Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is a Firearm? The ATF Definition

This is from the ATF website:

Gun Control Act Definitions

Define: Firearm

Defined Under: 18 U.S.C., § 921(a)(3)

This section is intended to provide basic guidance in understanding firearm terminology. Please bear in mind that these illustrations do not necessarily depict importable firearms.

The term “Firearm” means:

Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;

B. The frame or receiver of any such weapon;

C. Any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or
D. Any destructive device.

Firearm Frame or Receiver

That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel, is considered a firearm per 27 CFR § 478.11. 

--- This is per the ATF


  1. So, Am I to be led that an AR lower reciever is not a firearm?

    1. yes, just in atf is so angry they bite railroad ties and spit 8 pt nuts and bolts, this was recently discovered by attorneys.but everyone has been under the erroneous idea that ar lowers is a firearm .but by definition it fails. not readily converted to fire ,no bolt ,no barrel attachment .you can put in a fully loaded magazine into your lower but it will not fire ever .and they cant change the law ( legally).has to go back to congress/senate

  2. Does this mean that if I put a piece of pipe strapped to a wooden board and then put a bullet in the pipe, and then put a piece ofmetal against the bullet with a hole in it, and then used a nail andhammer to set off the bullet, the board and pipe would be a firearm?

    1. Hello Jenny,
      While you pose a great question, I posted this info because some of my readers were asking me what constitutes a firearm? Since this comes straight from the BATF website, I frankly don't know how the "authorities" would "interpret" something like you're describing. Since the definition says, "Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive" -- it's possible that law enforcement may say that what you describe is a "firearm." Keep in mind that "homemade-firearms" are confiscated in prisons and coming across the border all the time.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. Im waiting for plasma energy blasters with a touch screen "trigger" as there will be no "projectile" and no "mechanical trigger"
    So we can all have blasters, as they are not a "firearm"

  4. A firearm is any type of weapon that will take ammunition. A cap gun however is NOT a firearm. It is a toy made to look like a firearm. At least I think that's what it means.


Thank you for your comment.