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Preview – Law Abiding

Law Abiding
Yep, 80-Percent Lowers Are 100-Percent Kosher

While we always strive to report the most accurate information, laws can change and vary from state to state. Always double-check the laws in your region and seek out professional legal counsel when necessary.

As the old axiom goes, knowledge is power. So, empower your arsenal by building your own firearm from an 80-percent lower receiver. Make your own gun? “Isn’t that illegal?” you might ask. Well, actually, it’s not. According to federal law, it’s completely legal to make your own firearm.

Under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), an individual can make a firearm for personal use. Surprised? If you are, you need to read on and find out more about what you can and can’t do with an 80-percent lower. Because, as Duke taught us in the ’80s, knowing is half the battle.

What’s an 80-percent lower?
Think of it as an incomplete sculpture that still needs some stone to be chipped away. Essentially, it’s a partially formed lower receiver that requires the owner to tool in the missing 20 percent — hence the name. This usually means you’ll have to drill or machine out the fire-control pocket, as well as drill holes for the trigger, safety selector, hammer pin, and trigger pin. Once you’ve done that, you have a working lower that you can use to assemble a firearm.

How is this legal?

Because the federal government says so. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has determined that 80-percent lowers are not firearms. In the eyes of the law, it’s just a blank piece of material, for all intents and purposes.

So an 80-percent lower is not a firearm, but can I build a firearm from it?
Yep — at least from the federal government’s point of view. (Check your state laws for restrictions.) The GCA states that an unlicensed individual can make a firearm as defined in the GCA for personal use, but not for sale or distribution. That means it’s kosher to complete an 80-percent lower and assemble a working firearm from it, so long as:

It’s for personal use: No gifting, transferring, or willing it to relatives.

You build it yourself: You can’t bribe Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor to do the dirty work for you.

You’re not prohibited from owning a firearm: Sorry, felons, but there’s no loophole here for you to exploit. If you’re already prohibited from owning a regular firearm, the same penalties apply to possessing one that you made yourself.

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 12

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