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Legality of making a gun at home?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Bobarino, Mar 30, 2005.

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  1. Bobarino

    Bobarino member

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    i was asked about the feasibility and legality of manufacturing a hangun in one's own garage for personal use and i came up short in the knowledge department on this one.

    lets assume for the sake of this discussion that the garage is equipped with some nifty CAD sofware linked to a nifty CNC machine and a lathe. now i know its very feasible to make a gun. they are after all, very simple machines. a single shot pistol could be made fairly easily by someone with even medicore skills.

    my question is more as to the legality of doing so. is there a license that would allow one to do this? does a person even need a license to tinker in their own garage?


    i seem to remember discussion of a man who manufactured a maching gun and it went to court and he "won" so to speak. can anyone point me to that case?

    as usual, thanks for the help all.

    Bobby
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2005
  2. richyoung

    richyoung Member

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    A google or similar web search of "80% frame" should get you all the info you want, and more. Basically you can do it, but you can never sell it - the only way to transfer ownership is to leave it to someone in your will, or something like that.
     
  3. Control Group

    Control Group Member

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    This is a good question. I've heard that it's perfectly legal to manufacture a gun for your own use, but not legal for you to transfer it - even at your death, meaning it would have to be scrapped or buried with you. I got this from someone I consider knowledgeable regarding firearms and the law, but certainly not a lawyer, and I haven't tried to confirm it via the BATF, DOJ, or my state attorney general's office.

    And that's another question, I imagine this would depend entirely on what state you're in. Since it's not being used in, for, or as a result of interstate commerce, the federal involvement should be minimal.
     
  4. jefnvk

    jefnvk Member

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    It is legal, as long as it isn't something prohibited by the NFA. No manufacturing M16's in your garage :(

    But IIRC, it can't be sold.

    Straight from their site (http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faq2.htm#a7) :
     
  5. WT

    WT Member

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    We used to make them in grammar school shop class. Used an auto radio antenna, clothes pins, rubber bands, finishing nail. Called them 'zip guns.'

    Didn't need no stinkin' CAD systems or CNC machinery.

    Of course, this was back in the 1950's ........
     
  6. Yowza

    Yowza Member

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    Well, if you can make it and you don't have to register it at completion, how does the ATF know who made it? And if they don't know who made it, how could they enforce the no-transfer rule?

    Rick
     
  7. TrybalRage

    TrybalRage Member

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  8. whm1974

    whm1974 Member

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    This brings up another question. Is it legal for another person to possase a firearm someone else made?

    If you made some firearms for your own use and then later on you died. Would it be illegal for your kids or whoever to have them?

    -Bill
     
  9. MudPuppy

    MudPuppy Member

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    There's a few forums that get into this in some detail--especially with the stamped AKs.
    gunsnet has a "build it yourself" forum and AGI has a DVD for sale that explains the "how" on the AKs, but not the legal end.

    Looks like an exciting and downright patriotic hobby.
     
  10. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    One of the biggest problems with just manufacturing the gun is the barrel. It must be rifled unless it's chambered in a regular shotgun cartridge. Smoothbore pistols and rifles are NFA weapons, and you have to pay a $200 manufacturing tax (or go to jail for, um, forever). Of course, you could just buy a barrel. According to federal law, the actual "firearm" part of a gun is the frame or receiver.

    WT, if I were you, I wouldn't admit to committing a federal offense on a public forum.
     
  11. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    Check Your State Laws Too!

    NJ requires a STATE license to manufacture firearms, in addition to the federal paperwork, which effectively locks this option out for NJ residents.

    I know.

    I checked.

    I was going to build a .22 for grins.

    Now that I'm in the US, I might resume that abandoned project if I should ever get the time.
     
  12. yorick

    yorick member

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    You can make whatever you want as long as it doesn't run afoul any of the other laws or regulations (i.e. you can't make a machine gun or other NFA item, you can't make a Cruise Missile or 40mm howitzer) "Normal" rifles, pistols, shotguns like you can buy down at Dicks Sporting Goods - are all fine and dandy.

    You MUST comply with local and state laws regarding firearms - in my state this just means I have to put a serial number on it. As someone else said - other states may expressly prohibit manufacture by a non-licensee.

    You CAN sell it or transfer it all you want - what the statute prohibits (by a non-licensee) is manufacturing with INTENT to sell or transfer or distribute. Just like buying and selling your personal guns - buy & sell too many, too often and you may risk being called a 'dealer'.

    Of course how ATF defines intent may be problematic, and may change - I personally haven't sold or transferred anything I've made - and I certainly wouldn't buy something made by a non-licensee - but there is nothing that says I can't give the things to my kids some time in the future....

    As usual - this advice is worth what you pay for it - however everything I've said is verifiable (with some digging) at the ATF website...
     
  13. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    It's time and long past time to disband the B.A.T.F.E. and send its people to defend the nation's borders. Illegal aliens are an infinitely greater threat to the nation than a few gunnies making their own gadgets that go bang—or bang-bang-bang-bang-bang, for that matter.
     
  14. thatguy

    thatguy Member

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    I once met a man who was a retired machinist. He had built numerous guns from scratch in his shop at home. He made and rifled barrels, made the stocks, all of it. Beautiful work, too. He made single shot sporting rifles copied from famous designs, like the Ballard, the Sharps, and the Winchester Hi-Wall. Once for grins he built a copy of a Military & Police S&W revolver. He made the action a bit different, though. First pull of the trigger cocked the hammer, second tripped the sear and fired the gun. Very interesting. This man owned more guns than anyone I ever heard of, before. I saw maybe 1,000 guns stacked all over his house and I suspect he had more stashed out of sight. He didn't strike me as the sort of man who cared much about what the feds said he could and could not do.
     
  15. WT

    WT Member

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    I'm not sure if it was illegal to make a zip gun in grammar school 50 years ago. Could a 10 year old be convicted of a felony in 1955?

    We had kids bring in their own rifles and make new stocks for them. I seem to recall 1 kid bring in a Japanese rifle his father had picked up in the Pacific. Then again, it might have been German. Long time ago.
     
  16. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    The NFA has banned smoothbore pistols since 1934. Unless you paid $200 to the BATFE, it was a federal offense, equal to manufacturing a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun. I honestly don't know, so you tell me; would a ten year old have gone to jail for making a machine gun in 1955, or was the law handled a bit differently back then?

    Yes, it's ridiculous. Yes, that law has no business being there. But that doesn't make it less of a crime to violate.

    edit: oops, darn this tendonitis. I can't type numbers right.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2005
  17. Dionysusigma

    Dionysusigma Member

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    Seems there was a thread over in the Rifle Country forum not too long ago about someone who was desiging a subgun around a spare Uzi barrel...

    Ah, yes. fslflint's design... Link to Thread

    I think this would be the best way to go... whether desiging a home-built gun or redecorating your living room, always base your design on the most complex/expensive/largest item. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2005
  18. PMDW

    PMDW Member

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  19. bad LT

    bad LT Member

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    Any future John Moses Brownings out there???
     
  20. jefnvk

    jefnvk Member

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    IIRC, that is the import ban semi-automatic assualt weapon, not the 94 ban. Can't take foreign made parts and stick them on a gun unless you play with the parts law.
     
  21. TheOtherOne

    TheOtherOne Member

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    Here's a pistol I made in my garage just last month:

    Done-Drum1.jpg

    It's perfectly legal and even though I built it myself I could still legally sell it if I ever wanted to.
     
  22. wintermute76

    wintermute76 Member

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    I"ve always had the sale clause interpreted as it's ok to do, just don't be making them with the intent to sell. Granted it's a gray area, but not something that I"m worried about. Couldn't see selling anything I made anyways.

    Made a 10/22 magnum copy. Now on to bigger an better things :) Got some 1911 frames I need to get cracking on :evil:
     
  23. SHOOT1SAM

    SHOOT1SAM Member

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    Here's what caught my eye on the post with the BATFE regs.:

    "However, a person is prohibited from making a semiautomatic assault weapon or assembling a nonsporting semiautomatic rifle or nonsporting shotgun from imported parts.

    Sam
     
  24. Northslope Nimrod

    Northslope Nimrod Member

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    Can be done.

    Arguably, one may make their own gun out materials native to their State, without violating federal law. Thus, under the AWB, one could have made the gun AND regular capicity clips. The feds must prove a connection to Interstate Commerce. Me..??... I can't even fix my old BB gun.
     
  25. TheOtherOne

    TheOtherOne Member

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    Yep, so you just have to make a U.S. made rifle by not using more than 10 imported parts.

    Sec. 178.39 Assembly of semiautomatic rifles or shotguns.

    (a) No person shall assemble a semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun using more than 10 of the imported parts listed in paragraph (c) of this section if the assembled firearm is prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.

    (b) The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
    (1) The assembly of such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or
    (2) The assembly of such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Director under the provisions of Sec. 178.151; or
    (3) The repair of any rifle or shotgun which had been imported into or assembled in the United States prior to November 30, 1990, or the replacement of any part of such firearm.

    (c) For purposes of this section, the term imported parts are:

    (1) Frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings or stampings
    (2) Barrels
    (3) Barrel extensions
    (4) Mounting blocks (trunions)
    (5) Muzzle attachments
    (6) Bolts
    (7) Bolt carriers
    (8 ) Operating rods
    (9) Gas pistons
    (10) Trigger housings
    (11) Triggers
    (12) Hammers
    (13) Sears
    (14) Disconnectors
    (15) Buttstocks
    (16) Pistol grips
    (17) Forearms, handguards
    (18 ) Magazine bodies
    (19) Followers
    (20) Floorplates

    Of course, none of that applies to handguns so you don't have to worry about parts count when you build a pistol.
     
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