Delaware House Bill 277 is one of the unintentionally funniest bits of legislation I’ve seen in a while, thanks to Rep. Valerie Longhurst‘s (the House Majority Leader, no less) monumentally poor wording. If passed, every machinist, metal worker, plumber, and construction worker in the Blue Hen State would need a Federal Firearms License (FFL). And that’s just one of its problems.
As Legiscan describes Rep. Longhurst’s legislative opus . . .
This bill establishes the crimes of possession of an unfinished firearm frame or receiver with no serial number, possession of and manufacturing a covert or undetectable firearm, possession of and manufacturing an untraceable firearm, and manufacturing or distributing a firearm using a three-dimensional printer. This bill also makes it a crime to possess a firearm frame or receiver with a removed, obliterated, or altered serial number.
Let’s run down the list of unintentional comedy.
“Firearm frame or receiver” means the part of the firearm that provides housing for the firearm’s internal components, and includes the hammer, bolt or breechblock, action, and firing mechanism.
That’s poorly phrased. That makes barrels firearms. Ditto hammers, bolts, and breechblocks, in and of themselves. Longhurst probably should have phrased that as “…internal components, to include the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism.”
I’ve no idea what “action” is supposed to mean since the bill separately lists the firing mechanism and other parts. Possibly it would be the firing pin. I suspect she was trying to match the federal definition of firearm — clumsily — but that still leaves her with the problem of AR lower receivers not meeting the definition.
“Unfinished firearm frame or receiver” means a firearm frame or receiver that requires further machining or molding in order to be used as part of a functional firearm, and which is designed and intended to be used in the assembly of a functional firearm.”
Congratulations. Rep. Longhurst has replicated Pennsylvania’s unfinished frame/receiver fiasco. Since it sets no threshold for machining, it makes every billet or sheet of metal in Delaware a firearm. Steel pipe, too. A length of 2×4 lumber will also meet that description, since I’ve seen several several zip guns in which the trigger/hammer assembly is housed in the block.
Add plumbers and construction workers to the list of people needing an FFL.
“No person shall knowingly transport, ship, transfer, or sell an unfinished firearm frame or receiver unless all of the following apply…
(1) The person is a federally licensed gun dealer.”
That’s good for another chuckle. To possess a functional firearm, one would not need an FFL. But to possess a block or sheet of metal that cannot fire a round requires an FFL.
“The person maintains records for the unfinished firearm frame or receiver in accordance with the requirements for maintenance of records in 18 U.S.C. § 923.”
That machining threshold bites her in the nether fundament again. 18 U.S.C. § 923(g) specifies what can — and must — go into the bound book. It does not include unfinished frames/receivers with no more than 80% of the machining completed (per ATF guidance).
If FFLs list blocks and sheets of metal in their book, they’ll be violating 18 U.S.C. § 923, and I suspect the DOJ will want to have a heart-to-heart chat with Delaware’s governor; maybe Rep. Longhurst, too.
“Distributes by any means, including the internet, to a person who is not licensed as a manufacturer, instructions in the form of computer-aided design files…”
Welcome to the Crypto Wars: “the software shall not be considered or treated as ‘technology.'”
Rep. Longhurst, people have been making firearms for a good 900 years. That horse is out of the barn. The cat is out of the bag.
Much of the rest of her bill redundantly duplicates federal law. Undetectable firearms have been illegal for 31 years. “Covert” firearms have been heavily regulated for 86 years. While not outright illegal, they are taxed and registered, and require federal permission. But if she wants to dump the expense of prosecuting those cases on her own state courts, have a blast.
Does Delaware actually let Rep. Longhurst wander around without a