BATFE Drops 80% Receiver Case in California; Fears Precedent


BATFE Drops 80% Receiver Case in California; Fears Precedent
BATFE Drops 80% Receiver Case in California; Fears Precedent


Arizona -( In 2014, Joseph Roh had a business that dealt in firearms parts. As part of the business, he facilitated the production of lower receivers for AR-15 type firearms, from 80% receivers, in California. In the business, he or his employees would set up the 80% receiver in a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling machine. Then, they required the customer to “push the green button”. BATFE believed this made the business one that was manufacturing firearms without a license. Roh was arrested in 2014. From

Through his business, ROHG Industries in La Habra, Roh allegedly started with unfinished lower receivers for AR-15-style firearms. A lower receiver is the frame of a completed firearm that holds the trigger and hammer. An unfinished lower receiver, when machined further, constitutes a firearm. Roh and his employees would finish the lower receivers by machining the devices with a computer-numerically-controlled—or CNC—machine and drill presses that Roh maintained at the La Habra warehouse.

Roh attempted to avoid the licensing requirement by requiring that each customer play a token role in the manufacturing process, which often meant merely pushing a button on a CNC machine, while company employees did the vast majority of the work.

While the sale of unfinished lower receivers is not regulated, the manufacture and sale of completed lower receivers—which are considered firearms under federal law—requires a proper license.

Additionally, Roh would, if the customer wanted, assemble the rest of the firearm by adding an upper receiver, a barrel, and other necessary parts to the lower receiver. Roh has agreed to surrender tomorrow and be arraigned on the indictment tomorrow afternoon in United States District Court.

Joseph Roh had assets. He hired a competent attorney,  Gregory Nicolaysen. reports Nicolaysen grilled ATF officials on what the definition of a firearm is, according to their regulations.

The judge ruled BATFE had not followed proper procedures when they created the regulations, and the definition of what was a firearm was unconstitutionally vague.

According to, BATFE officials agreed to a plea deal to stop the judges ruling from having any legal effect. A plea deal would not require the judge to make a ruling; the tentative ruling would not become a part of the case. From

At issue in Roh’s case was whether the law could fairly be interpreted to apply to just the lower receiver of the AR-15, as the ATF has been doing for decades.

To rule otherwise “would sweep aside more than 50 years of the ATF’s regulation of AR-15s and other semiautomatic firearms,” prosecutors wrote prior to the judge’s order.

Federal law enforcement officials — and members of Congress — have been on notice about a potential problem with the language in federal gun law as applied to AR-15s since at least 2016.

In July of that year, prosecutors in Northern California abandoned a case against a convicted felon named Alejandro Jimenez after a judge found that the AR-15 lower receiver he was accused of purchasing in an ATF undercover sting did not meet the definition of a receiver under the law.

The ruling and subsequent dismissal drew little notice but prompted a letter to Congress from then-US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. She advised lawmakers that the judge’s decision was not suitable for appeal and that if ATF officials believed the definition should be changed, they should pursue regulatory or administrative action.

BATFE’s sloppy rule making and lack of oversight may be catching up to them. While they avoided a legally binding ruling in this case, the facts are now widely known. Any attorney or person charged with illegally making an AR-15 would be justified in using the same defense used by Joseph Roh.

The ruling is *not* about the Second Amendment, nor is it about the right to make your own firearms, which logically is part of the Second Amendment. It is about BATFE’s sloppy procedures and vague rulings which have not been subject to proper oversight.

This ruling will have little effect on gun owners, at least immediately. However, there are numerous other rulings that may be subject to the same analysis and scrutiny.

I suspect ongoing court cases about what constitutes a suppressor are incentivizing the BATFE to be cautious in prosecuting people on dubious “silencer” cases.

Whether the Gun Control Act of 1968 had a positive or negative effect on crime is controversial.

Immediately after the law was passed, crime and murder rates skyrocketed. In 1968 the murder rate was 7.3 per 100,000 population and rising.  In 1980 it peaked at 10.1.  The murder rate  did not come down to 1968 levels  until 1997 (6.8 per 100,000 population) in the United States. By that time the concealed carry revolution was well underway.

There are over 400 million firearms in private hands in the United States. Prior to 1968, there was very little regulation of firearms. People could order semi-automatic anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns and ammunition through the mail.

Prior to 1968, there was very little regulation of firearms. People could order semi-automatic anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns and ammunition through the mail.

Only one crime was recorded with these weapons; a pair of them were stolen from a dealer and used to blast a hole in a vault. No one was injured in the crime.

There is no serious evidence gun control laws impact the crime rate. Crime rates in Europe were not affected when European countries enacted their gun control laws.

If the Gun Control Act of 1968 were repealed today, the crime rate would not be affected a measurable amount.

Gun control laws have always been more about political control than about public safety.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Get Out

They shouldn’t let the BATFE off of the hook, they’ll come back at a later date and try to do it all over again hoping people will forget their back door gun control efforts.


FYI for those of you who not aware of the facts about the GCA of 68. Said Law was authored by D Senator Thomas J. Dodd. Dodd was a; JAG lawyer in the US Army in WW 2. He was involved with the Nuremberg trial and Operation Paperclip. He had a copy of the NAZI Weapons Act of 1938. He had the Library of Congress translate said document into English, and it became almost word for word t(e GCA of 68. Isn’t that jus5 F*cking wonderful?!

Wild Bill

@Hippy, I have a copy of it on my shelf. Got it from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms ownership.


I want to cry, a working 25 mm cannon for $125.00…. You see the freedoms being taken away in YOUR lifetime and try to fight for them but if you look at the bigger picture ie, what’s been taken away In just the last 100 years is disgusting and I’m not just talking about firearms.
I gotta say I’m really getting tired of being told how I have to live my life by the absolute scum of the earth.

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

“Gun control laws have always been more about political control than about public safety.”


I Agree.


is an interesting video that supports your point.


All 23,000+ gun laws; federal, state, and local ARE INFRINGEMENTS THAT MUST BE REPEALED. NO COMPROMISE!

I will accept nothing less than the original gun control law, The Second Amendment, that is supposed to control government.

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

Let’s start with the “Dick” act from 1903 that did away with the first 13 words of the 2nd amendment! Which may be the most important 13 words in the whole constitution and the ONLY place the word NECESSARY is used.

The Dick Act has been replaced many times. Just look it up in Wikipedia. And most people here are quite aware that a federal statute can not do away with any part of the Constitution. See Supremacy Clause and Please see Marbury v Madison.


NO ONE with a brain uses wikipedia. Wikipedia is a leftist trash bin and tells everyone they DO NOT check for accuracy on anything.
Try a REAL encyclopedia, Mild Bill.


Marbury v Madison isn’t Wikipedia. If you weren’t so busy trying to find any excuse to attack Wild Bill for stating something you don’t want to accept, perhaps you would have noticed he gave two non Wikipedia sources.

So not only is there Marbury v Madison, there is also Murdock v Pennsylvania, Miranda v Arizona, and Shuttlesworth V Birmingham, Alabama that cover states and cities as well. All of which reaffirm the Supremacy clause, as Wild Bill stated.


In actuality the Legal Law Of The land the ” Constitution ” dictates that any law pertaining to firearms is illegal, The Supreme Court decision of 1803 stated that ” Any Law Repugnant to the Constitution was NULL and VOID ” also applies and any court deciding against the Constitution is committing an act of treason. Courts and Laws must follow the Constitution or they are really breaking the Law of the Land. That is a Federal Crime.


Sir, I believe what you said, have many large books that interpret the constitution and their are a whole lot of constitutional lawyers out there, why haven’t these facts and laws been brought up and fought for?


I read a piece just last week that Trump is working on a new EO that will bring all “guidance” matters under control, and subject them to COngress once more, as they always should have been. If I understand the principle of the proposed action, all “guidance” (rules, definitions, policies, findings, etc ) from any Fed agency that has force of law will be reeled back in and sucject to COngressional oversight. AND it will require that all “adnimistrative hearings” over these “guidance” issues will have to be conducted under general court rules… target of the actioni MUST be able… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Tio, sounds like Trump has found a new appreciation for traditional due process! Ain’t that a coincidence.

Wild Bill

@USA, What do you mean?

Wild Bill

@USA, Who had … “a Plan for many years long before Trump to take the country back and restore the original Republic… “? And what does the “… well laid Plan that was in place…” consist of. Does it have a name? How can I find this well laid Plan?
I think that everyone would be interested in this well laid plan, if it in fact exists.


@USA; Yep! I am sure this was discussed by 0b0z0 and his Anti-American cabal. They wanted to make sure this could not happen in America. Their thought was gods forbid the American People will have the Constitutional rules and laws correctly applied.


The BATF is very useful to congress. They do the rule making that congress is responsible for and they take the heat when something goes awry. Congress goes free of any negative repercussions because they didn’t make the rule that the public doesn’t like. I think it is safe to say they are congress’ scapegoat. The problem is that it is congress job to write laws, not an alphabet agency.

Wild Bill

@Tcat, Yep, and as long as they are useful to Congress, the BATFE will remain a mill stone around our necks.

Wild Bill

@USA, What the agencies write are not really laws, because only Congress can legislate. What the agencies write are regulations. These regulations are, collectively, known as the Code of Federal Regulations, and they have ” the force and effect of law”. It is a scam perpetrated by FDR


BATFE is a rogue organization with no oversight and literally gets away with murder. Their rules, all of them, are unconstitutional as is their very existence. The fact that they skated around the judge’s ruling which would have made their actions and regulation null and void is just one more example of the BAFTE’s (and all other Federal law enforcement agencies) rogue status and total lack of any meaningful accountability (justice) for their actions.

Wild Bill

@JPM, Yes, and I remember a 1970s court case where an Illinois HP was accused by ATF of having a full auto weapon. The highway bull had a good lawyer that forced the ATF lab techs to admit, in open court, that the weapon would not fire full auto until they modified it. BATFE has a long history of corruption.
Many here have wisely observed that it is long past time for BATFE to go.


@USA; We the People have to begin SOMEPLACE with the elimination of these “assigned” bureaucratic offices that are running AMUCK. At least I see President Trump TRYING to bring OUR government BACK to the Constitution with it INTENT to protect WE THE PEOPLE.

Wild Bill

@Laddy, I was reading in the Federal Times that DJT was working to extend the probationary period (of no employee rights) to three years.
It is hard for a schmuck to behave for three whole years.

Wild Bill

@USA, That is an awful lot of people to audit. If it were true that every employee were under investigation, then there would have to be a lot more investigators. If it were true, everyone would know because fed’s leak “secrets”. Where do you get this stuff?

Wild Bill

@USA, Why seventy percent? Seventy percent seems like a random and arbitrary number.


Politicians and bureaucrats, who is the greater evil? On one hand it’s the politicians who appoint or confirm their cronies, on the other it’s a lifetime bureaucrat that once appointed does not answer to anyone. Even the government that placed them in position has no power or authority to intervene quickly should they get out of hand. These powerful agencies can seemingly get away with creating national policy and passing it off as law. These cells exist at all levels of government, federal, state, county and beyond. Here’s a true account how one bureaucracy came to be: California government used… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Mike J, How is that again …”‘ “the state has no jurisdiction regarding the toll or rate increases”. “” If the thing occurs or exists within California, then California has jurisdiction over it, someway or another.
I think that your Ca elected employee was shuckin’ an jivin’ ya.


What, an alphabet agency misleading the citizenry? Imagine that! The judicial branch cannot escape blame here, even though a couple judges had a problem with the broad and vague definition of firearm via 27 CFR 478.11 (15 USC Chapter 18), and rightfully so! We should not forget the Court’s also found relying on an alphabet agency ruling or advise, one does so at their own peril. Where have all the so called 2nd Amendment lawyers been all this time and all these groups who say they fight for the 2nd Amendment while bombarding its members with marketing schemes seeking more… Read more »


Administrative law is the cause of all the ills of the government. When an unelected government worker can arbitrarily make law from thin air it is usually not well thought out and has holes in it as wide as the big ditch. All laws are to be made in the house and senate followed by the POTUS signing it into law. Over the years the elected representatives and senators have relinquished this duty to bureaucrats as political cover so they can shift blame for their incompetence. Once we stand up to the elected officials and demand they do their jobs… Read more »


It’s not just congress that does this. Not too long ago President Trump had the BATFE do the exact same thing with bump stocks.


None of this is surprising. Look for more CYA moves by BATFE in the future. I am a survivor of working in state government for over 40 years, but I never quite fit in. My work was in a highly technical field, but far removed from areas covered by BATFE. At times mine was the only job available for someone with my specialty, so I held my tongue and stayed. My most important takeaway principle is that in any highly technical area a government or government agency will act incompetently most of the time as will most officials. Sometimes this… Read more »


The push for “diversity” was one of the most corrupting forces in the Federal workplace that I observed over 22&1/2 years.

Wild Bill

@ScottMc, I’d enjoy to read more. Which state?


@SM: Have you never heard of the advancement in a government job setting? I goes something like this; A person is elevated to the highest level of incompetency that can be endured. This is when elevating an employee ends.

Wild Bill

@Laddy, You mean the Peter Principle? Lots of federal employees get promoted well beyond their competency, just to get them stationed elsewhere. And then there is the slime! I knew a guy that could not golf, but carried the District Directors clubs to get promoted to supervisor. He ended up an ASAC, got caught having affairs with subordinates, going home rather than to his “second office”, and stealing.


As we used to say, “Power is determined by the amount, and kind, of dirt you know about those above you.”


Excellent article, and with luck maybe we can move this farther.

Wild Bill

@Rev, Yeah, but how?


@Wild Bill Ok, think of it this way. Remember what the anti’s wanted to do to the firearms industry? You know I have no faith in the courts, and will never, ever acknowledge any decision they make in regards to individual rights or specifically the abrogation of them. However, why not bring suit after suit, multiple plaintiffs all targeting different states, state officials, bureaus, and overload the system. The only caveat is that it must come from people in states who have been targeted by these actions, though the rest of us could help with either coalitions of groups such… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Rev, Bringing suit after suit etc that is a lot of lawyers. Lawyers are expensive. I don’t think that even Wayne LaPierre has that many suits.


@Wild Bill
Sorry it took so long to get back to you, this article refused to load for me last night. Ultimately, we would have to finance it, whether through crowd funding, or non profit go betweens. The idea would be to put support behind people with legitimate claim to the causes to bring a suit.

The idea is to overwhelm and stretch their forces thin, and as you tried to educate tetejaun earlier, ignore acts we know to be in violation of the Constitution anyway. If that makes sense.

Wild Bill

@USA, Who is funding all this?

Henry Bowman

If the GCA 1968 were scrapped, all you would have is millions of people able to exercise their rights with levels of freedom not seen in generations, scores of new people exploring their rights, new start ups, new inventions, new wealth, and more and more people enjoying the joys of Liberty…..So as we all know Dems and useful idiot Repubs, Cultural Marxists and Cuckservatives can not allow nots to be fixed, that would put them out of means to achieve total power and rule with an iron fist and an excuse to pan handle, so we all have to suffer… Read more »


During the rapist Bill Clinton administration: 1. the BATF routinely kicked open the doors on “identified” American homes and machine gunned down the occupants. On many occasions, the BATF was at the wrong address. 2. On a number of occasions the BATF kicked open the doors at homes, placed the handcuffed occupants in their underwear on the lawn and had a pizza party of the homeowner’s credit card. 3. On a number of recorded incidents, the BATF machine gunned the family dog, a small toy dog, and on one occasion a BATF agent STOMPED the family kitten then placed the… Read more »


@Te: Do you have information where some of your “examples” can be found and read? I would find this VERY interesting.


NOT opinion. Obviously you are TOO YOUNG to have lived through those times.
EVERYTHING I posted is fact. During the rapist Bill Clinton admin, the BATE was a terrorist organization. Still is.


Most ALL of that can be found in NRA files. You can probably get copies from NRA.
Also, the BATF and FBI attacked a church in Waco, TX and shot , gassed and burned alive American men, women, children and infants.
Any library should have old periodicals to view.

Dave C

Be careful when you poke the sleeping bear…..


Just do a little GOOGLING on how many CITIZENS/SUBJECTS were murdered in the 19th century by their OWN Governments, AFTER taking away the publics ownership of firearms.
Well over 100 million, think it can’t happen here?, just read what the FOUNDERS wrote.


I think you meant to write 20th century. And you are correct about the slaughter.

Ej harbet

Alway had a thing for either a ptrd or ptrs! Noticed the add for. A $99 ptrs.
Sks on steroids.


When I was a kid,I could(if I had the money, I didn’t),buy a like new 1903A3, or a Brit Enfield .303,for like $12.00 in a local Pawn shop. Garand’s were around $50.00,way to much $$$ for a kid.
No age limit,no paperwork, just pay for it and leave.


It will be very interesting to see how similar cases are handled in the future.

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

Yea, but too bad they won’t stand behind their “void” by prosecuting any fed who tries to infringe on their citizens rights.

@CL, State prosecutions of Federal Agents are removed to federal court (e.g. the FBI sniper that killed Mrs Weaver was charged and prosecuted in that county. The case was removed to Fed Court.)
What was that snipers name? Lon something.


Lon Horiuchi


And just to gladden everyone’s hearts here, the Attorney that handled that case for the Feds was none other than Bil Barr,/ Yes, our present AtG. Ain’t that fun?

Wild Bill

@Tio, Most depressing.


@Wild Bill
And that is why some people start getting very touchy when you mention Donald Trumps appointee’s.

Wild Bill

@OM, Yep, that is the asshole.