80% Lower, c Tactical Machining

While the media has been running with the domestic spying story like a dog with a juicy bone, the Santa Monica shooting and the recent trip by Sandy Hook victim’s families to Washington to pull on politician’s heartstrings have been solid “B” block filler throughout the week, simmering in the background. The latest news out of California is that the shooter “bypassed” California’s exceedingly strict gun control measures by building his own AR-15 rile from an 80% lower receiver . . .

From the AP:

Police said Zawahri bought a lower receiver that was only 80 percent complete. Because it is not complete and not considered a full weapon, a person isn’t required to go through a background check to get one, nor does the part need to have a serial number.

Though Zawahri fired about 100 rounds during the rampage, police said he was carrying 1,300 rounds of ammunition in magazines that were capable of holding 30 rounds each. Such high-capacity magazines are illegal to purchase, sell or transfer in California. Possession is not illegal. He also had a spare upper receiver and the antique revolver with him in a duffel bag.

It sounds like this guy knew exactly how to skirt current gun control laws.

The person who sent us this tip thought that the AP’s info about 80% lowers was incorrect, but after an email exchange with Brandon Combs of the Calguns Foundation to get the straight dope on Cali’s current gun laws, they have it spot on.

According to state and federal law, something is either a firearm or it isn’t. Legally speaking, and 80% lower is simply a block of aluminum until the end user drills the final holes and makes it operational. And since this firearm was created for personal use and never sold via interstate commerce, it needed no markings, no serial number, and no registration.

Antique handguns are also exempt from almost every gun control regulation, but I’m not 100% sure what the AP means when they say “antique.” They could be referring to the actual status of the firearm as an antique, meaning that the firearm was manufactured prior to 1898. Or they could simply see a cap and ball black powder pistol and be calling it an antique design. Those guns, of course, are still being made. Either way, they’re not subject to the same controls as modern firearms and wouldn’t require a background check to purchase.

Will this prompt calls to regulate unfinished lower receivers? Probably. But how, exactly, would one do that? “Anything that can be assembled into a firearm receiver must have a serial number?” In that case I guess I’ll need to get my shovel engraved . . .

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43 Responses to Santa Monica Shooter’s AR-15 Built From 8043 Lower

  1. If his cap and ball pistol was indeed manufactured before 1898 watch for someone to introduce a bill requiring background checks for all firearms including antique and modern muzzle loaders.

  2. I was previously in the business of hosting clinics that legally assist people in fishing 80% lowers, the last clinic we held was in February of this year, and we shut down and canceled future clinics under the advice of our attorney (he is a well known 2A attorney). And sure enough, the ATF is now sending out cease and desist letters to all “build party” operations here in California. Point being, the whole “80% AR lower” thing has been under added scrutiny for several months now already, this is just the proverbial final nail in the coffin I think.

    But regardless of the 80% issue, how many laws did this kid break already?, it appears he was mentally unstable to start, so how many more laws will be enacted based on this tragedy ? And how can anyone think that a few more draconian laws will stop the next whack job ? With all the latest added laws, and umpteen more being added everyday, you would think that the dramatic rise in crime in California over the last year would show that it’s not working, meanwhile in more gun friendly states, crime is dropping.

    • You are right. I participated in the Ron Conway/Sandy Hook “Tech Response” hackathon last weekend as a “cultural liaison” (aka, “knuckle-dragger”) trying to get often eanest people to do something constructive. Total bust, IMO.

      Just starting the conversation takes an incredible amount of education. The software engineers are smart enough and interested, but the sponsors are neither.

    • The mental feebs do not yet understand the individuals motives as yet and thus have to create a hockus pockus variety of non-logical answers in order to maintain hierarchical obedience.

      The shooter wasn’t mentally unstable, he was ahead of the learning curve and few if any will come to understand how he was making the world a free’r place.

    • I thought our (CA) violent crime (and crime with guns) has been on a decline by about 3% to 4% per year?

    • I did the same math, assuming he is using PMAG’s (or equivalent plastic) that weigh 17 oz. each (on my kitchen scale) he was carrying 45+ pounds in mags/ammo alone. I agree. Fishy at best.

      • he didnt have 43 mags. he had about 20. they were not pmags, they were aluminum. i saw about 4 50rd .223 boxes + the 30rd mags.

      • Like i said in a comment on another story. Not fishy, just shit for brains. These shooters honestly believe that they’ll have an opportunity to burn through that much ammo. Methinks the kid played too much army of two.

        • [shrug]

          Maybe his plan was to shoot the responding police and take a full-auto rifle off them.

          It’s the only scenario I can think of where packing that much ammo makes any sense.

    • Beat me to it; I lingered on the calculator. I have never seen or heard of anyone carrying 43.33333 magazines. Where did he get 1300 rounds in California?

  3. he had many rounds still in boxes. from the blurry picture i saw he had pmc ammo. but he did have at least 15-20 mags.

  4. Allow me to translate what they are really saying here

    Metal blocks are the cause of dead bodies. Not just small copper shrouded lead metal blocks with steel cores. Plain old homogeneous Aluminum stock.

    We are moving into a post-crystalline structural epoch now. Throw out your spoons and tin foil hats. Embrace the naked new world order, now get out there and press the flesh.

  5. Those progressive/ communists in California are peeing all over themselves in fear at the “Loophole” they left in law; they will now pass another law to correct this horrendous situation. “That’s the ticket”

  6. My favorite is how they make it sound like these shooters only caused the damage they cause due to having a semi-automatic and tons of 30rd magazines. Apparently this guy fired 100rds in 10mins, or 1 shot every 6 seconds: I can do better than that with a bolt action deer rifle…

  7. Slave states will begin to pass prohibitions on all manner of individually owned guns and gun parts that are not restricted by Federal law. In those states already, NFA items are banned outright.

    • Actually NFA items are not banned outright in CA. AOW are still possible. The law on machine guns and silencers (passed in 1967) requires “good cause” which was later redefined to include only certain sets of causes (including, I work in the movies, gimme). Hence we have well over 20,000, I want to say almost 30,000 transferable machine guns in California. We have more than Texas, less than Virginia iirc. But mostly owned by those that got it before 1992 or have connections with movies.

  8. Sounds like the real story – and dirty little secret – is that California’s gun control laws don’t really work.

  9. I think it’s important to point out that there is more than pivot hole drilling needed in an 80%. You have to CNC out the the WHOLE fire control group well.
    Not like an AK “80%” (or flat) where you have to bend, weld and heat treat.

    The shrill overcoiffed eyecandy teleprompter readers on CNN yesterday framed this “80%” bit by saying this “may have some people alarmed”.

    Funny, these vapid, no-talent, 35-going-on-14, too-proud-to-do-porn, silicone dolls would swoon over the fact that I grow my own grapes in a home vineyard and make my own wine from them (when the raccoons the hug-a-bunny hippies won’t let me kill or trap don’t eat all my fruit, that is), but if they saw me bending a flat or head spacing a barrel, they’d soil their thongs.

    I wonder what their reaction would be if I told them I have a license to inject people with radioactive isotopes on a daily basis….

      • Yet you forever assume there is someone to vote for. In the two-party only, Republicrat system, they laugh up their sleeves at your naivité.

        It’s a sucker’s game, and you’re too asleep to see it:

    • Raccoons – Try a carefully covered, hidden live trap and a .22short CB cap head shot out of a rifle barrel (or even a long-barrel pistol) when it is time to eliminate the trap occupant. VERY quiet. Or a powerful pellet pistol, if you can be seen by the neighbor when you carry a rifle, or if any discharge of a firearm is illegal..

      • If you have a live trap and are in a place you can’t shoot them, pick the live trap up (not in a way the animal can get a hold on you, of course) and drop that trap in a small pond, large bucket, or drum filled with water. Wait for bubbles to cease. Empty trap into bag. Drop bag into garbage. Repeat as necessary.

  10. The part about the antique pistol is only mostly correct. Cap and ball pistols may be purchased without a background check, for sure, but NOT if they are converted to carry modern ammunition. A close examination of the Remington reveals that it had a conversion cylinder, converting it from cap and ball to .45LC, and he had a few extra rounds in his bag. These conversion cylinders can only be legally transferred through an FFL with, in California, a background check, as well as all private sales. So how he got the revolver is still a mystery.

    • Um, no. If I buy a ball and cap, I can buy a conversion cylinder later on, no background check. Heck I can order both online and have it shipped to my door. In California

      As a single action, you would not even have to worry about any stretching of the roster law about manufacture.

      No background checks on cylinders or gun parts other than receivers and frames. Whoever told you otherwise is quite wrong.

    • NYS has tried to regulate cap and ball already. If you have a C&B pistol AND powder and shot, you need a pistol permit. You can hang as many as you want on your wall, OR own powder & shot without a judge’s approval…

      This is because of an enterprising group of motorcycle enthusiasts… They even used pre loaded spare cylinders like speed loaders ( that’s “speed”.)

  11. The guy was nuts. Its that simple.
    Just like Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine and most other school shootings.

    The pols in Sacramento are grandstanders competing to get most PR for campaign cash from liberal voters. It has nothing to do with 2A rights or what makes sense to restrict weapon capability, as if controlling the gun controls the person actually worked, anyway.

    And the average urban or suburban non-gun owning voter hasnt a clue, sadly, about the above.

    Thats why Calguns and SAF and NRA have to take them to court, and why if you care, you need to send some money to help out.

    As goes California, so goes the nation…

  12. What’s to stop an insane person from making a knife or other stabbing weapon?

    Does the state perform background checks on everyone with a drivers license? How often do they re-check that information to make sure the person isn’t suffering from a mental illness?

    Should hammer and axe sales be subject to background checks? Chainsaws?

    There is really no limit to the number of things that COULD be used as a weapon if someone was intent on causing harm.

  13. I like how the continuing coverage conveniently fails to mention that he failed a background check when he tried to by a fully assembled AR. I heard it mentioned in ONE story, and then never again.

  14. …the shooter “bypassed” California’s exceedingly strict gun control measures by building his own AR-15 rile from an 80% lower receiver…

    Yeah it’s just not true. Even if you build your own gun, which means no serial number and no background check, you are still required to follow CA’s assault weapons laws. That would mean no AWB “features” or else have a locked magazine, following the minimum overall length laws, etc etc. There is no CA registry for long guns anyway, so building it yourself doesn’t bypass anything like that either. There are PLENTY of AR-15 rifles that you can purchase from stores in California — the rifles themselves are not illegal.

    Additionally, if you cannot pass a background check, meaning you are not legally eligible to own a firearm, then it’s also illegal for you to build your own firearm. There was no loophole or bypass of CA gun control measures here. No matter what, this guy broke laws, and the suggestions that he found away around the laws are not accurate.

  15. We at GenesisCNC understand the market demand out there for 80% Lower Receivers. We offer the AR-15 and the AR-10 models.

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  16. Doesn’t anybody see what’s going on? The government is stripping our rights slowly away little by little everyday. So it wont be too obvious as if they were to just totally crap on our FEDERAL CONSTITUTION that they have seemed to forget. The administration will continue this agenda until America is just another 3rd world country. Because the real truth is that they know that our 2nd Amendment was given to us to prevent government tyranny. So, they continue gnawing on our rights until one day the dam gives way and finally breaks.

    • In 6 March in Backerfield Ca ATF raided a newly opened gun store that mostly catered to ar customers. The produced their own polymer 80% lowers. They had an amazing business. They had unfortunately only been open one week when the raid took place. It is my understanding the ATF seized all their paperwork and they have been asked to not sell anymore 80%. Not sure if this is true or not. I plan on calling the store tomorrow to find out. I do know they are out of stock on line.

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