The Legal Aspects of Modifying AR15 Uppers

Modifying AR-15 uppers, like any firearm-related activity, is subject to various legal regulations, which can vary depending on your location. It’s crucial to understand the legal aspects of modifying your AR-15 upper to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Here are some important legal considerations:

1. Federal Laws:

a. National Firearms Act (NFA): The NFA regulates certain firearms, including short-barreled rifles (SBRs), short-barreled shotguns (SBSs), and firearms classified as “any other weapons” (AOWs). If you intend to modify your AR15 Complete Upper in a way that falls under these categories, you may need to apply for the appropriate tax stamp and follow the required registration process with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

b. Destructive Devices: Modifying your AR-15 upper to include devices like grenades or rocket launchers is illegal under federal law. Possession of such destructive devices is strictly regulated and typically requires ATF approval and registration.

2. State Laws:

State laws regarding firearms and their modifications can vary significantly. Some states have stricter regulations than federal laws, while others are more permissive. Be aware of your state’s specific laws regarding AR-15 upper modifications, particularly in relation to features like barrel length, muzzle devices, and magazine capacity. Research your state’s laws and consult with local law enforcement or legal counsel if you have questions.

3. Local Laws:

Municipalities and local jurisdictions may have their own firearms laws and restrictions. These can relate to magazine capacity, firearm storage, and modifications. Be sure to check local ordinances in your area.

4. 80% Lowers and DIY Builds:

Manufacturing your AR-15 upper from an 80% lower receiver or other components is generally legal for personal use, but it’s essential to be aware of your jurisdiction’s laws. Selling, transferring, or manufacturing firearms for sale without the appropriate licenses is illegal under federal law.

5. Magazine Capacity:

Magazine capacity restrictions vary by location. Some areas limit the maximum number of rounds a magazine can hold. Ensure you comply with these limits if applicable.

6. Restricted Accessories:

Some accessories, such as suppressors, certain types of grips, and forward pistol grips, may be regulated or prohibited in certain areas. Ensure you are aware of local restrictions on these items.

7. Background Checks and Purchases:

If you are purchasing components or accessories for your AR-15 upper, you may be subject to federal and state background check requirements. Follow all legal procedures for purchasing firearms or related parts.

8. Responsible Ownership:

Finally, it’s essential to practice responsible firearm ownership. Keep your firearms secure and away from unauthorized individuals, especially if you have made modifications that could impact safety.

Given the complexity and variability of firearm laws, it is advisable to seek legal counsel or consult local law enforcement to ensure you are in compliance with all relevant regulations before making any modifications to your AR-15 upper. Staying informed and adhering to legal requirements is crucial for responsible firearm ownership.