Legality of building your own gun from scratch?


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Reno
August 1, 2004, 06:29 PM
I'm an engineering student with a year-long design project coming up, and access to a CNC machine, and have been considering building a gun from raw materials (excluding springs and fasteners). I know that manufacturers need a type 07 FFL, but does building one for purely personal use require that license?

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Hkmp5sd
August 1, 2004, 06:51 PM
It's legal as long as the firearm meets all federal laws (ie not a machinegun or an "assault weapon") and there are no local laws prohibiting it. There is the problem of having a firearm on "school" property.

The Undertoad
August 1, 2004, 06:54 PM
DO NOT TAKE MY WORD FOR THIS- but I was discussing this with an old friend just a few days ago. He said it was legal to build a small number of firearms per year for personal use only and illegal to sell them.

I'm sure someone with more experience can chime in. :)

Reno
August 1, 2004, 07:02 PM
Well, it definately would not be a machine gun, probably not an "assault weapon" but with any luck the ban would be long gone by the time any construction begins.

I'd have to check on rules for school but something might be able to worked out if it otherwise would not be allowed.

I'm thinking of something obscenely ridiculous like a 7.62x39 or 30-06 autoloading handgun.

DMF
August 1, 2004, 07:22 PM
Well there are a couple of issues here.

1- Contact the ATF and see if they can provide guidance on the federal issues.

2- Contact the state Attorney General's office to guidance on restrictions in your state. Such as any state restrictions regarding firearms manufacturing, and any restrictions against firearms on campus.

3- Contact the county prosecutor's office to guidance about any local laws that may affect your project.

4- Discuss this with your academic advisor to get his input into whether the college may have any problems with the idea of making a firearm on campus.

trapperjohn
August 1, 2004, 09:08 PM
Reno;
as I understand it from a legal standpoint you can make one for yourself, one thing to make sure and do is to put a serial number on it, any serial number, It is a federal offence to have a reciever without one.

about the engineering project though...
I am an engineering professor and supervise/advise senior designs. ARe you designing a new mechanism, or are you copying a design such as a 1911?
as an engineering prof I would not give you credit on simply manufacturing something that has already been engineered.
is this a project that you already have an advisor for that has or will approve it?

deej
August 1, 2004, 09:13 PM
From the horse's a...um...mouth:



http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faq2.htm#a7

(A7) Does the GCA prohibit anyone from making a handgun, shotgun or rifle? [Back]


With certain exceptions a firearm may be made by a nonlicensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms.
However, a person is prohibited from making a semiautomatic assault weapon or assembling a nonsporting semiautomatic rifle or nonsporting shotgun from
imported parts. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and approval by ATF. An application to make a machinegun will not be
approved unless documentation is submitted showing that the firearm is being made for a federal or state agency. [18 U. S. C. 922( o), (r), (v), and 923, 27 CFR 178.39, 178.40, 178.41 and 179.105]




IANAL, YMMV, TANSTAAFL.

Reno
August 1, 2004, 11:29 PM
trapperjohn, right not I'm still just kicking the idea around, but I wouldn't be copying anything.

Thanks for the link deej. That just leaves the local authorities to check with now.

I'm not terribly optimistic about getting the project approved, since the university implimented an illegal CCW ban, but I can always try.

Kharn
August 2, 2004, 11:20 AM
I wrote the ATF for written clarification of FAQ A7 and the legality of building a postban AR15 from raw materials, here are the three pages of their response:
Page 1 (www.chesapeake.net/~mcfadden/bigtoys/law/1.jpg)
Page 2 (www.chesapeake.net/~mcfadden/bigtoys/law/2.jpg)
Page 3 (www.chesapeake.net/~mcfadden/bigtoys/law/3.jpg)

Kharn

Old Fuff
August 2, 2004, 11:27 AM
If you catch too much flak from the school or whoever, you might consider making a "concept gun" that wasn't chambered, and couldn't be loaded or fired. Then later you could chamber the barrel and proceed on from there.

TimRB
August 2, 2004, 12:30 PM
"I'm thinking of something obscenely ridiculous like a 7.62x39 or 30-06 autoloading handgun."

30-06???

That would be quite a handgun. Because of its recoil I doubt that you could build one that a human could hang onto, but that notwithstanding I would check to see if BATF would consider it a short-barreled (and therefore possibly illegal) rifle.

Tim

Harry Tuttle
August 2, 2004, 12:56 PM
heck, the magnum research Lone Eagle breach block was a 30-06 handgun

Hkmp5sd
August 2, 2004, 01:03 PM
BATF would consider it a short-barreled (and therefore possibly illegal) rifle.
Not as long as it doesn't have a shoulder stock.

TimRB
August 2, 2004, 01:49 PM
"heck, the magnum research Lone Eagle breach block was a 30-06 handgun"

Well I'll be...a 30-06 handgun

http://www.gun-tests.com/performance/apr97eagle.html

Learn something new every day. I double-dog dare them to try to make it an autoloader, though.

Tim

Third_Rail
August 2, 2004, 01:53 PM
If you make a 30-06 handgun, make it semi-auto and able to accept a factory magazine, whether it be a BAR mag or a Remington 700, just accept a factory mag.


If you do that, you may gain quite a bit of interest.

If you can make it work, I'd like to see the plans.

I've always wanted a 30 caliber handgun but not wanted to go the chopped FAL AOW route.

Brett Bellmore
August 2, 2004, 02:36 PM
Heck, I seem to recall that Barrett once built a .50 BMG handgun, whose muzzle brake was so effective that it yanked you forward. With enouigh muzzle brake, you can shoot just about anything out of a handgun.

As long as you're wearing REALLY good ear protection, and don't care what happens to people standing next to you... :what:

hvengel
August 2, 2004, 03:27 PM
I used to live n Susanville Ca. At the local JC they have a gunsmithing program (2 years of study). When I was living there one of the students rebarreled a TC Contendor for a 458 Win Mag. It had no conpensator and the recoil was severe to the point of causing injuries. So hand guns that shoot big powerful cartridges do exist and I sustect that if he had put a good conpensator on his 458 Contendor it would not have been bad to shoot.

Bubbles
August 2, 2004, 04:59 PM
one thing to make sure and do is to put a serial number on it, any serial number, It is a federal offence to have a reciever without one.

Do you have a cite for this? There are still a lot of pre-'68 guns out there that were never numbered. AFAIK it's illegal to tamper with a serial number, but not illegal to have a "sterile" receiver that was never numbered.

Hkmp5sd
August 2, 2004, 06:45 PM
http://www.concealedcarry.info/modules/xoopsgallery/cache/albums/Image-Hosting//50_cal_handgun.jpg

any serial number, It is a federal offence to have a reciever without one.
The requirement for a serial number applies licensed importers, licensed manufacturers and anyone making NFA firearms (excluding DDs).

Kharn
August 2, 2004, 06:58 PM
Bubbles is right, read the letter I linked to above. The ATF only strongly recommends a private builder place identifying marks on the firearm, there is no legal requirement.

Kharn

Reno
August 2, 2004, 07:02 PM
Thanks to all for the replies and information.

I definately would like to go the route of pre-existing mag, having to design that would be even more of a pain. I imagine with a handgun I'd need a pretty strong recoil spring setup, does something in the 40-50lb range sound about right?

I'll have to run through a lot of calculations if this materializes but does anyone think ordinary steel would be workable for something like this, keeping in mind that I would like to keep it within a reasonable size?

I think even if it's not accepted, I'd like to work on it as a personal, side project, just for kicks.

Logan5
August 2, 2004, 07:05 PM
Maybe you could think about going black powder/non-cartridge, and avoid a whole lot of headaches? Turn out, say, a stainless percussion take on a webly-fosberry automatic revolver... or design something prettier.
Since it'd be percussion, you could make one for me too, and I could buy it by mail! ;)

R.H. Lee
August 2, 2004, 07:14 PM
How about a .50 six-shooter?

Something about that thing looks........well.......PORNOGRAPHIC :uhoh:

It would be way cool to build your own firearm. Would the barrel be the most difficult? How would you cut the rifling?

wintermute76
August 2, 2004, 08:36 PM
I recently built a copy of a ruger 10/22 Magnum. To avoid rather impractical work, I bought the stock, barrel and trigger group. Machined the bolt and receiver.

It doesn't need to be serial numbered, but according to the FFL/SOT I talked to, it'll save you lots of headaches if for some reason you get stopped about it or whatever. they get kinda funny about a firearm with no numbers. Just serial it with the date of completion or something similar.

Also, he said it a bit of a gray area, but you can sell it in the future, say you get tired of it in a year or two. As long as it wasn't made for resale and you aren't in the business of making them for sale it's legal. But there isn't a set number that makes it illegal, so that's why it's a bit fuzzy.

But, check all the laws for yourself just to be on the safe side.

mpmillen
August 2, 2004, 09:22 PM
http://www.ktordnance.com/kto/products.php

I am not a tool belt kinda guy. I am lucky to hammer to 2x4's together.

The idea of completing a project like this is just a dream for me. However, if you have the skills and access to the tools, I don;t think this would be that hard.

Mark

Muzzleflash
August 2, 2004, 09:27 PM
Holy. Moley.

I wonder who is big enough to shoot one of those things?

Cortland
August 3, 2004, 12:51 AM
One wonders how the federal government has any authority over firearms in the absence of interstate commerce. Does the ATF make any effort to explain the legal basis of their authority over firearms made wholly within a single state?

TexasVet
August 3, 2004, 01:30 AM
One wonders how the federal government has any authority over firearms in the absence of interstate commerce.
There is a recent 9th Circuit ruling that they DON'T. A man took a parts kit and built a fully automatic firearm by making the reciever himself. The 9th ruled that since the law defines a machine gun as the reciever itself, since he made it entirely on his own, that the other parts, which had been in interstate commerce, had NO effect on his "manufacturing" of a machinegun and he therefore could not be guilty of NFA violations.
The implementation of this ruling is on hold waiting for the .gov to appeal.
There has been at least one other case in which the man built the entire gun from scratch and was cleared on appeal, (also in the 9th, IIRC) but this is the first that rules that one may rebuild a machine gun from a parts kit by making ONLY the rcvr from scratch.:D
It may be years before this ruling stands if the gov appeals to the Supreme Court, but it is encouraging.
I do NOT have the links handy, but I will look them up tomorrow and try to find them.

Cortland
August 3, 2004, 02:00 AM
The 9th Circuit Court decision has interesting implications. First, look at applicability. Most states which allow machine guns have laws which actually say that all machine guns are illegal, but then make an exception for machine guns registered with the federal government. In these states, this federal ruling will make home-made machineguns legal on a federal level, but they will be illegal on the state level since they cannot be registered (I assume?).

In the minority of machine gun states whose laws make no mention of the NFA or federal registration, this ruling has real meaning. It is interesting that making only the receiver from scratch eliminates the interstate commerce. Ideally this would apply to semi-auto -> auto conversions, too. Oh, well. I guess we'll all just have to be patient -- and remain "catiously optimistic." :rolleyes:

hvengel
August 3, 2004, 03:29 AM
The "normal" steel in guns is 4140. Good stuff but it has been around since the very early 1900s so it is not real expensive if you are talking about the quantity needed for a single gun. Barrel blanks are also not real expense as long as you are not getting a match quality one. I have seen rifle barrel blanks for as little as $20 and if you shop around you might find one for even less. This makes the barrel fairly simple. Just turn the outside to the correct diameter, thread it for the receiver and cut the crown.

publius
August 3, 2004, 06:35 AM
Cortland:

here is a link to the 9th decision by Kozinski:

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0210318p.pdf

That's not the real answer to your original question, though. Regulation of firearms was not done under the interstate commerce clause. At that time, the Constitution had not grown enough to allow that. Instead, it was done under the power to tax, just like cannabis prohibition (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm). That's why the BATF was under the Treasury Dept, not Commerce, at least until we got the Fatherland Security Dept.

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