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Posted: 5/1/2009 4:30:09 PM EDT
We'll just say I was recently at a gun show on the east coast, I'll leave it at that. I will also be upfront about my knowledge of a DIAS. In a nutshell I know I better not have one unless I paid an ungodly amount and I have the  proper paperwork.

I was walking the isles with a couple of brand new P-Mags and a bag of gun show jerky (yes, I buy gun show jerky). I over hear a conversation regarding DIAS's for sale, of course this sparks my interest. The guy at the table has 6 or 8 (what looked to me to be) DIAS's out on the table. I decided to just  listen and grab this flyer. Basically the gentleman at the table claimed these would do exactly what a DIAS would do but is actually a safety device to prevent your firearm from 'blowing up'. $100 bucks and you walk out with it, no paper work, no questions.

I'm just curious what this 'safety device' is all about. Is this thing truely legal? They claim it is.

Did I stumble upon a setup?

Please discuss.

No, I didnt buy one and have no plans to.







Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:31:52 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/1/2009 4:50:32 PM EDT by orangelo]
It's Special Agent Smuckatelli and here is how it works:

If you buy it, good luck proving for your own defense that it was manufactured before 1981 if it has no paperwork, no serial #, or any other markings on it.
On the other hand, all the feds have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is the device was in your possession and it appears to be a MG conversion device identical to the thousands of registered ones.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:32:15 PM EDT
In before Admiral Akbar.

Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:34:13 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:36:37 PM EDT
"dimentional" changes.  Nothing says legit like it.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:41:31 PM EDT

 I'd love to know the real story on those.  I've seen that ad in SN for years and always wondered if it was a fishing expedition.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:46:35 PM EDT
At the SAR show in York today?  I saw the same guy.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:49:11 PM EDT

Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:51:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/1/2009 4:56:07 PM EDT by CleverNickname]
Ok, there's four scenarios here:

1) Semi-auto fire control group with no DIAS.  Your normal run of the mill AR15.  Totally legal.
2) Semi-auto fire control group with a DIAS.  The DIAS sits in the lower but because the disconnector makes sure that the hammer isn't released a second time until the bolt is locked and the trigger is pulled again, and because there's no hook on the back of a semi-auto hammer for the DIAS' trip to actuate against, the DIAS does absolutely nothing.  Possession of an unregistered DIAS is still illegal though.
3) Full-auto fire control group with no DIAS.  If you set the selector to the AUTO position, there's nothing that ensures the bolt is locked before the hammer is released, so there's a potential for out-of-battery ignition (gun blowing up.)  Congratulations, you've just manufactured a machine gun that's both illegal and unsafe.
4) Full auto fire control group with a DIAS.  When you set the selector to the AUTO position, the semi-auto disconnector is bypassed and the hammer would follow the bolt, except the trip on the DIAS catches the hook on the back of the full-auto hammer, and doesn't release it until the top of the trip is released when it's hit by the underside of the bolt carrier.  The underside of the bolt carrier won't hit the the trip until the bolt is locked.  This is why an auto sear is sometimes called a safety sear, because it increases safety by ensuring an OOB ignition won't happen.  If the DIAS is not registered with the ATF as a machine gun, well then you've manufactured another illegal machine gun.  Granted, it's much safer to operate than scenario #3, but will still earn you a trip to PMITA prison.  If the DIAS is registered, then it's all legal, but you're not going to get one of these for $100.

Link Posted: 5/1/2009 4:52:23 PM EDT
Do those come with steel bracelets?
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 5:00:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/1/2009 5:04:02 PM EDT by Hanson357]
ETA to add 'In response to rc2'  I always hit the dam 'reply' while I intended to 'quote'

Ummmmm...At this point I am unable to recall. The mass quantity of jerky has had an extrelemy detrimental affect on my cognative skills




But seriously, I dont want to shit on this guys business if it is in fact legit or even worse, tip off one of our Great Leaders Minions.

 
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 5:15:13 PM EDT
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/wbardwel/public/nfalist/ar_15_auto_sear_faq.txt

                          Legal Side
for volume 1 issue 12

                Pre-81 AR-15 Drop-in Auto Sears

    We have gotten a number of requests for information about the
so-called Pre-81 AR-15 drop-in auto sears, that are offered for
sale in various gun publications from time to time.  In particular
people want to know if they are "legal", and if they can be legally
used.

    Prior to November 1, 1981, so called drop-in auto sears for
AR-15 type semi-automatic rifles were not considered by ATF to be
regulated under the National Firearms Act.  Drop-in sears consist
of a housing and a spring loaded sear pivoting on an axis pin, that
fit into the lower receiver of an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle,
being retained in place by the rear push pin lug of the upper
receiver.  The drop-in sear simulates the factory full auto sear in
function.  When other M-16 parts are installed in the AR-15 along
with the sear; the bolt carrier, trigger, hammer, disconnector and
selector, the rifle will function as a select fire M-16.  A fewer
number of the M-16 parts combined with the sear can produce full
auto only fire.  However unlike the factory type full auto sear,
these do not require that the receiver be drilled for the sear pin,
or have the walls of the semi-automatic receiver relieved, they are
a "drop-in" part.

    On November 1, 1981, by ATF Ruling 81-4, ATF declared that
they consider these items to be machine guns in themselves, as they
were "a combination of parts designed and intended for use in
converting a weapon to shoot automatically more than one shot".  In
particular ATF claims that "the single addition of this auto sear
to certain AR15 type semiautomatic rifles, manufactured with M16
internal components already installed, will convert such rifles
into machineguns."  If you read that sentence, and think that it
means that an AR-15 rifle with M-16 parts installed is a semi-
automatic rifle, and not a machine gun also, ATF thinks you are
mistaken.  That, ATF now claims, is a machine gun also.  So the
drop-in sear is a part that converts a machine gun into a machine
gun.  Clever huh; part of the confusion about this area of
regulations is due to the fact that ATF's position on this is not
consistent or rational, as will be explored more fully below.  It
is not possible, under the legal definition of "machinegun" for
both the drop-in sear to be a machine gun, and an AR-15 rifle with
M-16 parts installed in it.

    ATF also declared that the ruling would be applied
prospectively only, meaning that only drop-in sears made after the
ruling would be covered by the ruling.  Those drop-in sears made
before the ruling, mechanically identical to those made after the
ruling, would not be considered machine guns in themselves.  As a
result of this ruling, there are a number of NFA registered drop-in
sears.

    The current language in the definition of "machinegun" (26
U.S.C. section 5845(b)), referring to "any part designed and
intended solely and exclusively . . . for use in converting a
weapon into a machinegun" was not part of the definition in 1981
when the ruling was made.  It was added in 1986, as part of the
Firearm Owners Protection Act amendments.  

    However, while the sears made before the ruling are not
considered machine guns in themselves, they can be considered
machine guns in combination with semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, or in
combination with other M-16 parts.  Thus it is extremely unwise to
possess one of these pre-81 sears together with an AR-15 rifle, or
other M-16 parts, even if none of them are assembled together.  You
might be surprised what ATF can get to fire more than one shot with
a single trigger pull.  So pre-81 drop-in sears are legal to
possess alone, but they are also useless by themselves.  


    In the case United States v. Was, 684 F. Supp. 350 (D.Conn.
1988), affirmed, 869 F.2d 34 (CA2 1989), cert. denied, 490 U.S.
1068, a United States District Court refused to dismiss charges of
transferring three drop-in auto sears without complying with the
National Firearms Act.  While there was no contention the sears at
issue were made before November, 1981, the defendants argued that
since the sears could not convert the AR-15 by themselves, they
were not a combination of parts for converting a gun into a machine
gun (under the pre-1986 definition of "machinegun", which applied
to their case).  The court disagreed, saying the law also covered
a set of parts that was not complete enough to convert a firearm
into a machine gun, but was meant for converting a gun into a
machine gun.  Since the drop-in sear physically consists of
multiple parts in the assembly, the Court ruled the drop-in sear
could fall within the NFA, as it then read, whether or not these
particular sears did was left for a trial.  The defendants later
pled guilty.

    In the case of United States v. Bradley, 892 F.2d 637 (CA7
1990), the defendant argued that a set of parts he was charged with
selling without complying with the NFA, consisting of an M-16
hammer, selector, disconnector, trigger and a pre-81 drop-in AR-15
auto sear, was not a set of parts to convert a gun into a machine
gun, because he did not also sell the M-16 bolt carrier, also
needed for the conversion, at the same time as he sold the other 5
parts.  He sold the carrier two weeks after selling the other
parts.  The court rejected the argument.  Bradley also argued that
the sear was grandfathered under ATF Ruling 81-4, and therefore he
could not be prosecuted for selling it.  In its decision the
appeals court said:

    "Because he [Bradley] transferred an auto sear made before
    November 1981, Bradley insists that he did not need to
    register.  This argument misunderstands ATF 81-4.  The ruling
    is not a safe harbor.  It provides that auto sears made after
    a certain date must be registered even if transferred in
    isolation.  The prosecution's theory in this case is not that
    Bradley violated the statute by transferring the auto sear; it
    is that the six parts together are a 'combination of parts
    designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a
    machinegun'.  That Bradley could not have been convicted for
    an unregistered transfer of the pre-1981 auto sear by itself
    is neither here nor there."

    In summary, a drop-in auto sear, if actually made before
November 1, 1981, is legal to own.  Possessing it in combination
with other M-16 parts, or an AR-15 rifle, is asking for trouble;
ATF considers those combinations to be machine guns as well, even
if the sear is one grandfathered under the ruling.  In addition, it
may not be prudent to rely on the representations of the seller as
to when the sear was made.  It seems unlikely that so many sears
were really made before the ruling took effect.  In some cases it
may be possible for ATF to show the sear must have been made after
November 1, 1981, by metallurgical analysis, or toolmark analysis,
for example.  While a prosecution might be unlikely in such a case,
no one should put their fate in the hands of a United States
Attorney for a piece of metal that cannot be lawfully used in any
case.  It makes no sense.

         AR-15 Rifles with M-16 Parts and No Auto Sear

    The fact that the drop-in auto sear requires the installation
of M-16 parts into an AR-15 in order to work does not change ATF's
view that an AR-15 with those same parts installed, but no drop-in
auto sear, is also a machine gun.  An AR-15 with an M-16 trigger,
disconnector, selector and either an M-16 bolt carrier or hammer
can be rigged to malfunction into firing more than one shot with a
single pull of the trigger, by having the hammer "follow" the bolt
carrier into battery, and fire a second round, rather than be
retained by the disconnector, as normally happens in a semi-
automatic AR-15 after one shot is fired, and the trigger remains
pulled.  This will happen when the M16 selector is placed in the
full auto position, thus depressing the "tail" on the M16
disconnector, and removing it from engagement with the hammer.  The
AR-15 hammer, unlike the M16 hammer, has a notch on the front face,
which is supposed to catch the ring or collar on the back of the
AR-15 firing pin, if the disconnector is disabled.  The collar on
the AR-15 firing pin is larger than that on the M-16 firing pin,
for this purpose.  The hammer notch will only catch the ring on the
AR-15 firing pin if an AR-15 style bolt carrier is also used, as
they have a ramp milled along the underside of the carrier for this
purpose; the M16 carrier, in addition to the sear trip surface,
also does not have this ramp milled.  So the AR-15 hammer, bolt
carrier and firing pin are all required to prevent the hammer
follow down malfunction.  This hammer follow down malfunction can
also be induced by physically removing the disconnector from the
firearm, if either an M-16 bolt carrier or M-16 hammer are also
used, and ATF has done just that, when the rifle lacked an M-16
disconnector, trigger or selector.  Removing the disconnector
entirely is the same mechanically as putting the M-16 selector in
the full automatic position, when the gun also is assembled in
combination with an M-16 disconnector and trigger.

    This hammer follow down malfunction is much more reliable if
handloaded ammunition is used, made with softer pistol primers,
rather than rifle primers.  ATF has used .223 ammunition loaded
with softer than normal primers to make an AR-15 type rifle with no
auto sear fire more than one shot, in combination with inducing the
hammer follow down malfunction.  This hammer follow down phenomenon
is really a malfunction, as it is possible for the rifle to fire
the cartridge before the action is locked, with potentially
disastrous consequences for both the rifle and the person firing
it.  The auto sear, whether a drop-in or not, retains the hammer
until the action is locked, at which point the sear releases the
hammer (assuming the trigger is still pulled) so that the firearm
can fire automatically safely.

    In a March 11, 1986 memorandum, ATF made the following
observations on this phenomenon:

         "The proposed draft ruling would hold that an AR15 type
    rifle in combination with an M16 hammer, trigger,
    disconnector, selector and bolt carrier is a combination of
    parts from which a machine gun can be assembled and is a
    machine gun if such rifle and parts are in the possession or
    under control of a person.  It would also hold that an AR15
    type rifle in combination with any M16 part or parts (whether
    assembled or unassembled) which, when assembled, shoots
    automatically by manipulation of the selector or removal of
    the disconnector is also a machine gun.

         "The Bureau has determined not to issue the ruling at
    this time...."

Reproduced in footnote 10, U.S. v. Staples, 971 F.2d 608 (CA10
1992), reversed on other grounds, 511 U.S. 600 (1994).

    Rather than issue a formal ruling to this effect, and endanger
the "logic" of ATF Ruling 81-4, by acknowledging that the drop-in
auto sear can only really work to convert a firearm ATF also
considers to be a machine gun, ATF instead released this "open
letter" from Stephen E. Higgins, then director of ATF.  The open
letter was printed in the fall, 1986, Federal Firearm Licensee News
publication.  An edited version of this letter can be found in the
ATF "Yellow Book", "Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide",
ATF P 5300.4 (10-95) at page 91:

         "I want to bring to your attention possible Gun Control
    Act violations in which you could inadvertently become
    involved.

         "ATF has encountered various AR15-type assault rifles
    such as those manufactured by Colt, E.A. Company, SGW, Sendra
    and others, which have been assembled with internal components
    designed for use in M16 machineguns.  It has been found that
    the vast majority of these rifles which have been assembled
    with an M16 bolt carrier, hammer, trigger, disconnector and
    selector will fire automatically merely by manipulation of the
    selector or removal of the disconnector.  Many of these rifles
    using less than the five M16 parts listed above also will
    shoot automatically by manipulation of the selector or removal
    of the disconnector.

         "It must be pointed out that any weapon which shoots
    automatically, more than one shot, without manual reloading,
    by a single function of the trigger is a machinegun as defined
    in 26 U.S.C. Section 5845(b), the National Firearms Act (NFA).
    In addition, the definition of a machinegun also includes any
    combination of parts from which a machinegun may be assembled,
    if such parts are in possession or under the control of a
    person.  Any machinegun is subject to the NFA and the
    possession of an unregistered machinegun could subject the
    possessor to criminal prosecution.

         "Additionally, these rifles could pose a safety hazard in
    that they may fire automatically without the user being aware
    that the weapon will fire more than one shot with a single
    pull of the trigger.

         "In order to avoid possible violations of the NFA, M16
    hammers, triggers, disconnectors, selectors and bolt carriers
    must not be used in assembly of AR15-type semiautomatic
    rifles, unless the M16 parts have been modified to AR15 Model
    SP1 configuration.  Any AR15-type rifles which have been
    assembled with M16 internal components should have those parts
    removed and replaced with AR15 Model SP1 type parts.  These
    parts are available commercially or the M16 component may be
    modified to AR15 Model SP1 configuration.

         "It is important to note that any modification of the M16
    parts should only be attempted by fully qualified personnel.

         "On the following page are illustrations of AR15 Model
    SP1 component parts and the corresponding M16-type parts.
    Should you have any questions concerning AR15-type rifles with
    M16 parts, please contact your nearest ATF law enforcement
    office.  Our telephone numbers are listed in the United States
    Government section of your telephone directory under the
    United States Treasury Department."

    While ATF decided not to made a formal ruling to the effect
that an AR-15 type rifle with M-16 parts is a machine gun, they
can, almost certainly, get such a firearm to fire more than one
shot with a single pull of the trigger, and thus claim it is a
machine gun, on a case by case basis.

    Reaction to this position has been mixed in the courts. In
United States v. Staples, 971 F.2d 608 (CA10 1992), reversed on
other grounds, 511 U.S. 600 (1994), both the trial court and court
of appeals rejected the theory that ATF had already decided that an
AR-15 rifle with M-16 parts, but no auto sear of any kind, was not
a machine gun, and permitted ATF to claim that the defendant's AR-
15 rifle, which ATF assembled with M-16 parts they found at the
defendant's house, was a machine gun.  On the other hand, in the
case United States v. Corcoran, Judge Donald E. Zeigler said, in
explaining why he was dismissing 6 counts of possessing or
transferring unregistered machine guns:

         "The AR-15's in this case were transferred by defendant
    without automatic sears.  The essence of due process of law
    requires that the government make clear that conduct which
    constitutes a crime.  Here, the ATF ruled on November 1, 1981,
    that an AR-15 with M-16 internal components already installed,
    will convert to a machine gun with the single addition of an
    automatic sear.  It is inescapable that without the automatic
    sear, the AR15 with M-16 components parts is not a machine gun
    and need not be registered.  If it did constitute a machine
    gun, because it may fire more than one round with a single
    function of the trigger, the agency was required to make that
    clear in the Federal Firearms Regulations, especially in light
    of ATF Ruling 81-4 effective November 1, 1981.

         "In short, once Ruling 81-4 was made and published, the
    agency was required to supplement that ruling to make clear
    that conduct which was once legal, or at least arguably legal,
    was now prohibited.

         "In addition, the arguments that the agency did change
    its policy, in letters to interested citizens after November
    1, 1981, is without merit.  The change must be published in
    the same manner that the original ruling was published;
    otherwise citizens who relied on Ruling 81-4 but did not
    inquire of the government could be prosecuted for a crime
    while other citizens could not."

United States v. Corcoran, Criminal No. 88-11 (W.D. Pa. April 5,
1988), transcript, pages 39-40.

    The authors would like to thank Mr. Stephen P. Halbrook, PhD.,
Esq., for providing some of the ATF source material quoted in this
article.


Legal Side Column

For Small Arms Review Volume 2, issue 8 (cover date 5/99)

      COURT DECISION ON "PRE-81" DROP-IN AR-15 AUTO SEARS

    The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has rendered an important
decision on pre-1981 AR-15 drop-in auto sears.  In the case United
States v. Cash, 149 F.3d 706 (CA7 1998), the court indicated that
such sears are not as "grandfathered" as ATF had been representing,
and as owners of such items had believed, and in fact it is illegal
to transfer or possess these sears, except in compliance with the
NFA, even if they were made before November 1, 1981.  As
extensively discussed in this column in Small Arms Review, volume
1 issue 12, on November 1, 1981, ATF issued ATF Ruling 81-4,
announcing that ATF now considered an AR-15 drop-in auto sear to be
a machine gun in itself, in that it would convert a semi-automatic
AR-15 style rifle, which had been assembled in M-16 components,
into a machine gun.  The fourth and last paragraph of the Ruling
states; "With respect to the machinegun classification of the auto
sear under the National Firearms Act, pursuant to 26 U.S.C.
7805(b), this ruling will not be applied to auto sears manufactured
before November 1, 1981.  Accordingly, auto sears manufactured on
or after November 1, 1981, will be subject to all the provisions of
the National Firearms Act, and 27 C.F.R. Part 179."  Sears made
before the Ruling are often called pre-81 or pre-82 sears,
indicating they were made before the Ruling, and thus not covered
by it.

    In the Cash case the defendants were charged with selling AR-
15 drop-in sears and silencers to undercover ATF agents.  The
defendants pled guilty to the silencer charges, and then contended
that their sentence on those charges should not be enhanced for the
machine gun sear sales, since the government did not show that the
sears were not grandfathered as "pre-82" sears.  While the
defendants were not convicted of selling the sears, that conduct
could be used to give the defendants a greater sentence for their
silencer conviction, under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, up to
the maximum sentence fixed by the statute.  The Court noted that it
was unlikely the sears the defendants sold were really of the pre-
82 variety, since the defendants offered their sears for less than
$65 each, while pre-82 sears cost approximately $150 each through
gun magazine advertisements.  The defendants did not testify as to
when the sears were made, or where they got them; at sentencing
their lawyers claimed the sears were grandfathered ones that the
defendants installed new springs in.  However, the Court stated
that whether the sears were made before or after the ATF Ruling
didn't matter:

    Cash and Croyle rely on the first sentence of the ruling's
    fourth paragraph.  They insist that the prosecution did not
    negate the possibility that the 67 auto sears were
    manufactured before November 1, 1981, and therefore did not
    prove that they are "machineguns" under section 5845(b).  It
    is not at all clear that defendants (or, for that matter, the
    prosecutor) correctly understand the effect of this proviso.
    Defendants believe that it places auto sears manufactured
    before November 1, 1981, outside all obligations laid by
    statute on the ownership and transfer of firearms.  But
    nothing in the firearms statutes gives the Secretary of the
    Treasury (or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) the
    power to make exemptions to section 5845(b) and associated
    legal obligations.  The statute to which ATF Ruling 81-4
    refers, 26 U.S.C. section 7805(b), provides that the Secretary
    cannot give retroactive application to tax regulations and
    adds in section 7805(b)(8) that the "Secretary may prescribe
    the extent, if any, to which any ruling (including any
    judicial decision or any administrative determination other
    than by regulation) relating to the internal revenue laws
    shall be applied without retroactive effect."  Read in
    conjunction with section 7805(b)(8), the proviso in the fourth
    paragraph of ATF Ruling 81-4 means only that the Secretary
    will not collect any tax under 26 U.S.C. sections 5801, 5811,
    or 5821 on account of auto sears manufactured or transferred
    before November 1, 1981.  The ruling does not––and cannot––
    excuse compliance with criminal laws applicable at the time of
    post-1981 transfers.  Cash and Croyle transferred the auto
    sears in 1994 and 1995, when section 5845(b) and ATF Ruling
    81-4 alike defined auto sears as machine guns; they therefore
    had to comply with the laws regulating transfers, such as 26
    U.S.C. section 5841(b) ("Each firearm transferred shall be
    registered to the transferee by the transferor").  See also 26
    U.S.C. section 5861(e) (making a violation of section 5841(b)
    criminal).

         Nonetheless, the prosecutor appears to be content with
    defendants' reading of ATF Ruling 81-4 and argues only that
    the evidence does not show that these auto sears predate 1982.
    Perhaps the prosecutor was misled by language in United States
    v. Bradley, 892 F.2d 634, 636 (7th Cir. 1990), which stated
    that under ATF Ruling 81-4 "auto sears made after a certain
    date must be registered even if transferred in isolation."
    This may be thought to imply that auto sears made earlier may
    be transferred today without registration.  Like Cash and
    Croyle, Bradley contended that auto sears manufactured before
    November 1981 need not be registered even if transferred after
    the Ruling's date; we did not evaluate that possibility in
    Bradley in light of other facts but added that Bradley's
    "argument misunderstands ATF 81-4."  892 F.2d at 636.  As in
    Bradley we move on without final resolution––for the
    prosecutor's acquiescence in defendants' legal position has
    deprived them of any reason to offer arguments supporting it.
    Perhaps their reading has some basis that we do not now
    perceive.  Firearms dealers would do well to assume, however,
    that all current transfers of auto sears must comply with the
    statutes, no matter when the devices were manufactured.

The Court says that while ATF can waive the application of the
Ruling to any making, possession and transfer of sears that
occurred before the Ruling date, November 1, 1981, any making,
transfer or possession that happens after that date, regardless of
when the sear itself was made, is subject to the NFA.  Of course,
it is not now possible for owners of such sears to register them in
compliance with the NFA, and thus to possess or transfer them in
compliance with the NFA, as the enactment of 18 U.S.C. section
922(o) on May 19, 1986 ended registration of machine guns by
ordinary persons.  The effect of the Court's opinion is to make
supposedly grandfathered drop-in sears into contraband.  It is not
yet clear whether ATF intends to rescind its previous construction
of the Ruling, and declare all unregistered AR-15 sears, regardless
of when they were made, to be contraband.  This decision only has
direct application in the states covered by the Seventh Circuit,
Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.  What will happen in other
circuits, should this issue come up, is not certain.  

    This decision also raises a question about the similar
grandfathering that ATF gave to some open-bolt firing semi-auto
firearms.  In ATF Rulings 82-3 and 82-8, ATF decided that the
Interdynamic KG-9 pistol, and the RPB SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and
SAC rifles were machine guns, and in essentially identical language
to that used in Ruling 81-4, also indicated that the Rulings would
not be applied to the firearms made before the dates of the
Rulings.  In fact RPB had made and marketed their firearms pursuant
to an April 11, 1979 letter from ATF determining that the SM10
pistol was not a machine gun.  These grandfathered open-bolt
firearms have been sold on the regular firearms market since these
Rulings, and in fact draw a premium because of their grandfathered
status, and the prohibition on further making of that style of
firearm (except as a registered machine gun).  The logic of the
Cash decision would suggest that any possession or transfer of
these open-bolt semi-auto firearms after the dates of the
respective Rulings would also be subject to the NFA, regardless of
when the guns were made.  Thanks to Steve P. Halbrook for bringing
this important decision to my attention.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 6:01:05 PM EDT



Originally Posted By CS223:


http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/wbardwel/public/nfalist/ar_15_auto_sear_faq.txt



                          Legal Side

for volume 1 issue 12



                Pre-81 AR-15 Drop-in Auto Sears



    We have gotten a number of requests for information about the

so-called Pre-81 AR-15 drop-in auto sears, that are offered for

sale in various gun publications from time to time.  In particular

people want to know if they are "legal", and if they can be legally

used.



    Prior to November 1, 1981, so called drop-in auto sears for

AR-15 type semi-automatic rifles were not considered by ATF to be

regulated under the National Firearms Act.  Drop-in sears consist

of a housing and a spring loaded sear pivoting on an axis pin, that

fit into the lower receiver of an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle,

being retained in place by the rear push pin lug of the upper

receiver.  The drop-in sear simulates the factory full auto sear in

function.  When other M-16 parts are installed in the AR-15 along

with the sear; the bolt carrier, trigger, hammer, disconnector and

selector, the rifle will function as a select fire M-16.  A fewer

number of the M-16 parts combined with the sear can produce full

auto only fire.  However unlike the factory type full auto sear,

these do not require that the receiver be drilled for the sear pin,

or have the walls of the semi-automatic receiver relieved, they are

a "drop-in" part.



    On November 1, 1981, by ATF Ruling 81-4, ATF declared that

they consider these items to be machine guns in themselves, as they

were "a combination of parts designed and intended for use in

converting a weapon to shoot automatically more than one shot".  In

particular ATF claims that "the single addition of this auto sear

to certain AR15 type semiautomatic rifles, manufactured with M16

internal components already installed, will convert such rifles

into machineguns."  If you read that sentence, and think that it

means that an AR-15 rifle with M-16 parts installed is a semi-

automatic rifle, and not a machine gun also, ATF thinks you are

mistaken.  That, ATF now claims, is a machine gun also.  So the

drop-in sear is a part that converts a machine gun into a machine

gun.  Clever huh; part of the confusion about this area of

regulations is due to the fact that ATF's position on this is not

consistent or rational, as will be explored more fully below.  It

is not possible, under the legal definition of "machinegun" for

both the drop-in sear to be a machine gun, and an AR-15 rifle with

M-16 parts installed in it.



    ATF also declared that the ruling would be applied

prospectively only, meaning that only drop-in sears made after the

ruling would be covered by the ruling.  Those drop-in sears made

before the ruling, mechanically identical to those made after the

ruling, would not be considered machine guns in themselves.  As a

result of this ruling, there are a number of NFA registered drop-in

sears.



    The current language in the definition of "machinegun" (26

U.S.C. section 5845(b)), referring to "any part designed and

intended solely and exclusively . . . for use in converting a

weapon into a machinegun" was not part of the definition in 1981

when the ruling was made.  It was added in 1986, as part of the

Firearm Owners Protection Act amendments.  



    However, while the sears made before the ruling are not

considered machine guns in themselves, they can be considered

machine guns in combination with semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, or in

combination with other M-16 parts.  Thus it is extremely unwise to

possess one of these pre-81 sears together with an AR-15 rifle, or

other M-16 parts, even if none of them are assembled together.  You

might be surprised what ATF can get to fire more than one shot with

a single trigger pull.  So pre-81 drop-in sears are legal to

possess alone, but they are also useless by themselves.  




    In the case United States v. Was, 684 F. Supp. 350 (D.Conn.

1988), affirmed, 869 F.2d 34 (CA2 1989), cert. denied, 490 U.S.

1068, a United States District Court refused to dismiss charges of

transferring three drop-in auto sears without complying with the

National Firearms Act.  While there was no contention the sears at

issue were made before November, 1981, the defendants argued that

since the sears could not convert the AR-15 by themselves, they

were not a combination of parts for converting a gun into a machine

gun (under the pre-1986 definition of "machinegun", which applied

to their case).  The court disagreed, saying the law also covered

a set of parts that was not complete enough to convert a firearm

into a machine gun, but was meant for converting a gun into a

machine gun.  Since the drop-in sear physically consists of

multiple parts in the assembly, the Court ruled the drop-in sear

could fall within the NFA, as it then read, whether or not these

particular sears did was left for a trial.  The defendants later

pled guilty.



    In the case of United States v. Bradley, 892 F.2d 637 (CA7

1990), the defendant argued that a set of parts he was charged with

selling without complying with the NFA, consisting of an M-16

hammer, selector, disconnector, trigger and a pre-81 drop-in AR-15

auto sear, was not a set of parts to convert a gun into a machine

gun, because he did not also sell the M-16 bolt carrier, also

needed for the conversion, at the same time as he sold the other 5

parts.  He sold the carrier two weeks after selling the other

parts.  The court rejected the argument.  Bradley also argued that

the sear was grandfathered under ATF Ruling 81-4, and therefore he

could not be prosecuted for selling it.  In its decision the

appeals court said:



    "Because he [Bradley] transferred an auto sear made before

    November 1981, Bradley insists that he did not need to

    register.  This argument misunderstands ATF 81-4.  The ruling

    is not a safe harbor.  It provides that auto sears made after

    a certain date must be registered even if transferred in

    isolation.  The prosecution's theory in this case is not that

    Bradley violated the statute by transferring the auto sear; it

    is that the six parts together are a 'combination of parts

    designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a

    machinegun'.  That Bradley could not have been convicted for

    an unregistered transfer of the pre-1981 auto sear by itself

    is neither here nor there."



    In summary, a drop-in auto sear, if actually made before

November 1, 1981, is legal to own.  Possessing it in combination

with other M-16 parts, or an AR-15 rifle, is asking for trouble;

ATF considers those combinations to be machine guns as well, even

if the sear is one grandfathered under the ruling.  In addition, it

may not be prudent to rely on the representations of the seller as

to when the sear was made.  It seems unlikely that so many sears

were really made before the ruling took effect.  In some cases it

may be possible for ATF to show the sear must have been made after

November 1, 1981, by metallurgical analysis, or toolmark analysis,

for example.  While a prosecution might be unlikely in such a case,

no one should put their fate in the hands of a United States

Attorney for a piece of metal that cannot be lawfully used in any

case.  It makes no sense.



         AR-15 Rifles with M-16 Parts and No Auto Sear



    The fact that the drop-in auto sear requires the installation

of M-16 parts into an AR-15 in order to work does not change ATF's

view that an AR-15 with those same parts installed, but no drop-in

auto sear, is also a machine gun.  An AR-15 with an M-16 trigger,

disconnector, selector and either an M-16 bolt carrier or hammer

can be rigged to malfunction into firing more than one shot with a

single pull of the trigger, by having the hammer "follow" the bolt

carrier into battery, and fire a second round, rather than be

retained by the disconnector, as normally happens in a semi-

automatic AR-15 after one shot is fired, and the trigger remains

pulled.  This will happen when the M16 selector is placed in the

full auto position, thus depressing the "tail" on the M16

disconnector, and removing it from engagement with the hammer.  The

AR-15 hammer, unlike the M16 hammer, has a notch on the front face,

which is supposed to catch the ring or collar on the back of the

AR-15 firing pin, if the disconnector is disabled.  The collar on

the AR-15 firing pin is larger than that on the M-16 firing pin,

for this purpose.  The hammer notch will only catch the ring on the

AR-15 firing pin if an AR-15 style bolt carrier is also used, as

they have a ramp milled along the underside of the carrier for this

purpose; the M16 carrier, in addition to the sear trip surface,

also does not have this ramp milled.  So the AR-15 hammer, bolt

carrier and firing pin are all required to prevent the hammer

follow down malfunction.  This hammer follow down malfunction can

also be induced by physically removing the disconnector from the

firearm, if either an M-16 bolt carrier or M-16 hammer are also

used, and ATF has done just that, when the rifle lacked an M-16

disconnector, trigger or selector.  Removing the disconnector

entirely is the same mechanically as putting the M-16 selector in

the full automatic position, when the gun also is assembled in

combination with an M-16 disconnector and trigger.



    This hammer follow down malfunction is much more reliable if

handloaded ammunition is used, made with softer pistol primers,

rather than rifle primers.  ATF has used .223 ammunition loaded

with softer than normal primers to make an AR-15 type rifle with no

auto sear fire more than one shot, in combination with inducing the

hammer follow down malfunction.  This hammer follow down phenomenon

is really a malfunction, as it is possible for the rifle to fire

the cartridge before the action is locked, with potentially

disastrous consequences for both the rifle and the person firing

it.  The auto sear, whether a drop-in or not, retains the hammer

until the action is locked, at which point the sear releases the

hammer (assuming the trigger is still pulled) so that the firearm

can fire automatically safely.



    In a March 11, 1986 memorandum, ATF made the following

observations on this phenomenon:



         "The proposed draft ruling would hold that an AR15 type

    rifle in combination with an M16 hammer, trigger,

    disconnector, selector and bolt carrier is a combination of

    parts from which a machine gun can be assembled and is a

    machine gun if such rifle and parts are in the possession or

    under control of a person.  It would also hold that an AR15

    type rifle in combination with any M16 part or parts (whether

    assembled or unassembled) which, when assembled, shoots

    automatically by manipulation of the selector or removal of

    the disconnector is also a machine gun.



         "The Bureau has determined not to issue the ruling at

    this time...."



Reproduced in footnote 10, U.S. v. Staples, 971 F.2d 608 (CA10

1992), reversed on other grounds, 511 U.S. 600 (1994).



    Rather than issue a formal ruling to this effect, and endanger

the "logic" of ATF Ruling 81-4, by acknowledging that the drop-in

auto sear can only really work to convert a firearm ATF also

considers to be a machine gun, ATF instead released this "open

letter" from Stephen E. Higgins, then director of ATF.  The open

letter was printed in the fall, 1986, Federal Firearm Licensee News

publication.  An edited version of this letter can be found in the

ATF "Yellow Book", "Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide",

ATF P 5300.4 (10-95) at page 91:



         "I want to bring to your attention possible Gun Control

    Act violations in which you could inadvertently become

    involved.



         "ATF has encountered various AR15-type assault rifles

    such as those manufactured by Colt, E.A. Company, SGW, Sendra

    and others, which have been assembled with internal components

    designed for use in M16 machineguns.  It has been found that

    the vast majority of these rifles which have been assembled

    with an M16 bolt carrier, hammer, trigger, disconnector and

    selector will fire automatically merely by manipulation of the

    selector or removal of the disconnector.  Many of these rifles

    using less than the five M16 parts listed above also will

    shoot automatically by manipulation of the selector or removal

    of the disconnector.



         "It must be pointed out that any weapon which shoots

    automatically, more than one shot, without manual reloading,

    by a single function of the trigger is a machinegun as defined

    in 26 U.S.C. Section 5845(b), the National Firearms Act (NFA).

    In addition, the definition of a machinegun also includes any

    combination of parts from which a machinegun may be assembled,

    if such parts are in possession or under the control of a

    person.  Any machinegun is subject to the NFA and the

    possession of an unregistered machinegun could subject the

    possessor to criminal prosecution.



         "Additionally, these rifles could pose a safety hazard in

    that they may fire automatically without the user being aware

    that the weapon will fire more than one shot with a single

    pull of the trigger.



         "In order to avoid possible violations of the NFA, M16

    hammers, triggers, disconnectors, selectors and bolt carriers

    must not be used in assembly of AR15-type semiautomatic

    rifles, unless the M16 parts have been modified to AR15 Model

    SP1 configuration.  Any AR15-type rifles which have been

    assembled with M16 internal components should have those parts

    removed and replaced with AR15 Model SP1 type parts.  These

    parts are available commercially or the M16 component may be

    modified to AR15 Model SP1 configuration.



         "It is important to note that any modification of the M16

    parts should only be attempted by fully qualified personnel.



         "On the following page are illustrations of AR15 Model

    SP1 component parts and the corresponding M16-type parts.

    Should you have any questions concerning AR15-type rifles with

    M16 parts, please contact your nearest ATF law enforcement

    office.  Our telephone numbers are listed in the United States

    Government section of your telephone directory under the

    United States Treasury Department."



    While ATF decided not to made a formal ruling to the effect

that an AR-15 type rifle with M-16 parts is a machine gun, they

can, almost certainly, get such a firearm to fire more than one

shot with a single pull of the trigger, and thus claim it is a

machine gun, on a case by case basis.



    Reaction to this position has been mixed in the courts. In

United States v. Staples, 971 F.2d 608 (CA10 1992), reversed on

other grounds, 511 U.S. 600 (1994), both the trial court and court

of appeals rejected the theory that ATF had already decided that an

AR-15 rifle with M-16 parts, but no auto sear of any kind, was not

a machine gun, and permitted ATF to claim that the defendant's AR-

15 rifle, which ATF assembled with M-16 parts they found at the

defendant's house, was a machine gun.  On the other hand, in the

case United States v. Corcoran, Judge Donald E. Zeigler said, in

explaining why he was dismissing 6 counts of possessing or

transferring unregistered machine guns:



         "The AR-15's in this case were transferred by defendant

    without automatic sears.  The essence of due process of law

    requires that the government make clear that conduct which

    constitutes a crime.  Here, the ATF ruled on November 1, 1981,

    that an AR-15 with M-16 internal components already installed,

    will convert to a machine gun with the single addition of an

    automatic sear.  It is inescapable that without the automatic

    sear, the AR15 with M-16 components parts is not a machine gun

    and need not be registered.  If it did constitute a machine

    gun, because it may fire more than one round with a single

    function of the trigger, the agency was required to make that

    clear in the Federal Firearms Regulations, especially in light

    of ATF Ruling 81-4 effective November 1, 1981.



         "In short, once Ruling 81-4 was made and published, the

    agency was required to supplement that ruling to make clear

    that conduct which was once legal, or at least arguably legal,

    was now prohibited.



         "In addition, the arguments that the agency did change

    its policy, in letters to interested citizens after November

    1, 1981, is without merit.  The change must be published in

    the same manner that the original ruling was published;

    otherwise citizens who relied on Ruling 81-4 but did not

    inquire of the government could be prosecuted for a crime

    while other citizens could not."



United States v. Corcoran, Criminal No. 88-11 (W.D. Pa. April 5,

1988), transcript, pages 39-40.



    The authors would like to thank Mr. Stephen P. Halbrook, PhD.,

Esq., for providing some of the ATF source material quoted in this

article.





Legal Side Column



For Small Arms Review Volume 2, issue 8 (cover date 5/99)



      COURT DECISION ON "PRE-81" DROP-IN AR-15 AUTO SEARS



    The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has rendered an important

decision on pre-1981 AR-15 drop-in auto sears.  In the case United

States v. Cash, 149 F.3d 706 (CA7 1998), the court indicated that

such sears are not as "grandfathered" as ATF had been representing,

and as owners of such items had believed, and in fact it is illegal

to transfer or possess these sears, except in compliance with the

NFA, even if they were made before November 1, 1981.  As

extensively discussed in this column in Small Arms Review, volume

1 issue 12, on November 1, 1981, ATF issued ATF Ruling 81-4,

announcing that ATF now considered an AR-15 drop-in auto sear to be

a machine gun in itself, in that it would convert a semi-automatic

AR-15 style rifle, which had been assembled in M-16 components,

into a machine gun.  The fourth and last paragraph of the Ruling

states; "With respect to the machinegun classification of the auto

sear under the National Firearms Act, pursuant to 26 U.S.C.

7805(b), this ruling will not be applied to auto sears manufactured

before November 1, 1981.  Accordingly, auto sears manufactured on

or after November 1, 1981, will be subject to all the provisions of

the National Firearms Act, and 27 C.F.R. Part 179."  Sears made

before the Ruling are often called pre-81 or pre-82 sears,

indicating they were made before the Ruling, and thus not covered

by it.



    In the Cash case the defendants were charged with selling AR-

15 drop-in sears and silencers to undercover ATF agents.  The

defendants pled guilty to the silencer charges, and then contended

that their sentence on those charges should not be enhanced for the

machine gun sear sales, since the government did not show that the

sears were not grandfathered as "pre-82" sears.  While the

defendants were not convicted of selling the sears, that conduct

could be used to give the defendants a greater sentence for their

silencer conviction, under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, up to

the maximum sentence fixed by the statute.  The Court noted that it

was unlikely the sears the defendants sold were really of the pre-

82 variety, since the defendants offered their sears for less than

$65 each, while pre-82 sears cost approximately $150 each through

gun magazine advertisements.  The defendants did not testify as to

when the sears were made, or where they got them; at sentencing

their lawyers claimed the sears were grandfathered ones that the

defendants installed new springs in.  However, the Court stated

that whether the sears were made before or after the ATF Ruling

didn't matter:



    Cash and Croyle rely on the first sentence of the ruling's

    fourth paragraph.  They insist that the prosecution did not

    negate the possibility that the 67 auto sears were

    manufactured before November 1, 1981, and therefore did not

    prove that they are "machineguns" under section 5845(b).  It

    is not at all clear that defendants (or, for that matter, the

    prosecutor) correctly understand the effect of this proviso.

    Defendants believe that it places auto sears manufactured

    before November 1, 1981, outside all obligations laid by

    statute on the ownership and transfer of firearms.  But

    nothing in the firearms statutes gives the Secretary of the

    Treasury (or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) the

    power to make exemptions to section 5845(b) and associated

    legal obligations.  The statute to which ATF Ruling 81-4

    refers, 26 U.S.C. section 7805(b), provides that the Secretary

    cannot give retroactive application to tax regulations and

    adds in section 7805(b)(8) that the "Secretary may prescribe

    the extent, if any, to which any ruling (including any

    judicial decision or any administrative determination other

    than by regulation) relating to the internal revenue laws

    shall be applied without retroactive effect."  Read in

    conjunction with section 7805(b)(8), the proviso in the fourth

    paragraph of ATF Ruling 81-4 means only that the Secretary

    will not collect any tax under 26 U.S.C. sections 5801, 5811,

    or 5821 on account of auto sears manufactured or transferred

    before November 1, 1981.  The ruling does not––and cannot––

    excuse compliance with criminal laws applicable at the time of

    post-1981 transfers.  Cash and Croyle transferred the auto

    sears in 1994 and 1995, when section 5845(b) and ATF Ruling

    81-4 alike defined auto sears as machine guns; they therefore

    had to comply with the laws regulating transfers, such as 26

    U.S.C. section 5841(b) ("Each firearm transferred shall be

    registered to the transferee by the transferor").  See also 26

    U.S.C. section 5861(e) (making a violation of section 5841(b)

    criminal).



         Nonetheless, the prosecutor appears to be content with

    defendants' reading of ATF Ruling 81-4 and argues only that

    the evidence does not show that these auto sears predate 1982.

    Perhaps the prosecutor was misled by language in United States

    v. Bradley, 892 F.2d 634, 636 (7th Cir. 1990), which stated

    that under ATF Ruling 81-4 "auto sears made after a certain

    date must be registered even if transferred in isolation."

    This may be thought to imply that auto sears made earlier may

    be transferred today without registration.  Like Cash and

    Croyle, Bradley contended that auto sears manufactured before

    November 1981 need not be registered even if transferred after

    the Ruling's date; we did not evaluate that possibility in

    Bradley in light of other facts but added that Bradley's

    "argument misunderstands ATF 81-4."  892 F.2d at 636.  As in

    Bradley we move on without final resolution––for the

    prosecutor's acquiescence in defendants' legal position has

    deprived them of any reason to offer arguments supporting it.

    Perhaps their reading has some basis that we do not now

    perceive.  Firearms dealers would do well to assume, however,

    that all current transfers of auto sears must comply with the

    statutes, no matter when the devices were manufactured.



The Court says that while ATF can waive the application of the

Ruling to any making, possession and transfer of sears that

occurred before the Ruling date, November 1, 1981, any making,

transfer or possession that happens after that date, regardless of

when the sear itself was made, is subject to the NFA.  Of course,

it is not now possible for owners of such sears to register them in

compliance with the NFA, and thus to possess or transfer them in

compliance with the NFA, as the enactment of 18 U.S.C. section

922(o) on May 19, 1986 ended registration of machine guns by

ordinary persons.  The effect of the Court's opinion is to make

supposedly grandfathered drop-in sears into contraband.  It is not

yet clear whether ATF intends to rescind its previous construction

of the Ruling, and declare all unregistered AR-15 sears, regardless

of when they were made, to be contraband.  This decision only has

direct application in the states covered by the Seventh Circuit,

Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.  What will happen in other

circuits, should this issue come up, is not certain.  



    This decision also raises a question about the similar

grandfathering that ATF gave to some open-bolt firing semi-auto

firearms.  In ATF Rulings 82-3 and 82-8, ATF decided that the

Interdynamic KG-9 pistol, and the RPB SM10 and SM11A1 pistols and

SAC rifles were machine guns, and in essentially identical language

to that used in Ruling 81-4, also indicated that the Rulings would

not be applied to the firearms made before the dates of the

Rulings.  In fact RPB had made and marketed their firearms pursuant

to an April 11, 1979 letter from ATF determining that the SM10

pistol was not a machine gun.  These grandfathered open-bolt

firearms have been sold on the regular firearms market since these

Rulings, and in fact draw a premium because of their grandfathered

status, and the prohibition on further making of that style of

firearm (except as a registered machine gun).  The logic of the

Cash decision would suggest that any possession or transfer of

these open-bolt semi-auto firearms after the dates of the

respective Rulings would also be subject to the NFA, regardless of

when the guns were made.  Thanks to Steve P. Halbrook for bringing

this important decision to my attention.


Thanks for the great info! Answered alot of my questions. I guess I am still confused that this 'Safety Device' can do what a DIAS can do but it's primary function is for safety ( If im reading that flier correctly), Could this still be considered a DIAS? Maybe I'm starting to talk myself in circles.




 
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 6:06:21 PM EDT
SGN ad


Link Posted: 5/1/2009 6:17:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Hanson357:
Thanks for the great info! Answered alot of my questions. I guess I am still confused that this 'Safety Device' can do what a DIAS can do but it's primary function is for safety ( If im reading that flier correctly), Could this still be considered a DIAS? Maybe I'm starting to talk myself in circles.
 


It's a DIAS and only a DIAS. It can not realistically be considered a safety device. If you note the portion in blue, it basically says the pre-81 classification is void and all DIAS's are considered machineguns in themselves even thought it takes M16 fire control parts & a carrier to function.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 6:17:54 PM EDT
It's called a "safety sear" because it ensures that the gun won't fire out of battery when firing fully automatic. Replace the word "safety" with "auto" if you still can't figure out that they are the same thing with a different name. Another guy explained it better farther up the page.
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