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West Hurley Rear Sights

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#1 Norm


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Posted 24 June 2004 - 11:07 AM

I found this on the web.

This is just some of the transcrips:

Cite as Auto Ordnance Corp v. U.S., 822 F.2d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1987)



The UNITED STATES, Appellee.

Appeal No. 86-1569.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.

July 2, 1987.

Plaintiff, Auto-Ordnance Corp., a manufacturer of semi-
automatic carbines sued to recover excise taxes assessed pursuant
to 26 U.S.C. section 4181 on the "added value" of adjustable rear
sights and front sight and compensator units sold with certain car-
bines that it manufactured. Auto-Ordnance appeals from an order of
the United States Claims Court, which granted the defendant's
motion for summary judgment and dismissed its complaint.

The questions presented on this appeal are whether the Claims
Court erred in finding that the adjustable rear sights and front
sight and compensator units, manufactured and sold with the Auto-
Ordnance carbines, were component parts of a complete firearm and
subject to the excise tax imposed by 26 U.S.C. section 4181, or
whether the sights and compensators were tax-exempt "accessories"
of firearms. This is a question of first impression for this

The issue before this court is a narrow one: whether the
Commissioner properly imposed the excise tax on firearms on the
additional value of the adjustable rear sight (rear sight) and the
front sight and compensator that were part of the appellant's
Deluxe Model carbine. The stipulated facts are that the appellant
"advertised the Deluxe Model and the Standard Model as separate
models" of the carbine; that its price list showed separate prices
for each of those models; and that in the Deluxe Model the rear
sight was "pop riveted" to the carbine at the factory, and the
front sight and compensator were installed at the factory. The
stipulated facts also are that the Deluxe Model has three addi-
tional features not present in the Standard Model.

In other words, the Deluxe Model was sold as a single unit
that included as two of its features the rear sight and the front
sight and compensator that the Standard Model did not have. This
is not a case where the product is sold in a stripped-down standard
version to which the purchaser could add various refinements. The
two elements in dispute here were integral parts of the complete
weapon sold as the Deluxe Model.

Neither the statute nor the regulations define the term
"accessories," which are excluded from the excise tax on firearms.
Section 48.4181-1(a)(2) of the regulations, however, states that no
tax is imposed on the sale of "parts or accessories ... when sold
separately or when sold with a complete firearm." It then explains
that no tax attaches to "various parts," which it lists, "when sold
separately, or when sold with complete firearms for use as spare
parts or accessories."

Although the rear sight and the front sight and compensator of
the Deluxe Model may be viewed as having been "sold with complete
firearms," they were not sold "for use as spare parts or
accessories." They were integral elements of the Deluxe Model,
which was sold as a single unit.

The fact that the carbine could be fired without either the
rear sight or the front sight and compensator on it, or that it
could be fired from the hip without sighting, does not support the
conclusion that those two elements were accessories. There is no
reason to believe that the Deluxe Model is not designed and
intended to be fired in the usual manner, namely, by aiming at the
target through the sights. One of the stipulated facts is that
"[t]he combination of the front sight and the rear sight of the
Deluxe Model enabled an average marksman to aim the Deluxe Model
more accurately than he could with no sight or just one sight."

The rear sight and front sight and compensator of the Deluxe
Model are not merely accessories, the use of which facilitates,
improves, or alters the performance of the carbine. They are
integral parts of the weapon that have a significant role in its
performance and that presumably influence people to select that
model rather than the Standard Model that does not have those

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