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 rifle 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 . . .