I received this in May of 2011 and forgot I had it.... My own inquiry to the ATF and here is the response.
From: Powell, Michael
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 1:35 PM
To: EPS Directorate
Cc: Vasquez, Richard; Spencer, John R.
Subject: RE: Scale Gatling gun
This refers to your e-mail correspondence to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) pertaining to the lawfulness of manufacturing a .22 caliber miniature Gatling gun (barrel length of 10 inches) for personal use. Your correspondence was forwarded to ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch (FTB), Martinsburg, West Virginia, for reply.
As background, the amended Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), defines the term “firearm” to include …any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive…[and]…the frame or receiver of any such weapon….
Please note also that the GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(7), defines “rifle” to mean, in part, …a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder….
Further, the National Firearms Act (NFA), 26 U.S.C. § 5845(, defines “machinegun” as follows:
…any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. This term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
For your information, per provisions of the GCA, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution. Individuals manufacturing a firearm for personal use are not required to submit a sample to ATF for approval. However, if the design of the firearm were questionable, it would be prudent for such individuals to seek the advice of ATF prior to manufacture.
Also, based on the GCA, manufacturers’ marks of identification are not required on firearms that are produced by individuals for personal use. Nevertheless, ATF recommends the placing of marks of identification on these weapons at the time of manufacture. This procedure would aid law enforcement authorities in identifying the firearm should it become lost or stolen.
Generally, a Gatling gun is a rapid-firing, hand-crank operated weapon, having a bore diameter of .50 caliber or less and, as produced under the patents of 1862-1893, employing a cam action to accomplish the functions of repeat cocking, firing, and ejecting, in a caliber for which ammunition is commercially available. If manufactured after 1898, it would be classified as a “firearm” as defined in the GCA, § 921(a)(3).
However, if a Gatling gun as described above uses an electric motor as a firing mechanism instead of hand cranking, it would be classified as a “firearm” and a “machinegun” as defined in the NFA provision noted, § 5845(. That is why electrically-driven machineguns such as the M-134 Minigun are firearms and machineguns subject to the provisions of the NFA. Frames or receivers of such weapons are also machineguns regardless of whether or not other components are present.
Based on the information provided, FTB has found that should you produce a manually operated Gatling gun chambered for .22 caliber, it would be classified as a “firearm” per the GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3). It would not be subject to regulation under the provisions of the NFA. Additionally, a hand-cranked Gatling gun is not considered a “rifle” because it is not designed to be fired from the shoulder; therefore, a 10-inch barrel, as you propose, is lawful.
We caution that this determination is relevant to the item as proposed. Any alterations or modifications to the design as produced under the patents of 1862-1893—which, as indicated, employ a cam action for repeat cocking, firing, and ejecting—would subject the item to further review. Also, we recommend that you to contact law-enforcement authorities where you reside to determine if there are any State laws or local ordinances governing the production of such weapons.
We thank you for your inquiry and trust the foregoing has been responsive.
New Atf Letter
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