This will take several ingredients:
- A 1911 version of the Mechtech CCU
- A 1911-pattern frame, that has never been assembled into a handgun
- All the rest of the parts necessary to assemble a 1911-pattern firearm, except the slide and barrel assembly
- a .22lr conversion kit for a 1911-pattern handgun
Ingredient 4 is not a firearm, and therefore may be purchased without any particular restrictions. I will buy mine at a different PA FFL, still not in a City of the First Class by PA law.
I will then drive to a range, following all the laws pertaining to transport of firearms and ammunition without a License to Carry in PA. At the range I run a few magazines through my .45acp carbine. I step back from the line, detach the 1911-pattern frame from the Mechtech unit, and attach it to the .22lr conversion kit. I now have a handgun (federal definition": “a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand” that is “ … a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore”) whose component pieces I obtained in a state in which I am not resident, without having fulfilled the requirements for purchase of a handgun of the state in which I am resident.
What federal laws did I break, and when? What state laws did I break, and when? Each individual transaction is legal. I bought a rifle in one store, and a conversion kit for a handgun in another. At no point did I engage in the manufacture of a firearm, and at no point did any of the components being sold by any one vendor qualify as a “collection of parts” for the assembly of a handgun.
The Mechtech unit is by far not the only way I could have done this – AR-15-pattern “pistols” have been around for a while. For me, as a New Jersey resident, an AR-15-pattern pistol is an illegal Assault Weapon, having a detachable magazine outside the handgrip and also (I believe) weighing over 50 oz. and fires what is traditionally a rifle round. The Mechtech+1911 carbine unit has the benefit of being chambered in a traditionally handgun caliber. The Mechtech CCU alone has the advantage of having the long barrel and the long stock as one single unit, foreclosing the possibility of assembling a carbine with only one or the other feature and falling into Short-Barreled-Rifle or Any Other Weapon territory. I specified a conversion kit as that is something that can be found in many FFLs inventory on hand – though I probably could find a slide assembly almost as easily.
Now, my (hypothetical) 18-year-old friend does the same thing. In PA, an 18-year-old may possess a handgun (subject to the laws concerning possession without a License to Carry). When he steps up to the line with a .22lr pistol, who broke what state and federal laws?
Someone braver than I (and better-funded) could probably parlay some of these thoughts into an interesting federal lawsuit aimed at gutting federal regulation of handguns and Any Other Weapons separate from rifles, and then leverage that into breaking up the asinine regulation of Short-Barreled-Rifles. A similar strategy using a Taurus Judge (or variant) with a smoothbore barrel will do in Short-Barreled-Shotguns. As I said in my previous post, we have a recognized individual right to possess a functional firearm, particularly a handgun. From that, and the amazing modularity of modern weaponry, follows the conclusion that there is no justification for regulating any semi-automatic firearm (long arm or handgun, smoothbore or rifled barrel) in a different fashion than any other.
Please follow through to The Lair: Two Handguns, One Lawsuit (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 3) for a slightly tweaked hypothetical intended as a direct attack on the definitions of short-barreled rifle and handgun as separate from rifle.