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Felons, illegal immigrants and all others banned from buying a gun in the United States have a new alternative if they’re looking to get their hands on a firearm: Just buy a toy.

A FoxNews.com investigation reveals that a popular recreational pellet gun can be converted easily to a real semi-automatic weapon. And while the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is already aware of the issue, these “toys” — new, top-of-the-line airsoft rifles — continue to be sold throughout the country.

Like paintball without the paint, the propane-powered airsoft guns are designed to shoot quarter-inch plastic pellets and are generally used for recreation or in military and law enforcement training.

When the ATF seized a shipment of 30 of these guns in October from a port in Tacoma, Wash., it said they could be “readily convertible” to machine guns. But gun experts called that claim absurd and said the ATF was overstepping its bounds.

Now one of those critics is reversing his position, saying at least one airsoft manufacturer has taken the quest to be authentic a little too far.

“The airsoft can be converted to an AR-15,” firearms manufacturer Leo Gonnuscio told FoxNews.com after testing the make and model of airsoft guns seized by the ATF.

Having concluded that several other airsoft guns could not be converted to fire real ammunition, Gonnuscio said he was surprised to find that he was able to to transform this particular gun to the real thing — and with “minimal work,” because its bottom half, or “receiver,” is so similar to an AR-15’s.

To make the airsoft receiver function just like an AR-15’s, Gonnuscio said, “All you have to do is drill one hole.”

And once that’s out of the way, the rest is even easier. The AR-15 receiver is the only part of the semi-automatic rifle that is given a serial number, and is the only part that is regulated. All the remaining parts of the real thing can be purchased by anyone – any kid, criminal or terrorist.

The cost of buying the Taiwan-made airsoft gun and all the parts needed to convert it to an AR-15 comes to roughly $1,100 — more than the cost of some real AR-15s. But someone who can’t clear a background check or has been refused a gun for any other reason could use this method to make his own lethal weapon, Gonnuscio said.

Making it into a machine gun, he said, would require yet another conversion, and the makeshift gun would likely be able to fire only 15-20 rounds before it stopped working due to the pressure it would have to withstand while firing in an automatic fashion.

But as semi-automatic weapon, Gonnuscio said, “It may not last forever, but they’ve got a gun to get the job done that they were assigned to do, and nobody knows the wiser.”

Source: Diane Macedo Fox News.

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