By Zachary Hayes
Secretary of State John Kerry initially said the White House would sign a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty approved by the General Assembly on April 2. The treaty would have effectively rendered the Second Amendment null and void. The U.S. Senate, which would have to ratify the treaty for it to become law, preemptively voted 53-46 against it in March, while the House voted unanimously in June not to fund implementation. The assault on gun rights in the United States is far from over, particularly when it comes to automatic rifles . . .
The Senate defeated a bill in April that would have not only banned so-called “assault rifles,” but also limited the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds. But few Americans, even those who consider themselves firearms enthusiasts, are aware of some of the more arcane laws as they pertain to semi-automatic rifles. Any American can purchase just about any rifle they please—including AK-47s, AR-15s and M16s—without any paperwork or background checks. The caveat: you have to construct it yourself.
What The ATF Says
An unlicensed person, pursuant to the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, can make any gun for personal use, but not for distribution or sale, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The import of “military-style firearms” was first banned in 1989, but parts kits have been legal, well forever. The caveat is that you can’t utilize more than 10 imported parts, including the receiver (frame), to construct a rifle, pursuant to Section 922(r) of the GCA.
It’s relatively easy to find gun kits online with a simple web search. In fact, 25 percent of semi-automatic rifles were purchased online in 2010, according to a poll by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Many rifle owners (36 percent) said personal protection is the main reason for their purchases, while 58 percent cited hunting and target shooting. Beginning hunters can’t only find a Remington 783 kit online for half the price of the constructed rifle, but can also take classes on safety education at sites like huntercourse.com to fully prepare themselves for the sport. Despite all the attention being given to mass shooters and the firearms they use, rifles remain a fundamental right for protection and sport in America.
How To Construct Your Rifle
For noobs, though, building a rifle from scratch can be daunting. This is where the relatively new phenomenon of “build parties” comes into play. Gun owners across the country who have purchased parts kits are getting together for some barbeque, beer and assistance with building their new rifles.
Most of these parties are arranged in online gun forums, while others are organized by local gun rights groups. Gene Hoffman of the Calguns Foundation, told msn.com that the parties are knowledge-sharing get-togethers that feature blow torches, welding and sawing. An AR-15, which until recently was difficult to find for a reasonable price, is pretty easy to construct if you have the knowledge and equipment, Hoffman said.
The GCA requires all firearms that are manufactured for sale to have a serial number. But your newly-constructed rifle, built for personal use, is perfectly legal without one as long as you do not sell it. Federal law didn’t require serial numbers at all prior to 1968, so many older firearms do not have them either.
If you’re worried about being questioned by police, rangers or other authorities, you may encounter while using your rifle, you can carry the receipts for your parts kit as proof of build. But telling an officer who’s at all familiar with the law that you built the rifle yourself for personal use should suffice. As always, while federal law supersedes state law, it behooves new rifle owners to familiarize themselves with local ordinances as well.