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How to Destroy an AR-15

Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to destroy its stock of assault weapons – here’s how you can follow suit

How To Destroy an AR-15

The AR-15 rifle is commonly used in mass shootings.

Charles Krupa/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Dick’s Sporting Goods has infuriated the NRA by opting to destroy its remaining stock of assault-style rifles and accessories. Dick’s removed the firearms from the shelves of its 35 Field & Stream stores in February, after 17 people were killed and 17 more wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The company confirmed to Rolling Stone its plans to fully destroy the guns, first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week, rather than return them to the manufacturers or offload them to another distributor.

“We are in the process of destroying all firearms and accessories that are no longer for sale as a result of our February 28th policy change,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We are destroying the firearms in accordance with federal guidelines and regulations.”

The federal guidelines that outline the destruction of an assault-style or “modern sporting” rifle like the AR-15, are derived from two laws: the National Firearms Act of 1934, drafted in response to prohibition-era mafia violence, and the Gun Control Act of 1968, prompted by the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

To meet the requirements under the NFA and GCA, the firearm frame or receiver “must be destroyed by completely shredding, melting, or crushing.” Alternatively, the ATF also offers the option of “destroying firearms through torch cuts.”

A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms says that while the agency provides guidelines on destroying guns, Dick’s will have to complete the destruction itself.

“It’s going to be totally up to the company – however they want to do it,” Special Agent Joshua Jackson tells Rolling Stone. “We’re not part of that process; we don’t collect the destroyed items.”

What the ATF does do is provide Dick’s – and anyone else interested in destroying an AR-15, machine gun or other weapon – step-by-step instructions on the most effective method to get the job done.

If you have one of these guns at home and want to destroy it, yourself, here’s how:

First, you’ll need a blowtorch. According to the bureau’s official guidelines, “cutting by means of a band saw or cut-off wheel does not ensure destruction.”

Next, you’ll need to disassemble the rifle, separating the firearm frame or receiver from the rest of the gun. In order to be rendered fully inoperable, the receiver – the part of the gun that holds the hammer, bolt or breechblock and firing mechanism in place – needs to be completely severed in three specific places.

Where you make the cuts depends on which model of gun you’re torching – ATF provides diagrams for a Browning M1919 type firearm, a Heckler & Koch G3 type firearm and Sten type firearm – and to destroy an AR-15, the ATF recommends following its guidelines for the FN/FAL rifle.

The first cut will pass through the threaded portion of the receiver ring and magazine well opening at the bottom of the frame. Next, you’ll sever the hinge pin, ejector block and bolt guide rails. Finally, you’ll need to burn through the body locking lug and bolt guide rails. Be careful to ensure that each cut fully severs the frame.

Per ATF guidelines, “All cutting must be done with a cutting torch having a tip of sufficient size to displace at least ¼ inch of material at each location.”

That’s it! Three cuts with a blow torch and you’re done. 

In This Article: Gun control

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