Under Pennsylvania’s New 80% Lower Standard, Virtually Anything Can Now be Defined as a Gun

Josh Shapiro

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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:

  • Time
  • Ease
  • Expertise
  • Equipment
  • Availability
  • Expense
  • Feasibility

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.

According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s new standard, this is now a firearm. (Photo: Carl Bussjaeger)

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.

comments

  1. avatar M1Lou says:

    This is what you get when people with the mental capacity of a child get into power.

    1. avatar Lost Down South says:

      You are insulting children.

      “Changing this classification will not hurt legal, responsible gun owners. This change will stop criminals, it will stop terrorists, and other lawless people who can’t pass a background check from acquiring a gun through a loophole that should never have existed in the first place,” says Governor Tom Wolf.

      It’s a darn good thing that this will stop criminals, terrorists, and lawless people. Geez, I was worried. FINALLY a law that will stop lawless people. THIS ONE FOR SURE!

      1. avatar Rincoln says:

        If they’d just pass a law that it’s illegal to break the law, then no crime would ever happen. COMMON SENSE, PEOPLE!!!

        1. avatar Matt(TX) says:

          I swear, the first thing I tried to do was upvote you! HAHA!

      2. avatar StLPro2A says:

        A politician with a law never stops a bad guy with a gun. He only controls the good guys, which is his true agenda.
        The bad guy with a gun…..
        or the mentally deficient guy with a gun……
        or the terribly distraught family member of a gun shooting victim…….
        or the Feelz-Gooder Social Do-Gooder…..are the politician’s Useful Idiot Tools to achieve his agenda.

    2. avatar JohnF says:

      If they have the mental capacity of a child, why do they keep getting in office and keep being successful at infringing on the RTKABA? And if gun owners are so much smarter, why do we keep losing our rights? You can say it’s because the voters are stupid, but we are the voters too. It’s time to stop underestimating the enemy. They are smart, they are organized and they are well funded. Keep thinking of them as idiots and they will keep winning.

      1. avatar Exring says:

        You have hit the nail on the head. WE MUST STOP GIVING THESE “criminals” a pass by referring to them as “STUPID”, “LACKING UNDERSTANDING” or ACTING LIKE CHILDREN. They are evil, calculating, murdering thieves and Confidence People (I say that because they keep lying to the electorate and keep being elected). Cut none of them slack, they are complicit!

  2. avatar million says:

    “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 is gold

    1. avatar FormerParatrooper says:

      That’s just plain cruel, why traumatize pigs like that?

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        That would depend on the altitude from which you dropped him.

        1. avatar BoG 2.0 says:

          “That would depend on the altitude from which you dropped him.”

          I would think no matter how high the altitude, the pigs would still be traumatized.

  3. avatar Prndll says:

    lol
    They are all just making things up willy nilly. It’s what ever their spirit moves them to do. They just think it up and do it. Even if it doesn’t make sense.

    It is obvious that no one adheres to the law anymore. Law makers just do whatever they want regardless of what federal law is or what is law-of-the-land constitutional.

    What we are witnessing is utter chaos on the verge of becoming anarchy. It isn’t just gangs and street thugs. Its our elected leaders….federal, state, and local.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      they’ve been doing it for years when it comes to sec. 908….[prohibited offensive weapons]…all it takes…apparently…is an attorney general’s opinion….

    2. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “They are all just making things up willy nilly.”

      No, they’re not!

      There was once a court case, where a judge said (and I shit you not) “I’ll know it when I see it.”

      (Now, that ‘good ole boy was referencing pornography, but the same logic applies here.)

      In other words, according to them, we can trust them to decide that for us…

      1. avatar Stuck in NJ says:

        Here’s an example that would fool this Attorney General and most other ignorant anti-gun politicians (I know, I’m being redundant) who say about defining guns, “I’ll know it when I see it.”
        To them, this is not only a gun, it’s an “assault weapon!”

        https://petapixel.com/2014/09/17/canon-m4-d-mark-ii-tactical-assault-camera-isnt-good-street-photography/

        Politicians will be screaming for this to be banned!
        But in reality, it’s just a camera.

        1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

          Send me $65,000 and give me 13 hours and I’ll make it shoot more than video.

          *I’m not a master gunsmith.

    3. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Even the BATF description of a receiver does not fit a lower receiver for an A R.

      1. avatar Steven says:

        Oh, not this bullshit again. The ATF definition does mention containing the fire control group and hammer as part of the definition. The question of whether that is sufficient on its own to define a receiver is one of those points of law where an Oxford comma makes all the difference in the world. The ATF has been operating for more than half a century, at least, on the presumption that the FCG is enough to define the receiver so any forthcoming court decisions on the matter are very likely to rest upon that precedent.

        Do you also think that a M1911 frame (as well as that of most pistols ever made) isn’t defined as a firearm because it doesn’t contain the barrel or bolt/breechface, either?

        1. avatar BoG 2.0 says:

          “Do you also think that a M1911 frame (as well as that of most pistols ever made) isn’t defined as a firearm because it doesn’t contain the barrel or bolt/breechface, either?”

          If I give you an M1911 frame, sans barrel or bolt/breechface, you’re telling me you could use it as a firearm? Hell, I’ll even spot you the round. Wanna rethink your position, your example or your whole argument? You’re actually proving Ed’s argument re: what does and doesn’t constitute a firearm. That whole “I’ll know it when I see it” lie.

        2. avatar Steven says:

          The issue is that at some point, one part of a firearm must be designated as the regulated component that carries the serial number. For fifty years, no one questioned why the AR15 lower receiver was so designated (using the exact same logic that made the frame of the M1911 the regulated part another fifty years earlier than that). Then, some shithouse lawyer began arguing that a missing comma completely changed the meaning of the law.

          No one is saying that a stripped receiver is capable of shooting bullets, any more than anyone is saying that the VIN plate on a windshield frame constitutes a drivable automobile. But that is where the serial number happens to be located and therefore the part that ATF regulates as the firearm.

  4. Whatever! DON’T vote for these @$$wholes! Recall THEM! Throw THEM out of office! Storm the ramparts!

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      11 counties in PA tell the rest who the gov will be. Senators too.

      1. avatar Etaoinshrdlu says:

        Well, yes. If RBG ever shuffles off this mortal coil,
        and if we get another solidly conservative justice on the SCOTUS,
        he and his expansive, overly vague law will be overturned.
        But in the meantime, two things…
        first, big metro areas should not be able to forever hold better-governed counties in subjection.
        there’s already (1) discussion of counties being enabled to vote themselves out (secession) of oppressive, corrupt metropolitan hells, becoming a new state.
        What if…(2) counties adjoining another state could, by, say, a super-majority plebiscite, conditionally secede in favor of being admitted into the other state, and upon simple majority vote of the other state’s legislature immediately be admitted. WIN-WIN!
        It would take a constitutional amendment I suppose.

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          As I understand it, it will take the acquiescence of the state losing the territory to pull off. No Leftist-controlled dystopia will ever lay down for that…

  5. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    Wait for the law suits. FOAC and others are on this.

    GOA and FOAC are acting on the sanctuary movement here. A standard ordinance is being formulated and efforts are underway in several counties.

    If you are in PA and want to work on this contact GOA or FOAC and they will help you or put you in touch if someone is already on it in your county.

    We are not going to go quietly in Pennsylvania.

    1. avatar JB says:

      Here is the link to GOA in regards to the PA sanctuary stuff. There is a contact link towards the bottom of the text.

      https://gunowners.org/pa-saso/

  6. avatar HEGEMON says:

    Because the establishment and elites fear our freedoms. Their power relies heavily on the ignorant and the gullible.

    1. avatar David McNally says:

      Those in power, who seek to infringe upon our freedoms, won’t “get it” until they do.

  7. avatar million says:

    i blame the police commissioner. ask stupid questions, get stupid answers. in this case, he asked Shapiro who very obviously has zero experience with firearms what constitutes a firearm. and Shapiro said, in so much legalese, a pipe because he’s gun illiterate.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      I’d wager that he is not just gun illiterate but manufactured object illiterate. This guy is a lawyer and has probably never spent so much as a day in a shop making anything. His time, expertise, etc. test is ludicrous. In essence, it makes not just the object an issue but the person. I am by no means a master gunsmith but I am an engineer, I own or have access to a number of machine tools, I can read a set of plans and, given the right materials, I could build whatever the heck I want. Must I now be serialized and registered. (Yes, that is probably their ultimate goal.)

  8. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    As I’ve said before, this whole hype over the magical Elven line of 80% is a farce. If the ATF somehow succeeds in redefining a block of polymer or aluminum in the super-evil status of 80% as a “gun”, then the industry will simply move the goalposts a little bit to compensate. Probably add one more hole to drill and call it a 75% lower.

    Dog chases tail, and we all laugh for the entertainment.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      There are now entry-level desktop CNC devices that can finish an AR 80-percent lower into a fully functional receiver, for about 1,500 USD.

      In less than 10 years, that same CNC will be able to do the same with a raw block of aluminum created by a simple porch or backyard propane-fired furnace melting trashed aluminum cans poured into a sand mold.

      What are they gonna do then? Probably regulate the pressure-bearing components of guns, like barrels and bolts. Since gun-quality steel is available everywhere, they will be forced to regulate deep drills and chamber reamers. But since those can be made in a home shop as well, they are gonna start having *problems* regulating guns… 🙂

      1. avatar dph says:

        For less than 1/3 of that you can can mill an 80% out that rivals 100% lowers using a router and a steady hand. https://www.5dtactical.com/multiplatform-80-lower-jig-p/5d-pmj.htm

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Done that. Multiple times, as have my buddies. Good stuff. Highly recommend the 5D jig.

      2. avatar R.Corrino says:

        Look at what they are doing here in. Alifornia now. Precursor parts have to go through FFLs. Even something like a red dot sight will have to pass a NICS check and probably even a waiting list

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Only parts that connect directly to the registered receiver/frame.

          Although, the language of the bill seems to be evolving, so who knows how it will end up. In any case, it doesn’t take effect until at least 2025.

  9. avatar RGP says:

    For $65,000 you can make one out of a solid block of steel.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      You could make 3.

      1. avatar RGP says:

        This is business. Making more than one at the low, low price of $65,000 cuts into the profit.

  10. avatar Invincible Russian God of War says:

    Nazi democrat still can’t get over their loss in the last war. You lost like your idol hillary. When you lose next time you will be sent to uranium mine.

  11. avatar Phil Wilson says:

    Selective enforcement. Under that standard they could bust anyone they don’t like if they have a piece of pipe in their basement.

    This is why Soros has been investing heavily in buying AGs. Why bother buying a bunch of legislators if one person can just make the law anything they want it to be? Anyway, Kathleen Kane ended up in prison, so Soros just bought another one.

    1. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      Exactly. The real purpose of laws or “legal interpretations” like this is to turn people who own guns into criminals.

  12. avatar GS650G says:

    They will enforce these laws with vigor and hand out vicious penalties while the criminals gert plea deals. Illegals have nothing to fear from these people either

  13. avatar Phil LA says:

    Today its a “common-sense” precedent that includes a laughable result. 39 years from now somebody goes to jail because of a strictly technical interpretation of this forgotten and never-referenced law. Then everybody becomes aware and, whether legal or not, the result is validated. It seems like these stories are released every day.

    The road to hell (or tyranny) is paved with good intentions.

    1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

      “The road to hell (or tyranny) is paved with good intentions”

      Personally, I’m not willing to give them the benefit of a doubt on the intentions. The very kindest interpretation I can see is that they know the policies won’t work for the stated purposes, they are fine with doing it to score political points with supporters. It gets darker from there.

  14. avatar Heywood says:

    So a trash bag full of aluminum cans that can be melted down,
    cast into a block and machined could be considered a gun in PA?

    https://www.full30.com/watch/MDE5NTA3/making-an-ar15-from-beer-cans-main-video-guncraft101

  15. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and this asshole should keep his to himself…

  16. avatar Rickster says:

    Where do these cooks come from ? Lawyer , cartoon law maker more like .

  17. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    Shapiro is a tyrant in training. A clever lawyer that should get slapped down by SCOTUS.

  18. avatar matt says:

    communism never sleeps which is why we have to be ever vigilant

  19. avatar Wiregrass says:

    Paying attention to what is happening in Virginia because it’s looking like we’re next in Pennsylvania.

  20. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Wait till he figures out that any shovel is a potential AK-47. Or for that matter that the side of his PC case is an AK-47. Or perhaps that the chain link fence posts that line his property are all STENs.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      This says nothing of the spool of PLA or ABS I have sitting here. The machine was under $300! I’ve seen stuff for ARs, SD9VEs, Hi-Points and 10/22s. Welcome to the future pal.

  21. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    We need a constitutional amendment that states any law that cannot be deliberately complied with cannot be enforced and that an earnest attempt to deliberately comply with a law shall grant immunity from prosecution under that law.

    And maybe clarify that ignorance of the law not being a valid defense only applies to willful ignorance, and does not apply to simple lack of knowledge, especially when due diligence has been given to understand and know the law.

    Oh, and that a legal code being too long, confusing, and even contradictory IS a valid kerbal defense.

  22. avatar Possum and the Coons of Doom says:

    That’s nuaught ah Nife, this is ah Nigh,,,,err No this is a gunm, it was a Knife…? And a friendly reminder from the Possum. Please obey all laws. To do otherwise youu risk becoming a Felon and lose your constitutional rights. Wouldn’t you rather turn in your gunms than become a felon who can not process a gunm. I know I sure wood

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      We all know you Possums have all kinds of ‘stuff’ in those nasty, wet burrows you live in down by the ditch… 🙂

  23. avatar Someone says:

    No I am not. History knows not what political side that an individual takes in todays world.

    These are FACTS and ABSOLUTE HISTORY. YOU are someone that wants to remain willfully ignorant and that is the worst kind of stupid.

  24. avatar guy says:

    No not in Pa, first the rggi tax and now this you know I used to like Wolf. I knew this would happen sooner or later I knew some real $h!t heads back in the day and let me tell you not one a the guns they had came from 80% lowers. Not one of those guys even owned a drill hell they didnt even know what a router was it’s just more hey look were getting rid a the black rifle stuff guys look at us ohhhh were so progressive and saving lives.

  25. avatar Reggie Brian says:

    This seems to mean that I have a cigar box that is a “firearm”.

    By spending less than a grand, I can make it shoot 9mm bullets. (I can buy a G17 and put it in the box.)

  26. avatar DaveL says:

    If I paid a master gunsmith $65k to modify an existing gun, with access to all the proper parts and equipment, and the resulting weapon was liable to blow up in my face, I’d be very seriously put out.

  27. avatar Adam says:

    On the bright side, all PA residents can now make bank at the next gun “buyback” with all of their spare plumbing parts

  28. avatar Someone says:

    It speaks volumes when a few people start with facts and they are all erased. If you do NOT heed history, you WILL see your gun confiscations.
    Enjoy the willful ignorance. Ignorance will be many’s demise.

    https://www.biblebelievers.org.au/expelled.htm

  29. avatar Rob Doar says:

    Shapiro should get slapped down by Scotus. He is cruel in training.

  30. avatar BoG 2.0 says:

    “Then, some shithouse lawyer began arguing that a missing comma completely changed the meaning of the law.”

    Agreed. The M1911 frame houses the FCG (even if it’s not in a modular package) just as the AR lower does and therefore, in the ATF’s mind it’s the obvious choice. Of course the ATF is unconstitutional so there’s that…

  31. avatar Ghost Who Walks says:

    Shapiro. Why do so many Jews have the gas chamber mentality?

  32. avatar B says:

    Every.Single.Time.

  33. avatar Kaiser says:

    There is no voting your way out of this. There is no arguing the finer points of so called law. They will not stop ever. You know what must be done.

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