing these "almost-but-not-enough" 80% kits
for people to complete at home. As long as you personally are the one who takes it from 80% up to 100%, it's a personal build. You can't take it to a
machine shop for them to complete or get a friend to do the work for you unless they have a FFL. It has to be you. You could use a friend's workshop
if they have the tools, but it's got to be you doing the work.
So how do you know when something is 80% completed? You don't. The BATF sort of make it up as they go along. What a manufacturer will usually do is to
submit a prototype to the BATF and get a letter stating whether the technical branch consider it to be a firearm. Once the company makes it too easy
to complete (ie drilling all the holes, marking all the cutting points, broaching the magazine well, etc) then it will be treated as a firearm. This
is the current issue with Ares Armor that probably triggered your original question. Actually, the AA issue is slightly more complex as part of the
allegation seems to be that AA make >80% lower (so it legally becomes a firearm) but then "backfill" part of it so that is no longer >80% - however,
once it has "become" a firearm it can't "unbecome" one and should have been sold in compliance with the usual firearms rules. "Who is correct" is
another thread entirely, especially given AA's manufacturing process.
There are then a number of other rules - mostly made up by the BATF as they go along - that also need to be followed for it to be legal. If the
firearm you make can be easily converted to full auto, you have a problem. For example, you could build a semi-automatic Uzi which could also fit a
full auto bolt. This would be bad juju. To stay out of trouble, you would need to make your Uzi incompatible with a full auto bolt - which could
include welding "denial islands" into the frame so that only a semi-auto bolt with a matching cutout would fit. If you make a rifle with a barrel
below 16" or an overall length < 23"(?need to confirm) then you've made a SBR which needs to be registered and a tax stamp obtained.
Once past the Federal hurdles, you might also have local restrictions. I believe that SBRs are not legal in some states, even if registered and with a
tax stamp. California has some really weird and wacky requirements, especially.
I've mentioned one or two restrictions, your best best is to research into the full list yourself. There are probably forums on the internet that will
have more specialist knowledge and can help you through the process while staying legal.
So, back to your original question. Can you buy the individual components and have them mailed to you? Certainly. Lots of people do. The only issue is
with the part that is classified as the actual firearm, for example the lower on the AR15. If you order a completed lower, you would have to go
through all the same steps as purchasing a complete firearm, including having to have it delivered to a local FFL who will then complete any
background checks before handing it over to you.
If you want to order a 80% lower, you can do that and have it delivered without restriction. You will need access to a reasonable amount of tools to
complete the job, as well as having the experience with the tools to use them properly. Remember, you need to achieve a relatively high level of
precision for everything to work together and one wrong cut will leave you with a worthless paperweight.
Plenty of people build their own firearms this way, there should be plenty of resources online for doing it. It's no different to the people who build
their own kit cars, or kit planes, or kit RC helicopters. Just please, for the love of the deity of your choice, make sure you check the laws at both
the state and federal level so you know what features it can or cannot have!
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer in your jurisdiction, please take appropriate legal advice, etc etc
edit on 24-4-2014 by EvillerBob because: (no
edit on 24-4-2014 by EvillerBob because: (no reason given)