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Thread: Melson Brings ATF into Compliance with Supreme Court Ruling

  1. #1
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    Melson Brings ATF into Compliance with Supreme Court Ruling

    6 August, 2011:

    In a surprise ruling issued on 25 July, 2011, acting director Kenneth Melson changed nearly 20 years of BATFE policy to bring the agency rules into compliance with a 1992 Supreme Court decision on the legal conversion of pistols to rifles and back again.

    To understand the ruling, it is necessary to go back to the legislative history of the National Firearms Act of 1934, which was the first federal gun control law to be ruled as constitutional in the infamous Miller decision.

    In the original version of the 1934 law promoted by the Franklin Roosevelt administration, it would have been illegal to own a handgun without a federal license. That provision was defeated in the House of Representatives.

    Because requiring handguns to be licensed would have been meaningless when any person could take a shotgun or a rifle and a hacksaw, and end up with the functional equivalent of a handgun in a few minutes, the original law had made it illegal to possess a short barreled rifle or shotgun. With the handgun licensing scheme removed from the law, the prohibition on short barreled rifles or shotguns made no sense, but as few people owned short barreled rifles or shotguns, the law passed with that provision.

    This led to the silly situation where it was legal to own a 15 shot 10mm handgun, legal to own a full sized rifle, legal to own a handgun with a 15 inch barrel, but not legal to own a single shot .22 rifle with a 15 inch barrel.

    Thompson Contender makes rifles and handguns. Thompson wanted to sell a kit with a Thompson single shot handgun, a shoulder stock, and a 21 inch barrel. It is legal to own a Thompson handgun and legal to own a Thompson rifle with a 21 inch barrel. BATFE argued that possession of the kit was illegal because, in effect, the owner “owned” a short barreled rifle, because the shoulder stock could be installed on the receiver with a barrel less than 16 inches.

    The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where in 1992, the Court ruled that it was not illegal to merely posses the kit as long as the short barrel and the stock were not installed on the frame at the same time.

    The BATFE then interpreted the Supreme Court ruling to mean that the decision only applied to kits, and not to people who put together their own kit by buying a barrel over 16 inches and a stock to make a legal pistol into a legal rifle. Those people could convert the pistol to a rifle, but they could not legally convert the rifle back to a pistol!

    At least that was the interpretation until 25 July, 2011, when Acting Director Melson applied some common sense and brought the BATFE administrative rulings into line with the 1992 Supreme Court ruling.

    This does not change the absurd law that makes it illegal to own a short barreled shotgun or rifle without paying a federal tax and applying for federal permission complete with fingerprints and a signed letter from your local sheriff.

    While you can convert a pistol to a rifle and back again without federal permission, you cannot simply add a shoulder stock to your pistol. That would be a short barreled rifle, which you must have a federal tax stamp and federal permission to own.

    In addition, you may not make a pistol from a rifle, even though you can make a rifle from a pistol and convert it back. If it sounds like Alice in Wonderland, blame the anti-freedom forces who have been trying to leverage laws passed by gangsters that required the licensing of pistols in New York into federal laws that could be used to disarm all of us.



    http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/zimring68.htm



    http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/tc.html


    http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulin...ing-2011-4.pdf


    http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/i.../t-350377.html

    Dean Weingarten

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    Well, its a start

    The best of all outcomes would be to have the BATFE disbanded and its responsibilities eliminated (rather than handed off to another acronym) this is a move in the right direction. Maybe when more information comes pouring out from Gunwalker/F&F we can get most of the abuses reversed.

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    Exposure of the utter stupidity of the short barreled rifle and shotgun ban

    Quote Originally Posted by ldsgeek View Post
    The best of all outcomes would be to have the BATFE disbanded and its responsibilities eliminated (rather than handed off to another acronym) this is a move in the right direction. Maybe when more information comes pouring out from Gunwalker/F&F we can get most of the abuses reversed.
    With the Supreme Court rulings in Heller and McDonald, the utter silliness of the short barrelled rifle and shotgun ban becomes obvious. When the right to have a loaded pistol in your home for self defense has been recognized as a fundamental, constitutional right by the highest court in the land, and incorporated to the States by the 14th amendment, what possible reason is there for a law that makes it a federal felony to possess a short barreled rifle or shotgun without a federal tax stamp that costs more than the firearm?

    There is no defense for such a law. The only reason it is still in place is that most people do not know about it, and the anti-freedom forces want to keep it inplace to reinforce their dream of national firearm registration. It doesn't even make sense for that anymore, since they are far beyond the desire to only register handguns.
    Last edited by ccwinstructor; 08-07-2011 at 02:20 PM. Reason: typo correction

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    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    This could be the end of short barrelled rifles and pistol prohibitions because of the no useful purpose clause in the ATF ruling. If a militia purpose was put forward, it could prove interesting. In 1939 SCOTUS accepted the fiction that there was no militia purpose because the US Govt. was unopposed in the supreme court case.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come …………. PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    So let me see if I understand this...

    If I buy an AR-15 pistol, I can legally put an 18" upper and full butt stock on it, converting it to a rifle, and then put the original upper back on and take the butt stock off it to change it back to it's original pistol platform...

    But if I buy an 18" AR, I can NOT buy an 8" upper and take the buttstock off to make it a pistol without registering it as being a "pistol build"?

    Yeah, THAT makes all kinds of sense...
    Last edited by Dreamer; 08-12-2011 at 02:40 PM.
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

  6. #6
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    You are correct. The law is absurd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
    So let me see if I understand this...

    If I buy an AR-15 pistol, I can legally put an 18" upper and full butt stock on it, converting it to a rifle, and then put the original upper back on and take the butt stock off it to change it back to it's original pistol platform...

    But if I buy an 18" AR, I can NOT buy an 8" upper and take the buttstock off to make it a pistol without registering it as being a "pistol build"?

    Yeah, THAT makes all kinds of sense...
    It is our job to point out the absurdity. We can work to have the law changed. It no longer makes any sense at all.

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