When the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized a shipment of 30 Airsoft Rifles back in October at the port in Tacoma, Washington many thought the the ATF had gone overboard. Now it seems at least one of the critics has changed his tune. The stance that ATF took back in October was that the Airsoft Rifle could easily be converted into a live round firing AR-15 assault rifle.
The United States government has regulations about convicted felons, illegal immigrants, and a host of others who are banned from buying guns in the U.S. Still, there is no laws against them buying "toy guns" lke the Airsoft Rifle. The Airsoft is a paintball style gun, without the paint. They are propane powered guns that shoot plastic pellets and are often used in recreation and for police and military training.
Leo Gonnuscio, who voiced his discontent with ATF after the seizure has changed his tune, he now knows that the Airsoft can be converted into an AR-15. Gonnuscio told Fox News that it was quite simple to make the necessary modifications to the toy gun. According to Gonnuscio
, "All you have to do is drill one hole.”
From there he explained that the rest was even easier as all the parts, except for the AR-15 receiver, can be purchased anywhere, unregulated by anyone. That means a child, terrorist, illegal immigrant or anyone banned from purchasing a gun in the United States can get the necessary pieces. The receiver is the only part that has a serial number and is traced and monitored. But, the receiver is not necessary to convert the Airsoft to a semi-automatic rifle.
In the end Gonnusico says it would cost roughly $1,100 to get the Airsoft gun, and to acquire the necessary parts to make the changes. That is more than purchasing the actual AR-15, but that is also considering if
you can purchase one, hence the reason people are trying to convert the toys over.
The Airsoft guns continue to be sold in stores around the country, but ATF spokesperson Drew Wade
told Fox News, "We’re having to take a serious look at this, so it’s just something that we’re reviewing, and I’m hoping we’ll have some information that we can make available to the public certainly very soon."
Still, firearms expert Len Savage says that the ATF is looking at the wrong parts of the weapon. Savage claims that the receiver isn't as pivotal, in the case of the AR-15 anything can be made into the receiver. Savage goes so far as to say that tape and cardboard would do the trick. That part that is most important and goes unregulated is the upper part of the weapon. According to Savage
, "The ATF is regulating the wrong part as a firearm receiver, not the part that goes bang. The upper is what contains the barrel, the breech or bolt, that’s what contains all the pressure.”
So why does the receiver have the serial number on it? According to Savage that is because it was the easiest to mark, it was a hard, flat surface and thus it was an easy place to put it.
Gonnusico hopes that ATF will start banning the Airsoft rifles and then force the manufacturers to make changes to their design. “I would hope that the ATF applies pressure to the manufacturers of these airsoft guns to redesign them so they cannot be converted," Gonnusico
said. "Make them move the pin holes ... so that an upper can’t be attached to it without major machining.
Gonnusico also feels that if ATF banned the Airsoft that its manufacturers would have no option but to change the design to get them approved. The United States is such a huge market for toy guns that they would have no option.