On May 13th The Washington Post ran a story expressing shock that Americans can buy parts to build their own guns – especially “unfinished receivers” for AR-15s. They even reached out to the ATF for comment on how this allows gun owners to circumvent firearm laws.
According to The Washington Post, “the sale of unfinished receivers, also called ‘blanks’ or ’80 percent lower receivers,’ is one of the most daunting challenges for law enforcement charged with enforcing firearms regulations.”
The Post views it as daunting because such parts can be purchased from certain physical or online gun stores without leaving a registration/paper trail as would purchase of a full firearm. Moreover, buying and selling them is legal.
The Post spoke to the ATF about the sales:
ATF officials say gun enthusiasts are effectively exploiting a loophole in the law designed to regulate firearms. Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, it is illegal for an unlicensed person to make a firearm for sale or distribution. Vendors, however, say that because the receivers are not finished, they are not firearms and therefore are legal to sale and distribute.
Former Marine Dimitri Karras sells “unfinished receivers” online and out of his Oceanside, California, store. He says, “It is absolutely the right of every American to defend themselves and to keep and bear arms.” He believes his receivers provide “a channel for them to do that.”
The Washington Post and the ATF were less enthusiastic. The Post reports that the ATF raided his store in March, seizing 6,000 unfinished receivers that “too closely resembled” finished ones. Amid a legal battle to have them returned, says the Post, Karras is “still in business, selling [unfinished receivers] and thumbing his nose at the government.”
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