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View Full Version : Legality of making a rifle from scratch


shepric
10-21-2010, 7:02 PM
Hi all,

I've been reading the forums for a bit, but I'm still a little confused about the legality of building a rifle from scratch. Specifically, I'm going to make an FM No. 2 Vault Lock long rifle based on the plans from "Mr. Single Shot's Book of Rifle Plans" by Frank and Mark de Haas.

So, is there any knowledge on the subject? I've read a bit, so I can say, it's not a copy of a commercially produced gun - it's from hobbyist plans.

Any opinions or references would be much appreciated, just so I know what I'm getting into to. Thanks all.

G-forceJunkie
10-21-2010, 7:10 PM
As long as it does not fall under any of the illegal (or need a permit) classes of firearms (machine gun, California assult weapon,zip gun, SBR, etc.) it is legal to make your own firearms.

Barabas
10-21-2010, 8:03 PM
Specifically, don't fall afoul of PC 12020a(1) as defined by PC 102020a(10)A-D:

(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.

shepric
10-21-2010, 10:50 PM
Thanks for the responses guys. Parts B and C of that statute are a bit confusing Barabas; do you know they mean practically?

the_quark
10-21-2010, 10:55 PM
Thanks for the responses guys. Parts B and C of that statute are a bit confusing Barabas; do you know they mean practically?

Heh.

Unfortunately, no one does. It's really, really vague (one might say unconstitutionally so). The folks that build their own around here have generally figured that, as long as you're building a version of something that is manufactured by a licensed manufacturer, you're not making a zip gun.

It sounds like what you want to do doesn't fall into that situation. My honest assessment is that it's not clear whether what you want to do is legal, or not.

I do think over the long term, what you want to do has to be legal under the Second Amendment, but, sadly, it's not real high on the priority list at the moment.

G-forceJunkie
10-21-2010, 11:08 PM
I think "B" has to do with lets say turning a flashlight or ballpoint pen or cane into a firearm. If your building a typical shaped rifle, you won't have an issue. If your build a firearm that does not look like a firearm, then you have issues.

the_quark
10-21-2010, 11:12 PM
I think "B" has to do with lets say turning a flashlight or ballpoint pen or cane into a firearm. If your building a typical shaped rifle, you won't have an issue. If your build a firearm that does not look like a firearm, then you have issues.

I agree with you that was probably what they intended. But, it's so vaguely worded that no one really knows what it means.

Barabas
10-22-2010, 10:39 AM
A is pretty self-explanatory and inapplicable in your case.

B is just saying that the design was created by a manufactuer who is licensed by the AG to do business in the US, possibly, but not likely applicable. I'd contact the author of your plans to see if they are a licensed manufacturer, probably too much trouble.

C is where a lot of people give up hope. There are no exemptions specified under 26 USC 4181, so the PC refers to something that only exists in 26 USC 4182. If you wanted to argue that you are exempt under 4182 (which you likely would be) that opens up a whole can of worms about "manufacturing" which leads us right back into B.

D, of course, is exactly what we want.

Don't take my word for it, I'm not a lawyer.

wash
10-22-2010, 10:54 AM
If I were you, I would ask the BOF, send them a picture of a rifle similar to what you want to make and ask them if it could be considered a zip-gun.

I think in your case it should be obvious enough that it is not, but let the BOF tell you that.

shepric
10-22-2010, 11:08 AM
Wow, thanks guys, this is all really helpful discussion. wash, I think I'll try your way - that sounds like one of the more reliable ones for certainty.

CHS
10-23-2010, 10:13 AM
Specifically, don't fall afoul of PC 12020a(1) as defined by PC 102020a(10)A-D:

(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.

To be a zip gun, the firearm has to satisfy *ALL* of the above.

"C" is your out. No tax is due because A.) You're not a manufacturer and B.) The firearm remains a Title 1 firearm.

Don't build an AOW or other Title 2 firearm, and you are legally fine.