The anti-gun people are running up against the definition problems of an “assault weapon” at a more fundamental level.
Very, very interesting. The courts are reluctantly being our friends (emphasis added):
Nicolaysen argued that the definition of a receiver under the relevant federal code differed in various ways from the AR-15 component Roh was accused of manufacturing.
Under the US Code of Federal Regulations, a firearm frame or receiver is defined as: “That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.”
The lower receiver in Roh’s case does not have a bolt or breechblock and is not threaded to receive the barrel, Nicolaysen noted.
He called the decision to classify it as a firearm nonetheless, the result of “secret, in-house decision-making.”
Nicolaysen accused the ATF of abusing its authority by pursuing Roh based on his alleged violation of a policy “that masquerades as law.”
He asked the judge to consider recommending that then-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions conduct a review to determine whether there were any similar cases pending around the country or past convictions “sustained on the basis of ATF policy, rather than law.”
Prosecutors acknowledged there were technical differences between the regulation and the lower receiver in Roh’s case, but said the ATF’s interpretation of the regulation was consistent with the intent of federal gun laws. The agency’s reading of the law “should also receive deference from this court,” prosecutors Shawn J. Nelson and Benjamin D. Lichtman argued.
Adopting the defense position, the prosecutors wrote, would be “manifestly incompatible” with the intent of the federal Gun Control Act and would “severely frustrate” enforcement of the law.
The prosecutors’ filing said a ruling in favor of the defense could impact the receivers for up to 90% of the firearms in America.
“The necessary result of this would be that the unregulated parts could be manufactured, sold, and combined with other commercially available parts to create completed, un-serialized firearms which would not be subject to background checks, and which would be untraceable,” the prosecutors wrote. “Defendant’s interpretation would mean that nearly every semi-automatic firearm could be purchased piece by piece with no regulation or background check before a prohibited person would have a firearm.”
Though the trial lasted less than a week, Selna deliberated for more than year. In April, he issued a tentative order in which he determined that the ATF had improperly classified the AR-15 lower receivers in Roh’s case as firearms.
He rejected the prosecution’s argument that the ATF’s interpretation of the regulation describing a receiver could reasonably be applied to the device at issue in Roh’s case.
“There is a disconnect,” the judge wrote.
Selna added that the combination of the federal law and regulation governing the manufacturing of receivers is “unconstitutionally vague” as applied in the case against Roh.
“No reasonable person would understand that a part constitutes a receiver where it lacks the components specified in the regulation,” Selna wrote.
Therefore, the judge determined, “Roh did not violate the law by manufacturing receivers.”
This may mean is that we may be able to legally get away purchasing AR-15 lower receivers and perhaps many semi-auto firearm frames without 4473s, background checks, and licensing.
If we can get this firmed up a little bit before congress can act there could be a huge flurry of gun sales that will give the anti-gunners difficulties for years. All those guns they thought they had registered and restricted can be made to legally disappear:
- “You want that registered firearm I had a year or two ago? Yeah, I remember. I broke it up into parts and sold via the bulletin board at the gun range in the next state over.”
- “Nope. I didn’t buy a gun over the Internet from the other coast. I just bought a few parts.over the course of a couple days.”
Another brick in the wall.