Video of a gun owner cutting his AR-15 in half quickly went viral. In the footage, he used a miter saw to cut through the barrel of the gun, creating two distinct pieces. However, even though his aim was to destroy the firearm, the internet was fast to point out that he didn’t accomplish his goal.
Scott-Dani Pappalardo, motivated to destroy his legally acquired AR-15 after the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, created a video where he thoroughly explains his decision.
After his monolog, Pappalardo takes the firearm, which he was holding throughout the video, and uses a miter saw to cut it in half, declaring that there is “one less” AR-15 that could potentially harm someone.
But, internet viewers were quick to announce that Pappalardo didn’t actually destroy the weapon. Instead, he simply shortened it, taking a legal AR-15 and turning it into an illegal firearm.
According to Popular Mechanics, the barrel and gas tube of the AR-15 were cut, but the weapon could still be fired in that state. Plus, the barrel length was then below the 16-inch federal minimum for long guns, making it illegal.
Technically, Pappalardo committed a felony in the video based on the National Firearms Act. The action could carry serious penalties, including a prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines amounting up to $250,000.
Pappalardo did later post a picture that shows the AR-15 in three pieces, but even that isn’t enough to satisfy the ATF requirements for destroying the weapon. In fact, a saw alone can’t meet the ATF standards, as a blowtorch is needed so that at least a quarter inch of the material can be displaced.
The ATF standards focus on the lower receiver and require that a blowtorch be used to cut the section of the firearm three times.
It is unlikely that Pappalardo will face federal-level charges, though the incident does highlight how specific requirements for destroying a firearm can be and, that when done improperly, the resulting state of the weapon can be more dangerous, and even illegal.
Generally, if guidance is required, the ATF is willing to provide people with information regarding the proper destruction of firearms.