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Just days before the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the lawsuit challenging the Justice Department’s Final Rule on “ghost guns,” the Nevada Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling and upheld that state’s restrictions on “unfinished frames or receivers.”

In the case Sisolak v. Polymer80, Nevada’s highest court on April 18 voted unanimously to reverse the lower court ruling, which had found the law to be unconstitutionally vague.

“The district court … concluded that the definition did not explain key terms or notify ordinary individuals precisely when raw materials would become an unfinished frame or receiver,” Justice Lidia S. Stiglich wrote in the ruling. “The district court also concluded that the definition enabled arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. We disagree and reverse. The terms used to define ‘unfinished frame or receiver’ have ordinary meanings that provide sufficient notice of what the statutes proscribe, such that it cannot be said that vagueness pervades their texts.”

State Supreme Court justices also found that the law wouldn’t be overly complicated to enforce.

“We further conclude that the statutes are general intent statutes that do not lack a scienter requirement and do not pose a risk of arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement,” Judge Stiglich wrote. “The district court thus erred in declaring that the statutes are unconstitutionally vague and enjoining them.”

At issue was the language of the 2021 law that criminalized the possession, purchase, transport, receipt, sale and transfer of an “unfinished frame or receiver.” The language of the law defines an “unfinished frame or receiver” as: “a casting or a machined body that is intended to be turned into the frame or lower receiver of a firearm with additional machining and which has been formed or machined to the point at which most of the major machining operations have been completed to turn the blank, casting or machined body into a frame or lower receiver of a firearm even if the fire-control cavity area of the blank, casting or machined body is still completely solid and unmachined.”

The plaintiff in the original case, Polymer80, challenged the law, arguing that the language was unconstitutionally vague. And a Nevada district court agreed, citing three key points: the law does not specifically define blank, casting, machined body, frame or lower receiver, major machining operations and fire-control cavity area; the definition does not make clear precisely when a raw material becomes a prohibited unfinished frame or receiver; and the statues lack a scienter requirement.

In the end, however, the Supreme Court disagreed with that assessment.

“The district court erred in declaring that the definition of ‘unfinished frame or receiver’ in NRS 202.253(9) is unconstitutionally vague and in enjoining the enforcement of NRS 202.3625 and NRS 202.363,” Judge Stiglich concluded. “Given that the definition employs terms ascertainable by their ordinary meanings and that align with trade and industry usage, we conclude it is not vague.”

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    • A bunch of gasbags in robes being led by Gun Control nazis to believe waving a wand over an 80% is all it takes to go rob a 7-11. Everyone of the gasbags should be given a kit to take home and finish to a working reliable firearm. That way they can live in the real world which is quite the opposite of those who criminally misuse anything they can get their hands on. The Criminal does something wrong and the law-abiding surrenders their rights? Whose thinking is more insane the criminals who cannot tie their shoes or gasbags in robes who I highly doubt one could complete an 80%?

    • Nevada justices are idiots. A 3″x12″x6″ block of aluminum from a mill could be an unfinished frame. The latest ghost gunner, can machine an entire lower receiver from a solid block of aluminum. With this law, anything at all, could be an unfinished lower receiver.

  1. Somebody, in Nevada, with the time should sue Home Depot for selling unfinished receivers (pipes, pipe caps, screws). If the state wants to uphold their law, make them actually enforce it.

  2. Just heard my favorite(at one time!) gun shop Blythes in Griffith & Valporaiso,Indiana closed their doors. They were bought by Mormon’s out of Utah a while ago who ran it like crap & quit selling gats to Illinois residents 2 years ago. I bought 9 gats there & mucho ammo & other stuff. Did the feds harass them? Dunno but Westforth in Gary closed last year supposedly to retire but Chiraq had a suit against them. The main reason I ever bought gats in Indiana was price even with transfer. I do remember telling Indiana folk’s not to invest heavily in pistol braces. Boy told me I was crazy. So goes yer ghost gun!🙄

  3. Gee and to think when I was young you could order a gunm from Sears&Roebuck. Until the SeaEyeA shot JFK and you couldn’t buy gunms through the mail anymore.

    • Cloudbuster,

      I believe that we can understand and apply this Nevada law the same way that the courts understand p0rn0graphy to be p0rn0grahy: there is a famous quote where a Justice was hard pressed to define it and stated that he knows it when he sees it. I believe unfinished receivers are in the same vein.

      Everyone can agree that a simple block of aluminum or polymer (regardless of its dimensions) is most certainly NOT a firearm receiver. Now, take that same block of aluminum and apply multiple machining operations until a reasonably informed person can recognize it as a firearm receiver and we have probably exceeded the “mostly” (e.g. 51%) threshold.

      And we can extend the simple notion above to alternate methods of making firearms such as using sheet metal to make AK-47s and steel pipes to make shotguns.

      Nevertheless, as I stated in my comment below, the vagueness-versus-clarity of Nevada’s law is a moot point since the law is simple unconstitutional on its face for banning an entire class of firearms which are neither “unusual” nor “dangerous” as stated in the Heller decision.

  4. In my humble opinion Nevada’s law reads pretty clear to me and is therefore not vague (again in my humble opinion). Nevada’s law simply bans 51% (or greater) receivers. I suppose that someone could try to argue whether or not a receiver is 49% finished or 51% finished.

    At any rate Nevada’s law is simply unconstitutional on its face since it bans an entire class of firearms (which are neither “unusal” nor “dangerous” as mentioned in the Heller decision) and I wish that Polymer80 would have argued on those grounds–especially now that the Bruen decision puts Polymer80 on much more solid legal ground.

    Assuming that Polymer80 started their lawsuit before Bruen, can Polymer80 resurrect this lawsuit or file a new lawsuit in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision?

    • “…file a new lawsuit…”

      And the Nevada gun controllers will say, sure file another lawsuit. We’ll spend more of your tax dollars defending it! AND, if it gets thrown out, we’ll pass another one that does the same thing but with different words! Neener neener!

      My dad had no more than a high school education, but he could cuss someone or something for 10 minutes straight, without repeating himself and without profanity. It was highly entertaining to watch, from a side view. If he was still alive, and had the chance to get some of these lawmakers and judges together in a room, it would be educational.

    • “Nevada’s law simply bans 51% (or greater) receivers.”


      As determined by who, exactly? The same folks who have a vested interest in denying the people the right to keep and bear arm?

      You got it, not me… 🙁

      • Geoff PR,

        On the off chance that my comment reads like I support Nevada’s law: I most certainly do NOT. (Note my second paragraph where I state that Nevada’s law is unconstitutional on its face.)

        What I am saying is that the law isn’t automatically vague in my opinion. The law clearly does not allow for a prosecutor to prosecute someone for selling or buying a block of material, a sheet of metal, or a pipe. And note that I also allowed for some discussion about what constitutes a receiver being 51% finished (51% presumably covering the “mostly” terminnology) versus only 49%.

  5. I see the term used here all the time and never has anyone asked for a definition of what they meant by “unfinished receiver”.

    Why? You people already know what you mean by the term. Thats common parlance. Guess what? Polymer80 knew that too.

    • So is a 0% lower an unfinished receiver or a block of aluminum from the mill?

      The point is…

      An “unfinished receiver” could be anything. And that’s ripe for abuse by law enforcement.

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