While much of the state of Pennsylvania is friendly to gun owners, it seems that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia carry enough sway that the rest of the state is going to be stuck with anti-gunners in state offices for the time being. That’s the problem for a lot of people throughout the country, unfortunately.
However, most other states don’t have to deal with their jackwagons completely ignoring the ATF’s definition of when a block of metal is and when it’s not a firearm. Yet that’s precisely what the attorney general in Pennsylvania has done.
Amidst a gun violence epidemic, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf today outlined a new legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office addressing the classification of “80% receivers,” which are most commonly used to make unserialized “ghost guns.” The opinion clarifies that, under the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, these receivers are properly classified as firearms in Pennsylvania. This opinion was issued to tackle the growing use of untraceable “ghost guns” and to further assist law enforcement officials to protect people and save lives.
A receiver, or frame, is the part of the firearm that houses the internal firing components. A gun cannot function without a receiver. A so-called “80% receiver” is one that is in an incomplete stage of manufacture; however, they can easily be turned into a functioning firearm. 80% receivers are commonly unserialized. Until this opinion, there was uncertainty over whether 80% receivers can be regulated the same way as fully finished receivers. This gap in enforcement made these weapons easily accessible to criminals and those prohibited from purchasing firearms in the Commonwealth, including convicted felons and domestic abusers.
“My Office is taking the initial step of clarifying – through my official, legal opinion – that under Pennsylvania law, 80% receivers are firearms and can be treated, regulated, and enforced as such,” AG Shapiro said today during a Capitol news conference with Governor Wolf and the PA State Police. “The proliferation of these untraceable weapons strikes at the heart of our public safety, hindering law enforcement’s ability to protect our communities. Today, we take the first step in addressing this problem.
“If we don’t recognize that 80 percent receivers are firearms under Pennsylvania law, we are creating a giant loophole that allows criminals to skirt our agreed-upon laws that keep people safe,” said Gov. Wolf. “Changing this classification will not hurt legal, responsible gun owners – This change will stop criminals, terrorists and other people who can’t pass a background check from acquiring a gun through the loophole.”
Now, let’s assume that Shapiro can actually get away with this. I’m not entirely sure that would hold up to court challenge unless state law empowers the AG office with defining what is a gun or not, but for the sake of argument, let’s say Shapiro actually has the legal authority to do this.
You’re now responsible for 75 percent complete lower receivers.
Good job. That’s one for the ages.
Look, gun owners and gun manufacturers are going to take a certain bit of pride in finding ways around existing laws. It’s not that anyone is trying to arm bad guys–they have no problem getting guns regardless of what you do–but because none of us enjoy having the government tell us we have to do certain things, particularly when it comes to guns.
The reason 80 percent lowers are a thing is because the ATF said anything more than 80 percent is a firearm. If Shapiro is going to unilaterally decide that 80 percent is now a gun, they’ll make a 75 percent lower. The truth is, we can play this game all the way down to a bare block of aluminum if he feels froggy. Someone will build the jigs to take that and turn it into an AR-15 lower just on general principle.
Shapiro and his fellow travelers haven’t accomplished anything except to annoy gun rights advocates in the state.