As you know, pre-1986 machine guns, as long as they are registered, are completely legal to own. Under the law, the firearm itself is the receiver, which on an M1919 for example is just a metal plate.
The ATF ruled that a hand-cranked machine gun is legal (since it isn’t really a machine gun) but putting a motor on one makes it illegal.
A very nice replica of a Gatling gun is about $50,000. A transferable minigun is a quarter million dollars.
Since the difference between legal and illegal there is an electric motor, I guess electric motors are ATF regulated items, illegal to own, and cost $200,000 and have to be made before 1986. They aren’t.
The functional difference between a minigun and a Gatling gun? The minigun is electrically operated, and can be fed from a belt by using a delinker.
With essentially no functional difference between the two guns (a minigun is made of different metals, bearings, and is designed to run faster, but the operating mechanisms are pretty much exactly the same) that would mean the ATF registered part you would need to make a Gatling gun into a machine gun would be the electric motor.
Same as a drop-in autosear, you would need to find an electric motor that was registered as a machinegun prior to 1986 to be able to make something that was made in 1890, according to a book on the Gatling gun.
The law preventing creation and registration of new machine guns needs to be gotten rid of, since it is just stupid. In the above example, an electric motor would be the difference between a machine gun and not a machine gun. Well, technically, that is due to the NFA being pants on head retarded, but that is really for another post.
Of course, it is only illegal to hook a Gatling up to an electric motor. Technically, as it is human powered, a chain drive and a stationary bicycle would be within what the ATF has stated.
Whoever thinks up laws like these needs to be forced to comply with them, since most don’t.
As an ending thought:
Image from Oleg Volk’s Blog.
Seriously, help get rid of this law. It needs to be gone.
Same as an M1919 receiver, you make one of those, you go to jail. An M1919 receiver is a metal plate of specific dimensions with a specific hole pattern cut into it. Essentially, the law has made it illegal to have metal of the same dimension with a specific pattern of holes drilled in it.
Using the image example, it is illegal to have a block of metal of that dimension with a hole drilled through one end and a channel cut in the other.
It’s like a patent troll company that holds a patent over the process of using a drill to cut holes in metal, except they arrest you and fine you if you drill a specific pattern of holes.
Which is why I support getting rid of the ATF. One step at a time.