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DDT
05-12-2009, 9:55 PM
Are true zip guns uncommon and dangerous? On the face of it they are often made from the most common of items.

triaged
05-13-2009, 11:20 AM
They can be dangerous on both ends depending on the competence and materials used in the assembly.

DDT
05-13-2009, 11:25 AM
They can be dangerous on both ends depending on the competence and materials used in the assembly.

As can a finger, any other gun, a car, a nuclear weapon.

I was looking more toward how one would defend or define a "zip gun" in a post-heller environment. I understnad that some people are looking at 80% receivers as potentially being zip-guns. How many "commercially available" versions of a firearm have to be mfg'd before an 80% isn't a "zip-gun" or how accurate of a clone does a homemade gun have to be to be safe from being declared a zip-gun? Once you start down that slippery slope does it make any sense to say that zip-guns have any less constitutional protection than a 1911?

triaged
05-13-2009, 11:37 AM
People would argue that they are more dangerous than any normal gun because of lack of any safety (if we are talking the pipe, end cap and nail type) along with not looking like a normal gun.

gunsmith
05-13-2009, 11:46 AM
Ah, excellent question!
Zip guns were very popular among my friends and I
in the Bronx in the sixties, our guns were extremely dangerous!

However I remember a informative article in Small Arms Revue which described Philippine/American resistance to Japanese occupation during WW2, they made shotguns out of materials they were able to scrounge, they were sturdy and fairly reliable.

Very interesting.

Maestro Pistolero
05-13-2009, 12:06 PM
Interesting discussion about how to define "Dangerous and Unusual" going on here (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=357146).

sorensen440
05-13-2009, 12:08 PM
Zip guns dont have to be dangerous

7x57
05-13-2009, 12:22 PM
OK, so this fits into my line of thinking. Another thread raised the question of whether there are real, Constitutional categories of weapons (reality, regardless of what the courts ultimately accept). This is another instance--is "zip gun" a legally valid category?

In that thread I came down on the "no categories" side, but I'm trying to find an alternative to test whether that is a sound position. When the evidence seems contradictory, usually you have the wrong categories and are asking the wrong questions. The 2A deletes all the English BoR conditions, but they had some laws about carry and "dangerous and unusual" weapons--is this because the 2A only restricted the feds, or because we don't think using their categories? As an example, if we read an eighteenth century law about "guns" (say Jefferson's suggestion that poachers be prohibited from carrying guns off their property) as though it were a modern law we would not realize that the law applies to longarms only (Jefferson did not imagine he was preventing a poacher from carrying a brace of pistols for self defense). "Gun" meant something different then.

How might this apply to zip guns? Here is one idea I haven't heard discussed: it may have been understood that arms that you "keep and bear" implies a notion of *personal* (not in the sense of being yours, or being carryable per se, but rather being connected to you in a personal way), *honorable" weapons, derived ultimately from the knightly concept of personal honorable arms. In other words, the 2A protects "arms". We usually speak as though this is synonymous with "weapons." Let's question that, on the theory that we are culturally blinded to honor-derived categories and honor-based thinking.

Recall that the founders were *not* post-modern skeptics who believe nothing. They still fought duels over personal honor. Interestingly, I don't believe that just any weapon would be acceptable for a duel, even if agreed to by both parties. Pistols, swords, sure. Canoe paddles or thrown sawblades, no--silly and not honorable, and thus a disgraceful suggestion for a duel. Canoe paddles are not, I suggest, "arms," though they can be weapons.

Applying that to this case, we would have the argument that a piece of antenna, a rubber band, and a nail could not possibly be a gentleman's or even yeoman's personal arms of honor, and thus might not be protected by the 2A. It would be dishonorable to duel with such tripe.

While this probably opens up a nice big can of worms in terms of possible regulation, I'm not interested in the moment for what we *wish* the Constitution protects. Just in what those who pledged themselves to the social contract believed they were binding themselves and their descendants too.

BTW, there may be unconscious vestiges of this sort of thinking today, in that even anti-gun judges recognize a pistol as a "normal" defensive choice even if they panic at the thought of tonfa or military-appearing rifles. A handgun was always an honorable thing for a gentleman to tuck into a coat or vest pocket, but tonfa have no connection to honor in the *Western* tradition (and in the East mostly used by Okinawan peasants to kill the Japanese overlords with the vast sense of personal honor wrapped up in their honorable weapons).

7x57

DDT
05-13-2009, 12:43 PM
Personally, as long as they are used in a way that doesn't create danger to those not involved with their creation or firing I see no reason for regulation. But I really want to look at your scenario.


Recall that the founders were *not* post-modern skeptics who believe nothing. They still fought duels over personal honor. Interestingly, I don't believe that just any weapon would be acceptable for a duel, even if agreed to by both parties. Pistols, swords, sure. Canoe paddles or thrown sawblades, no--silly and not honorable, and thus a disgraceful suggestion for a duel. Canoe paddles are not, I suggest, "arms," though they can be weapons.


But a beautiful set of handmade muzzle loading flintlock pistols would be considered the very essence of an honorable weapon. Now, if I purchased a barrel and handcrafted a lock and grip I have just created a zip-gun in California.

So, perhaps the epitome of honorable personal arms in 1790 is now an illegal zip-gun.


Applying that to this case, we would have the argument that a piece of antenna, a rubber band, and a nail could not possibly be a gentleman's or even yeoman's personal arms of honor, and thus might not be protected by the 2A. It would be dishonorable to duel with such tripe.


So, where do you draw the line between a custom weapon built with no identifiable pre-existing commercial model and a gas pipe and a rubber band?


While this probably opens up a nice big can of worms in terms of possible regulation, I'm not interested in the moment for what we *wish* the Constitution protects. Just in what those who pledged themselves to the social contract believed they were binding themselves and their descendants too.

It is a can of worms that looks a lot like the "define Saturday night special" or "define assault weapons" can.

CAL.BAR
05-13-2009, 12:53 PM
Are true zip guns uncommon and dangerous? On the face of it they are often made from the most common of items.

No, they are not common (outside of jails or criminal settings) and as has been stated they are dangerous. (Heller WAS NOT talking about zip guns) seriously guys zip guns?

sorensen440
05-13-2009, 12:56 PM
No, they are not common (outside of jails or criminal settings) and as has been stated they are dangerous. (Heller WAS NOT talking about zip guns) seriously guys zip guns?
They are not common but were they prior to them becoming illegal ?

7x57
05-13-2009, 1:08 PM
Personally, as long as they are used in a way that doesn't create danger to those not involved with their creation or firing I see no reason for regulation.


Well, fine, but then I hate the Constitutional provision that gives states representation for non-citizens. But it *is* the law, and the problem was created by the founders. We can't amend it away either, because the beneficiaries of this insane provision will never give up their undeserved overrepresentation.


But I really want to look at your scenario.


Thanks, that's the game. Kick the tires.


But a beautiful set of handmade muzzle loading flintlock pistols would be considered the very essence of an honorable weapon. Now, if I purchased a barrel and handcrafted a lock and grip I have just created a zip-gun in California.

So, perhaps the epitome of honorable personal arms in 1790 is now an illegal zip-gun.


Quite possibly--*this* zip gun law is no doubt as barking mad as most other California regulations.


So, where do you draw the line between a custom weapon built with no identifiable pre-existing commercial model and a gas pipe and a rubber band?


Hmm. Some laws codify professional judgment. If you carefully read the nautical rules of the road, it turns out that one of the rules is to obey the common practice of prudent seamen, or something like that. Similarly, you aren't supposed to be able to patent ideas "obvious to one skilled in the art." So we could say that a zip gun is a firearm that is "obviously unsafe to one skilled in the gunsmith's art" and that violates the "common practice of prudent gunsmiths."

Vague? Yeah. But there is precedent for something like it. So far as I can tell, what lawyers mean by this kind of law is that the court should pay close attention to expert witness. And a handbuilt 1911 would certainly not be a zip gun under this definition, and a tv-antenna gun certainly would be, and five minutes questioning of any gunsmith would serve to establish both facts.


It is a can of worms that looks a lot like the "define Saturday night special" or "define assault weapons" can.

Those are easy--"gun a poor person can afford" and "gun that makes Diane Feinstein wet her pants." :rolleyes:

The question isn't whether this suggestion is the most convenient for our current needs. The question is whether, in fact, this is the can of worms the founders handed us.

7x57

gunsmith
05-13-2009, 2:33 PM
This thread is bringing back found memories, as a kid in the 1960's Bronx, zip guns were very popular, every kid had one.
We had an amazing amount of close calls, aim at the tree top and you might have the car antenna break and a .22 bounce off your noggin.
We were not aware of Code Duello, however, we always fought fair.

AJAX22
05-13-2009, 2:56 PM
I saw lots of zip guns back in jr high and highschool (in CA in the 90's)... didn't know it was illegal (and we didn't really care)

one guy made one with no metal parts... it was kind of neat but wore out really fast.

They weren't used as weapons, (you could get real guns if you wanted them) they were just something to do on a summer weekday

DDT
05-13-2009, 3:04 PM
Hmm. Some laws codify professional judgment. If you carefully read the nautical rules of the road, it turns out that one of the rules is to obey the common practice of prudent seamen, or something like that. Similarly, you aren't supposed to be able to patent ideas "obvious to one skilled in the art." So we could say that a zip gun is a firearm that is "obviously unsafe to one skilled in the gunsmith's art" and that violates the "common practice of prudent gunsmiths."

Vague? Yeah. But there is precedent for something like it. So far as I can tell, what lawyers mean by this kind of law is that the court should pay close attention to expert witness. And a handbuilt 1911 would certainly not be a zip gun under this definition, and a tv-antenna gun certainly would be, and five minutes questioning of any gunsmith would serve to establish both facts.


Well, we all know what happens when you give CA LE the ability to rely on professional judgment, especially their own "discretion."


Those are easy--"gun a poor person can afford" and "gun that makes Diane Feinstein wet her pants." :rolleyes:


Please say that's the wet her pants and not "wet" her pants, somethings once thought cannot be unthought.


The question isn't whether this suggestion is the most convenient for our current needs. The question is whether, in fact, this is the can of worms the founders handed us.


Well, if a poor kid (outside of city limits) puts together a zip-gun out of old parts around the house and goes to the dump to shoot vermin is that really a problem?

tyrist
05-13-2009, 3:41 PM
Zip guns are not common arms....and they are dangerous to the user as well as the target.

GuyW
05-14-2009, 1:28 PM
Re: "dangerous and unusual", Heller is (probably) dead wrong. (depends what "d & u" actually means)

The 2nd is about "arms", not just FIREarms.

And the militia component of the 2nd is arguably more important in the long-term big picture than the self-defense aspect that Heller focused upon...

I foresee "d & u" being used to suppress light sabers and blasters....

.

GuyW
05-14-2009, 1:32 PM
Zip guns are not common arms....and they are dangerous to the user as well as the target.

As usual, it matters what is meant by "zip gun".

If you mean a homebuilt firearm, constructed with makeshift materials by technically incompetent persons, that's one definition.

If you mean the CA Penal Code definition....then John Moses Browning, John C. Garand, ol' man Ruger, and innummerable others, would be considered zipgun makers at points in their lives...
.

DDT
05-14-2009, 2:04 PM
Zip guns are not common arms....and they are dangerous to the user as well as the target.

If you use that as a definition then fine. However; in California any home built firearm that is not modeled after an existing, commercial firearm is considered a zip gun. So, if someone made a DOOM-gun that actually worked no matter how much work they put into it and how well they designed it, in California it is a zip gun.

I understand the desire some people have to regulate things like zip guns but really, how are they NOT protected by the second amendment? Surely improvised weapons cannot be any more regulated than other "arms."

petey
05-14-2009, 2:08 PM
Zip gun per 12020pc
(10) As used in this section, a "zip gun" means any weapon or
device which meets all of the following criteria:
(A) It was not imported as a firearm by an importer licensed
pursuant to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of
the United States Code and the regulations issued pursuant thereto.
(B) It was not originally designed to be a firearm by a
manufacturer licensed pursuant to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section
921) of Title 18 of the United States Code and the regulations
issued pursuant thereto.
(C) No tax was paid on the weapon or device nor was an exemption
from paying tax on that weapon or device granted under Section 4181
and Subchapters F (commencing with Section 4216) and G (commencing
with Section 4221) of Chapter 32 of Title 26 of the United States
Code, as amended, and the regulations issued pursuant thereto.
(D) It is made or altered to expel a projectile by the force of an
explosion or other form of combustion.

I must be missing something here. A firearm built from a flat or an 80% is not a zip gun here in CA. Yet it was not imported by a dealer nor designed to be a firearm by a manufacturer.

DDT
05-14-2009, 2:18 PM
I must be missing something here. A firearm built from a flat or an 80% is not a zip gun here in CA. Yet it was not imported by a dealer nor designed to be a firearm by a manufacturer.

If you are building an AR or a 1911 (the most common) replica from an 80% receiver then the weapon you are building was designed to be a firearm by a licensed manufacturer.

petey
05-14-2009, 2:33 PM
If you are building an AR or a 1911 (the most common) replica from an 80% receiver then the weapon you are building was designed to be a firearm by a licensed manufacturer.

That's what I'm confused about. The flat or 80% is not a firearm. It's a piece of metal. I am not a licensed firearm manufacturer under Federal law. Federal law allows individuals to manufacture firearms for personal use, but 12020PC would seem to prevent Californians from manufacturing a firearm. I'll have to research this some more.

Mikeb
05-14-2009, 2:35 PM
I find the CA "zip gun laws" particularly troubling. They seem totally out of step with federal regulations . I've read them a dozen times and my eyes still roll back into my head. Why should a new design homemade firearm be illegal just because it is a new design? The feds have already determined that unrifled barrels must be 18" in order to not be a short barreled shotgun. ( I'm not a big fan of that rule either...but I'll live with it) But the CA nonsense that anything that launches a projectile by the force of an explosion is a firearm and the zip gun rule that a firearm must be a copy of a commercially manufactured arm seems to me to preclude a lot of things that would be fun to build, ie matchlocks, wheellocks and many black powder arms. I've seem pictures of a 50 BMG rifle that had a threaded breach. Perfectly legal in all of the free states but a zip gun in CA.
Kinda makes you think our laws are made up by idiots...
take care
Mike

GuyW
05-14-2009, 2:37 PM
I must be missing something here. A firearm built from a flat or an 80% is not a zip gun here in CA. Yet it was not imported by a dealer nor designed to be a firearm by a manufacturer.

You mean the AK manufacturers actually designed the AK to be a toaster??

Were (federal) taxes paid on the guns when they were sold in commerce?
.

DDT
05-14-2009, 2:42 PM
That's what I'm confused about. The flat or 80% is not a firearm. It's a piece of metal. I am not a licensed firearm manufacturer under Federal law. Federal law allows individuals to manufacture firearms for personal use, but 12020PC would seem to prevent Californians from manufacturing a firearm. I'll have to research this some more.

no, but the firearm you build up from the flat or the 80% receiver was originally designed by (or at one time offered for sale by) a licensed manufacturer. The question is; how indistinguishable from the original design must your firearm be?

Where, if anywhere, along this continuum is it constitutional to prohibit possession?

petey
05-14-2009, 2:56 PM
Ahh. So a parts kit + home built receiver = a firearm that was previously designed by someone else, so it's OK.

Now, does every single part have to be home made in order to be a zip gun? What if I build a rifle with a Green Mountain barrel, or made a single shot shotgun, but used a Timney trigger? (Yeah, silly idea, but I think you get the point.)

bussda
05-14-2009, 2:59 PM
Where, if anywhere, along this continuum is it constitutional to prohibit possession?

Prior to Heller, it was that Supreme Court decision called United States v. Miller. Now, post Heller, decisions based on Miller are still binding until they get argued and appealed. It will take a while to undo 70 years of court decisions.

DDT
05-14-2009, 2:59 PM
I think you get the point.

And this is exactly my point.

Unless the weapon you are building is based on the design of a weapon made by a licensed mfg. you are building a zip gun in CA. It doesn't matter how nice the gun is or how much thought you put into it, or how well it is built, or how safe it is, if someone else (with papers) didn't originally design it you are SOL at this point. How far you can deviate from the original design is not clear anywhere.

bussda
05-14-2009, 3:05 PM
Unless the weapon you are building is based on the design of a weapon made by a licensed mfg. you are building a zip gun in CA. It doesn't matter how nice the gun is or how much thought you put into it, or how well it is built, or how safe it is, if someone else (with papers) didn't originally design it you are SOL at this point. How far you can deviate from the original design is not clear anywhere.

A few years ago, any homemade firearm in California, even based on commercially based design, was considered a "zip gun". Progress is coming in small steps.

DDT
05-14-2009, 3:09 PM
Prior to Heller, it was that Supreme Court decision called United States v. Miller. Now, post Heller, decisions based on Miller are still binding until they get argued and appealed. It will take a while to undo 70 years of court decisions.

I am completely missing something. What does Miller have to do with Zip guns? The fact that they aren't militarily useful?

GuyW
05-14-2009, 3:11 PM
Ahh. So a parts kit + home built receiver = a firearm that was previously designed by someone else, so it's OK.



Not quite. Sam Colt (for example) may have designed and sold a particular gun, but it was before federal taxes had to be paid on the gun. If the gun was not commercially sold in the "tax era", a copy would be a zip gun.

Now, does every single part have to be home made in order to be a zip gun?

No.
.

GuyW
05-14-2009, 3:16 PM
Because of ignorance and FUD - A few years ago, any homemade firearm in California, even based on commercially based design, was considered a "zip gun". Progress is coming in small steps.

fixed it. The zip gun law hasn't changed in many years...

...and, it used to be routinely ignored in many sectors.

Von Dutch, the CA pinstriper / restorer / machinist, used to make his own handguns, most of which were unique, and gave at least one individual a homemade revolver...
.

Mikeb
05-14-2009, 3:24 PM
The zip gun law hasn't changed in many years...

...and, it used to be routinely ignored in many sectors.

The problem with ignored, badly written laws , is that they are still laws. Even if they only apply to the law abiding.
take care
Mike

bussda
05-14-2009, 4:40 PM
I am completely missing something. What does Miller have to do with Zip guns? The fact that they aren't militarily useful?

The Miller decision effectively stated the 1934 NFA could limit what firearms were real firearms. And tax things like silencers and full auto firearms. So Zippo pistols and tire iron shotguns were out. A firearm must look like a firearm. Unfortunately, the intellectual dishonesty with which it was applied led to current day FUD.


fixed it. The zip gun law hasn't changed in many years...

...and, it used to be routinely ignored in many sectors.

No, it was only selectively applied to individuals. Until they could no longer afford to ignore it for selective enforcement. It is that equal protection thing, simply, it is a racist thing.