I'd say it's less like everyone being a lawyer, and more like a Constitutional Convention in miniature :) In any case, I think it can be argued that ordinary people are probably in just as appropriate a position to argue these points as professional lawyers. I'll grant you that not all the arguments are created equally, but even the badly-argued ones or the simply silly ones are at least entertaining, and have a chance of yielding satisfying food for serious thought.
I suppose that it's not too far out of line to mention that there are spring-loaded or crank-driven trigger devices that simulate full-auto fire which are currently unregulated, and there really aren't any laws against the practice of bump-firing an SKS, which can achieve a similar effect. This would not really convert your SKS into a full-auto weapon, it does not pemanently or irreversibly alter the weapon, and it currently doesn't cause too much trouble with the police in most of the U.S. or the ATF. Before trying one of the trigger devices, I recommend researching them, and it might not be a bad idea to write a nice letter to the ATF to make sure it's alright, if you don't trust your own research.
For anyone wondering the same thing the original poster was, I think these are the relevant points of the ensuing argument:
- though it can be debated ad-nauseum whether the U.S. and/or state governments have lawful, Constitutional authority to regulate the manufacture or ownership of any firearm, the fact is these governments claim that authority anyway, and any decision to challenge that authority through civil disobedience carries the risk that you would find yourself virtually alone against everything the government can throw at you; thus, I recommend picking such fights with caution
- manufacturing a full-auto weapon will require an investment of money, time, research, and legal and federal supervision that few ordinary people can commit to, and it's unlikely you'll easily get approval to legally convert an SKS to a machinegun
- aside from the gun laws, pretty much any gun, including the SKS, can be made into a machinegun: the possibilities are limited only by the gunsmith's enginuity, time, effort, tools, and materials
- the SKS is an aging rifle was not designed to be full-auto, and could potentially pose a safety risk upon conversion whether legal or illegal; any such conversion would ruin any value the rifle has as a curio/relic; left in its original configuration, the SKS is a fine collectible semi-auto rifle and a lot of fun to shoot as it is
- purchasing transferrable machineguns is legal; most such machineguns would have been full-auto before the 1980's, they're relatively uncommon and thus fairly expensive, and require extensive background checks and approval to transfer, but can afterward be owned by ordinary law-abiding U.S. citizens without license in most of the U.S.; this is probably more practical and preferable for almost anyone
- forums such as this reportedly find themselves visited from time to time by undercover Federal agents looking for troublemakers, fanatical gun control advocates looking for evidence to support claims of of rampantly irresponsible gun owners, trolls looking for any reaction, the occassional misguided "bubba" - a normal and well-meaning hobbiest with questionable judgement- providing badly-researched advice, and other unsavory characters who are looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble (whether they mean to or not); under the circumstances, questions like the one posed by the original poster instantly look suspicious; in that environment, it's best to follow the most cautious, conservative advice you find
- most U.S. gun owners respect and follow the law even if they don't always like or agree with it; I think you'll find it difficult to get strong support for any action that even seems illegal among the ranks of gun owners
- if you make a full-auto conversion anyway, you will have to do so on your own against the advice of most (if not all) of the regulars here, and take your chances that you won't get caught; you may wish to carefully weigh the benefits of the conversion against the risks before proceding
CTD's Curio & Relic Forum