I agree it's definitely being used to sway public opinion.
ATF Online - Firarms - FAQ
per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution.
I've been looking into this for a little while now and am not an expert by any means, but from what I understand anyone can manufacture their own firearms provided they can legally possess them in the first place and that they meet all federal/state/local laws governing firearms.
I watched a video on youtube of somebody going through making your own AK47 from a receiver flat step by step. He got to the part about what makes a semi-auto AK different from a full auto is a couple of trigger pieces and another hole drilled into the receiver, and just the act of drilling that hole is a federal offense.
ETA: Found the video I mentioned. The part about converting to full auto starts ~ 02:45
edit on 8/25/12 by thov420 because: (no reason given)