Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ghost Gun

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gun control

Two years ago I wrote about an idiot politician publicly making a fool of himself at his own scripted press conference. The politician was California State Sen. Kevin de León, and his topic was “Ghost Guns.” The press conference was to publicize de León’s latest gun control bill, a proposal to require anyone making a gun in his or her garage to register it with the state Department of Justice and engrave a DOJ-supplied serial number on the gun. His primary justification for this proposal was that a mentally disturbed young man who had been denied purchase of a firearm had subsequently manufactured a firearm from purchased parts and fabricated components, and used that homemade gun to murder several people before committing suicide.

As disturbing and compelling as that story might be, de León’s “solution” was absolutely laughable. Could he possibly believe that his law would have prevented this tragedy? Is it remotely conceivable that this disturbed young man, having been turned down for a firearm purchase at a dealer based on his mental history, would have then requested permission from the DOJ to construct a gun from parts in his bedroom?

As idiotic as that idea is, de León’s manic performance at the press conference overshadowed any obvious flaws in his reasoning. Along with repeated mispronunciations and misapplication of words, de León consistently conflated “detectability” with “traceability” as he tried to demonize both homemade 3D-printed guns and homemade guns manufactured with more traditional machining methods. But the money shot came when de León explained the awesome firepower of one of his prop “Ghost Guns.” Holding up one of the guns, de León declared;

“This is a ghost gun. This right here has the ability, with a .30 caliber clip, to disperse with 30 bullets within half a second.” He then reiterated, to drive home the point, “Thirty magazine clip in half a second.”

The reason I bring up this 2-year-old news conference now is that Sen. de León, this stellar example of a politician whose only apparent noteworthy skill is that of being elected, is now, along with being one of the most rabid – if poorly informed – proponents of radical gun control, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the highest ranking and most powerful role in the California Legislature.

This is as irrational and inexplicable as the elevation of “Groping Joe” Biden to the office of vice president. At least Biden serves the security function of being a deterrent to anyone considering assassination of the president. Sen. de León doesn’t even have that going for him. What he does have is good looks and impeccable Spanish. He’s probably also really good at remembering names and asking for money, and he is an extreme radical on a variety of political topics. An avowed “liberal progressive” and Hillary Clinton supporter, de León is a champion of massive restrictions on carbon emissions, a tireless advocate for citizenship rights and benefits for immigrants illegally in the country, and a supporter of the environmental policies that mandated diverting millions of metric tons of water from reservoirs and farmers in favor of an ineffective effort to improve habitat for a subspecies of smelt, resulting in the current severe water shortage. He is also a vocal advocate of additional restrictions on tobacco smokers, additional rights for marijuana smokers and a strong proponent of raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. That the people of California and their elected representatives would, during a time of economic struggle and budget challenges, when the state is effectively beyond broke, select such a radical destroyer to lead their Senate is beyond comprehension.

In May, de León helped to push through yet another round of gun control tightening in the state, on top of some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Included in the package is a blanket ban on possession of any magazine capable of holding over 10 rounds. Unlike the current law, which forbids the sale of such magazines, this law criminalizes possession, requiring that all existing magazines of greater than 10-round capacity be sold, destroyed, or surrendered without compensation.

Tell me again that confiscation is not the eventual objective of gun control.

Another bill in the package passed by the Senate requires a background check and record-keeping for ammunition purchases. This is probably the most sinister in the group because it not only adds complication and expense to a protected constitutional right, but by retaining records of ammunition purchases it creates a de facto gun owner registration system. You can be sure that de León and his ilk would use this information to further harass gun owners.

The rest of the package includes de León’s “Ghost Gun” registration bill, a bill banning so-called “bullet button” magazine systems – effectively outlawing numerous currently legal rifles – a bill that makes the victim of a firearm theft a criminal if they fail to report the theft in what some bureaucrat considers a timely manner, a bill that makes simply loaning a gun to a friend or even a family member in most cases, a criminal offense, a technical correction that moves theft of a firearm back up to felony status, and a bill creating a Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California.

The whole package is designed to compete with an even worse ballot initiative Lt. Gov. (and gubernatorial candidate) Gavin Newsom is championing. The gun control package is now in the hands of the State Assembly where even more gun control legislation is already pending.

We should probably be grateful to California’s gun control zealots for proving that control freaks are never satisfied. No matter how many laws they pass, they will always come back for more. We in the rest of the country need to recognize the warning and understand that gun control is back on the front burner as a political issue. We must mobilize to shut this nonsense down.

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Ghost Gun Guy
Look for this guy for help finishing your Ghost Gun.

As the federal law stands, individuals may legally manufacture certain types of firearms without needing to register as a firearms manufacturer. The caveat is that the individual who made the firearm may not be transfer or sale it.

Here’s the word from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (all of the fun stuff):

“Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the GCA provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms.”

Of course as with any government regulation, there are few more rules, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll steer clear of the complexity.

While some non-sporting Americans may picture the home manufacturing of firearms as a gruff old man in his backyard with a kiln and hammer, pounding out some rudimentary rifle – the process isn’t too complex, especially if finishing an Ar-15.

Adventurous firearms enthusiasts who have a DIY streak can log on to a number of sites at this moment and purchase what’s called an “80% lower” – you can even get a five pack if you’re feeling lucky.

The 80% lower is the lower receiver of an AR-15 that’s literally 80% complete. To take it up to 100%, you need a bit of machining skill and the self-confidence not to mess it up.

The most important part of the lower receiver is that it is what the ATF considers the actual firearm. It’s the part that must be serialized . . . if produced by a firearm’s manufacturer.

For the handy guy or gal, with the right tools, AR-15’s and other firearm types such as 1911’s can be completed in a garage with no serial numbers or any other type of government-required marks – or tracking, hence the name “Ghost Gun.”

For others who struggle to change their own oil or have to call Roadside Assistance when a wiper-blade goes bad, the ability to finish your own AR-15 was still attainable if they had a bit of help from a gunsmith or CNC shop.

Well . . . up until the ATF published their first new rule of the year, ATF 2015-1.

The new rule specifically prohibits any company or individual with manufacturing capabilities and tools (including a 3d Printer) from giving a hand to the less handy want-to-be Ghost Gunners.

Here is the exact ruling from the ATF that prevents unlicensed gunsmiths from completing Ghost Guns for customers:

Held, any person (including any corporation or other legal entity) engaged in the business of performing machining, molding, casting, forging, printing (additive manufacturing) or other manufacturing process to create a firearm frame or receiver, or to make a frame or receiver suitable for use as part of a “weapon … which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive,” i.e., a “firearm,” must be licensed as a manufacturer under the GCA; identify (mark) any such firearm; and maintain required manufacturer’s records.

Taking it even further, the ATF put restrictions of companies that possess equipment that could be used to complete a Ghost Gun:

Held further, a business (including an association or society) may not avoid the
manufacturing license, marking, and recordkeeping requirements of the GCA by allowing persons to perform manufacturing processes on blanks or incomplete firearms (including frames or receivers) using machinery, tools, or equipment under its dominion and control where that business controls access to, and use of, such machinery, tools, or equipment.

The above is targeting “build parties” where a group of people get together, for instance in a machine shop, and with professional guidance complete a manufacturing process.

If your next-door-neighbor has a “Stand and Fight” bumper sticker on his F150 and a drill press in his garage, it appears he could still give you a hand without having his door kicked in at 3 am.

For those with the callus-free hands who don’t live next to Lt. Dan, an option still exists (for now) that makes finishing an 80% lower as simple as plugging in a box and hitting a button – it’s called the Ghost Gunner and will start shipping as soon as a few manufacturing issues are sorted out . . . unless the Fun Police types up another new rule.

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