Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has issued a legal opinion that reportedly rules “80%” receivers and frames are now considered to be firearms.
Oh, no. As usual, it is much worse than that.
Any attempt to regulate something has to define that item…just so you’ll know what it is that’s being regulated. AG Shapiro has unilaterally defined “firearm” to take un-finished receivers and frames into account.
He began by looking at the current definition in Pennsylvania state law and found that it includes non-operational firearms that “may readily be restored.” But he was disappointed to discover no state case law defining what “may readily be restored” actually means.
Not to worry, though. Other jurisdictions have precedents defining what “may readily be converted” means. Shapiro considers that to be sufficiently analogous.
But that’s plainly wrong. Pennsylvania law speaks of something which once was a firearm, and could “readily be restored” into one again.
“Converted” is turning one thing into another thing. That’s not the same thing at all. Shapiro, however, is a government lawyer so semantics are whatever he wants them to be.
Now that Shapiro has found a close-enough-for-government-work precedent, he’s settled on a basic test for what “readily” converted means. His opinion takes these factors into account:
The apparent standard: can just anyone quickly and easily, with common tools and parts, and basic know-how make an inexpensive firearm that won’t blow up?
Even that definition is a little vague, though, so he had to set a threshold, below which a receiver is a firearm, and above which it isn’t.
To do that, he dusted off a 39-year-old precedent, United States v. Seven Misc. Firearms, 503 F. Supp, 565 (D.D.C. 1980).
In that case, the weapons were held not to be machine guns because it would have taken a master gunsmith (expertise) over 13 hours (time) working with specialized equipment (equipment), required parts that are not commonly available (availability), cost $65,000 to make the conversion, and the conversion could have damaged or destroyed the firearm as well as caused injury to the shooter upon firing.
Basically, Attorney General Shapiro decided that anything that requires less than 1) a master gunsmith, 2) 13+ hours, and 3) $65,000 to convert into a firearm is a firearm.
It looks like sheriffs across Pennsylvania are about to experience a deluge of new firearm dealer license applications. And that’s just with the plumbing example. Imagine everything else that could be “converted” by applying $65,000 and a few hours of work.
The required record keeping is going to be a nightmare for everyone including the Pennsylvania State Police.
An acquaintance noted that a better test of “readily converted” would be to hand Shapiro an 80% lower kit, drop him on a patch of cracked corn in southeast Georgia wild pig country and see what he can come up with.
That would also make a great pay-per-view event for cable television.