Robert Bevis, the owner of Law Weapons in Naperville, has come up with a
brilliant workaround for owners of America’s favorite rifle, the AR-15. At least when it comes to exempting the rifles from gun registration in Illinois.
UPDATE: We’ll leave the rest of this post largely intact, save for strike-throughs of relevant information that’s just plain wrong. We thought Mr. Bevis had a great idea. In fact I called Law Weapons at least six times today trying to order at least a couple of these devices (and I’ve got the call logs to prove it). Fortunately, it turns out, Law was too busy fielding other orders to answer.
A subject matter expert and manufacturer of firearms in our fine state talked with me Monday night as I drove down to Newman, IL. He shared a lot, but let me distill it down to this: changing a part in an AR-15 upper doesn’t change the status of the lower receiver (the part ATF considers a firearm) at all. It was “born” a semi-automatic rifle or handgun and physically nothing has changed in the lower receiver.
Need something more substantive that a manufacturer who worked for years to develop a product that complies with legal intricacies?
How about this example of a “workaround” very similar to Mr. Bevis’, the “Tier 5 Modified Bolt Catch” that would supposedly turn your semi-auto AR-15 into a manually cycled firearm – akin to what Mr. Bevis claims his device will do for users (at $119.95 a pop). Well, great idea, except New York State cops offered an “interpretation” that the device did not change the mechanical operation of the firearm, and as such did not make it a compliant modification under NY’s “SAFE” Act.
From the Long Island Firearms forum.
Subject: Notice – NYS Police Interpretation & Opinion of Tier5 MBC
As we have continually stated firearm laws are subject to change and interpretation. In contradiction to BATF’s definition of a semiautomatic firearm, it has recently come to our attention that New York State Police has taken the position that the use of the Tier5TM MBCTMdoes not change the mechanical operation of the firearm, therefore it is NOT considered a compliant modification under the NY SAFE Act. We have not received anything official from New York State Police regarding their determination nor do we expect to receive anything in writing stating their position. The courts will have to make the official ruling. We are also seeking an official ruling from the BATF specific to the Tier5TM MBCTM. In abundance of caution, we are notifying our New York State customers that at this time firearms fitted with the Tier5TM MBCTM are still considered a semiautomatic firearm by New York State Police.
Something similar was also tried in California to bypass that state’s scary gun ban. California looked over the product idea, snickered a little and issued an opinion that it did not change the type of firearm upon which it was attached. Instead, it merely made it a “broken” semi-auto rifle. (Credit to “Quiet” at CalGuns.)
So despite the opinion of the attorney Mr. Bevis consulted with (who may regret writing that letter attesting to this as a legal workaround), until and unless the Illinois State Police approve this as a legitimate way to turn your AR- into a “bolt action” rifle, is it worth risking a felony for not making any modifications that would cause the law enforcement agencies / courts / juries to think that your AR-15 isn’t still an AR-15 because it effectively malfunctions with every shot?
Put yourself in the jury box. You’re maybe agnostic at best on guns. You don’t understand the internals. You have an individual who was arrested with this rifle.
And the defendant’s attorney is trying to claim that because the defendant changed out this:
That somehow that minor change made this something besides an AR-15…
Yeah, that’s not gonna fly.
The “LAW-BOLT 15” AR bolt redirects the gas out the ejection port instead of using it to cycle the action when the gun is fired. This keeps the dirty hot gasses out of the innards of the gun. [Update: And blows a ton of hot gasses out the side of the gun near your face.) More importantly, because the gun has to be cycled with each shot,
it turns the gun into a bolt action rifle. This, of course, exempts it from gun registration in Illinois.
William Kirk, the attorney behind Washington Gun Law surely seems to think so.
Me, my first-blush concerns that those utilizing this are trading one bad scenario for another. So you’ve exempted yourself from registering your AR-15. Does that mean that all the “weapon accessories” on your “bolt action rifle” must therefore be registered? I doubt it under the current guidance from ISP. Not according to the Law Weapons ordering page for this item, Bevis’ lawyer(s) don’t think so. And neither does William Kirk.
- You would have to dispose of the original AR bolt, or register it as a weapon accessory. Possession of “accessories” is a felony right out of the gate under this screwed up law. I’m sure Kwame Raoul would love to convict you for “constructive possession” of an illegal firearm if you had the bolt on your workbench.
- The cost of this item is $119.95. That’s a helluva lot better than the $389 that someone emailed me earlier Sunday, which automatically put it on my “eh, no” list.
However at $120, that’s another story.Yes, that’s about twice a generic AR bolt, but Mr. Bevis has all sort of legal expenses, and business has fallen off a cliff for him between the Naperville gun and magazine sales ban and the PICA law. Think of it as a donation. I suspect I’m in for a couple of these LAW-15 devices. Not any more. You might well consider ordering some for your ARs as well. Just give me a chance to order mine first.