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Legal Caveats if Building a Shooter

 
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eltee
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Joined: 31 Oct 2006
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Location: West Coast USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:09 pm    Post subject: Legal Caveats if Building a Shooter Reply with quote

For background, have been a fully licensed firearms dealer (FFL) and have been modifying custom firearms since the 70's. Also, a cop for over 27 years and the rangemaster for several of those as well as a NRA certified firearms instructor. Of course, I am also a prop weapon junkie and a Bladerunner addict.

A number of you have asked if I would help you build a "shooter" similar to the one I did the lengthy tutorial on a couple of years ago. While I'm still debating whether or not I have the time or motivation to do same I thought I'd put this out there for you re. a couple of legal issues.

The feds (DOJ, BATFE, etc.) and your state laws severely limit what you can do and how you can transport things as seemingly harmless as a totally stripped Steyr upper receiver ... the part used on the BR blaster. This came up when some of you wanted to just mail me your Steyr. Granted, that Steyr upper can only hurt someone if you throw it at their face BUT in the eyes of the law it is considered A FIREARM! Yes, that paperweight is considered a gun and therefore you must treat it as such. While it may seem illogical, the laws are clear that the serial numbered receiver is considered a firearm even if it is totally stripped of the ability to fire a cartridge.

As such, you should consider the following:

- There are special requirements to ship it, you cannot ship it using USPS unless you go through a licensed firearms dealer (FFL)
- If you ship it as an individual you must use UPS or FedEx, etc. and fill out special forms
- If you do not ship properly, you run the risk of confiscation and being charged
- You cannot ship a "firearm" to an individual / company, you have to send it to a dealer (FFL) who the receiving party picks it up from after completing some paperwork and some states require a waiting period
- In some states, you cannot leave (drop off) a firearm with someone without going through a process. For example, most gunsmiths and machine shops (those that do not sell firearms) that work on guns have an FFL in order to receive, ship, and keep firearms on the premises. In California, you must legally stay with your "gun" if a metal shop is working on it if the shop is not a licensed FFL. Crazy, but it's the law.
- Once you are done working on your Steyr upper receiver and have it on your Bladerunner blaster, it is still considered a firearm (unless you go through the BATFE approved process to have it registered as permanently deactivated) and if you cosplay with it, brandish (display) it, leave it on display unsecured, etc. you may be subject to charges ... seriously. Extreme example, you are cosplaying Deckard, someone overreacts and call the cops saying a nut in a trench coat is brandishing a gun, and you get braced. Unless that cop knows about BR Blaster replicas, etc. and that the serial numbered Steyr is harmless, you have a viable chance of getting detained and having your valuable PROP confiscated. If it's a shooter with a real, functioning Bulldog under all the greeblies you can be charged with possession of a concealable firearm if you don't have a CCW or live in a really free state.
- If you have a functioning Bulldog within your replica, you have to treat it as a live firearm and even displaying it (in some states) can be restricted. Here in California I temporarily disable my shooter to comply with the law.
- There are varying laws (some based by locale) regarding changing the appearance of a firearm. Under strict interpretation of some laws, if you turn a blued / black firearm (Steyr or Bulldog) into a bare metal / silver firearm you may be in violation.
- If you change the serial number of a firearm, you really are pushing the legal envelope ... even for a stripped or non-functioning "gun." I know some folks want to remove the original serial number of their Steyr and/or Bulldog and restamp or reroll with numbers to match the screen used original prop but I would be cautious.

The above is not to dissuade or scare any of you away from building the Blaster you want. Having seen people lose guns or pay for lawyers, etc. or simply dealing with the hassle of being confronted by federal / local law enforcement for well intentioned projects involving a real firearms receiver, etc. I wanted to give you folks a heads up. Even the Hollywood studios deal with problems arising from firearms and there are some very high profile cases re. prop guns but that's another story.

My overall point is to remind you all that if you are using a REAL Steyr or Charter Arms Bulldog in your build, EVEN IF THEY ARE UNABLE TO FIRE A LIVE ROUND, you need to consider those components as real, lethal firearms because in the eyes of the law ... they are GUNS unless you have gone through the length process of having them legally certified as permanently deactivated. I don't want to see someone on this site telling a story of how the Postal Inspectors seized a Steyr or Bulldog being sent to a metal shop for modification and I SURE don't want to hear about one of you collectors getting arrested.

Not looking for a huge debate or drama over my posting, consider it informational. Check federal laws and the laws in the state you live in and the state of anyone / any shop you intend to ship a Steyr or Bulldog to.

I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
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veektohr
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is extremely important information. These builds are tough in every respect, and should be approached with caution - even after a lot of research. Thanks for posting, Eltee.
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eltee
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veektohr wrote:
This is extremely important information. These builds are tough in every respect, and should be approached with caution - even after a lot of research. Thanks for posting, Eltee.


You live in California so you KNOW what I'm talking about. Wink


Last edited by eltee on Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Nexus7
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great info. Thanks for sharing!
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joberg
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The Law is hard...but it's the Law" Thanks for that Eltee Cool
I'm in Canada so these do not apply to me, but as you know, the law here is much more stringent pertaining to owning a firearm, let alone laws covering replicas, air soft, props and antique weapons.

I'm sure our Canadian members here can attest to that Wink The key, as you said, is to educate yourself!!
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BadAtNames
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, thanks a lot for posting this, Eltee. I feel like this is information that should definitely be on this board somewhere.

As someone who lives in NY, a state second in gun restrictions only to California (we don't have the bullet button... yet), and plans on building a shooter, I feel like I ought to get a lawyer just for the process.

Understanding full well that you are not a lawyer, and this is not legal advise, I have a couple of questions:

1.) When you say you "temporarily deactivate" your shooter for display, what do you do to it? The only method I've ever heard of for deactivating a handgun is to cut it in half. Would a LEO consider your shooter "deactivated" if they came across it while it was on display?

2.) If one were to go through the BATFE process to have their Steyr deactivated, in your opinion would just the Steyr component then be safe to mail/transport/bradish during cosplay, etc.?

Thanks again for posting this purely anecdotal primer. Wink
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CessnaDriver
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the Steyr upper is tracked?
Usually it's the lower assembly that is the serialized "firearm".

Bummer.
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veektohr
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CessnaDriver wrote:
So the Steyr upper is tracked?
Usually it's the lower assembly that is the serialized "firearm".

Bummer.


It depends on the make & model. On a pistol, AR, etc. the lower receiver is the "gun." For bolt action rifles the only receiver is the upper, though. The rest is just stock, mag well, and trigger group.

It gets even stranger: for an MP5, while the receiver is the "gun" the sear is what is legally the "machine gun"!
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eltee
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joberg wrote:
"The Law is hard...but it's the Law" Thanks for that Eltee Cool
I'm in Canada so these do not apply to me, but as you know, the law here is much more stringent pertaining to owning a firearm, let alone laws covering replicas, air soft, props and antique weapons.

I'm sure our Canadian members here can attest to that Wink The key, as you said, is to educate yourself!!


Hi, I'm MARRIED to a Canadian citizen and I'm up in Ontario regularly, plus several in-laws are cops up there. You'd be surprised, Canadians can buy guns that are prohibited in California or the US. I know, however, that the airsoft / paintball / replica guns are tightly controlled up there. I had to build my H&K G36 out of a SL-8 and military G36 parts whereas in Canada H&K sells a civilian version of the G36. Most folks cannot buy any new "assault rifles" in California but in Canada they still sell them but with 10 rd mags. Crazy.
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eltee
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BadAtNames wrote:
...
Understanding full well that you are not a lawyer, and this is not legal advise, I have a couple of questions:

1.) When you say you "temporarily deactivate" your shooter for display, what do you do to it? The only method I've ever heard of for deactivating a handgun is to cut it in half. Would a LEO consider your shooter "deactivated" if they came across it while it was on display?

2.) If one were to go through the BATFE process to have their Steyr deactivated, in your opinion would just the Steyr component then be safe to mail/transport/bradish during cosplay, etc.?

Thanks again for posting this purely anecdotal primer. Wink


1. It is not, in legal terms, "permanently" deactivated where you physically (usually through metal deformation, welding, removal and weld filling parts, etc.) make the gun inoperable and process same to BATFE standards. To "temporarily" deactivate it means under the law I am not leaving a "firearm" where someone (additional laws are specific to minors) can use it as a gun. I remove the Charter Arms firing pin and/or use a commercial lock that runs through the barrel and into the 12 o'clock chamber. It is hidden when in use unless you look down the barrel. The other method I've played with is buying a second cylinder and welding in some dummy round and using that when on display. That's makes for a prop that has no locks, keeps the firing pin in, but cannot be fired unless you replace the cylinder.

2. If you process your receiver to have its serial number taken out of the system as a live gun and documented by BATFE as a deactivated firearm you may "legally" treat it as a piece of metal but a nervous Nelly postal worker, etc. might still panic. I would probably ship it with the deactivation document at all times. What I do with my deactivated stuff that still looks like a gun is to zip tie a laminated card that on one side has my FFL # and contact info and on the other has printed in big red letters, "INERT, NOT A WEAPON"

Hope this helps.
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eltee
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:37 pm    Post subject: Machine Shops Without an FFL (Federal Firearms License) Reply with quote

I should also note that whether you drop off or ship your Steyr or Bulldog to a shop or individual, be SURE that there are no restrictions. I've been to some sketchy metal / machine shops over the decades I've been working on prop and real guns. Where do some machinists learn their skills? IN PRISON. Please, I am not painting machinists / machine shops with a broad brush but I speak from experience. If you leave / ship your Steyr / Bulldog for work at a place where a felon is working on it and someone (co-worker, secret squirrel, visiting parole/probation officer, etc.) reports a felon in proximity of a "firearm" (per OP) there could be a problem that is no fault of your own. I've had work done in shops where it looks like a gangster clubhouse but determined all was good so appearances are not the key, it's asking. The person / shop mgr. may not realize a stripped Steyr is still seen as a "firearm" and cops / feds CAN get really technical if they want to jam someone up.

Also, as mentioned in the OP, even if the individual / shop employees are all OK to be in proximity of guns and the "gun" arrived there legally by shipping or personal delivery, some states (like my beloved California) do not allow you to leave the "firearm" with somebody without an FFL. Even those companies who offer to refinish guns or add sights to them, etc. and do no work on the firing mechanism need to be licensed (in Calif and other areas). When I have a gun worked on by a non-FFL entity / person I have to make an appointment and stay in the building while the work is done (thank you crazy California).

When doing CNC or something slow, it can be time consuming so I bring a book or an Ipad.

So, before you ship or drop off a "firearm" to be worked on check your state laws re. leaving a firearm with another person / shop without an FFL. If shipping out of state, check the state gun laws where you are shipping it to.

Chances are even if technically illegal it won't be discovered but why take a chance with an expensive and rare item (Steyr) when a little homework can prevent heartache.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Eltee, seems that everyday brings some kind of surprise..."married to a Canadian" from Ontario (my province, and Ottawa my town) to boot Very Happy

Yep, I know a few Police Officers and also a few in the RCMP in Ottawa (fun group for sure) Wink
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BadAtNames
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is great info. TFS, Eltee!

I totally would never have considered the background of the machine shop employees, but it makes perfect sense. The whole thing is a hell of a legal minefield to navigate.
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ogrotesque1
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Priceless info eltree, God bless!
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kevdeo
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, this is important to know.

I plan to own a shooter, at some point.
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eltee
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the record, there is no "set" price for an FFL to ship or receive your real Steyr upper or Bulldog revolver components. As an FFL I charge $25.00 and that includes the shipping one way via USPS Priority. An FFL can charge as much, or as little, as he wants for this service so you may want to shop around.

For the FFL, his work entails logging your Steyr receiver and/or Bulldog frame into his official ATF "Bound Book" (Record of Acquisition and Disposal). Some states require the sending FFL to do an online check to determine if the receiving FFL is authorized. In California it's called the CFLC process.

On the receiving end, THAT FFL will have to treat the Steyr / Bulldog as a real firearm under Federal law and log it into his Bound Book and then log it out to whomever is doing the work. That person has to come into the receiving FFL's facility in order to do all this AND the FFL there will probably charge as well for processing the receipt of the piece and the transferring it to whomever picks it up. Again, check prices before you settle on the FFL to use.

It may be tempting to ship it yourself or ship it directly to a hobbyist / prop maker, etc. but you risk losing your valuable piece/s and risk being charged with violating federal and state laws (depending upon jurisdiction).
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joberg
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TFS this info with us Eltee, always valuable!
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