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View Full Version : Might have an AOW, seeking some advice.


Admirer
03-10-2012, 8:36 PM
If this is the wrong place to ask about this, please let me apologize, very new here (first post).

On to the question:
I have a nice collection, some inherited, some purchased by myself, so I have a bit of understanding with gun laws and the like, but I have one item that concerns me...My great grandfather worked for the oil refinery in Martinez, CA for many years and had full access to the machine shop. He was also a member of the yacht club and got to be a fairly higher up there. In his time at the yacht club he built a brass cannon, complete with a spring loaded firing pin and trigger that you could tie a string around to pull and fire off a 12 gauge shell, be it slug, shot, or just a blank. It was way before my time, just something I found in a box somewhat recently but according to my family it was the signal cannon for dozens of races around the bay and it even has a plaque on it that was added later to commemorate my grandfather.

The thing that concerns me...as of my understanding of the laws, I have a single shot 12 gauge with a 12" barrel and that makes it either an AOW or SBR (I think the SBR doesn't apply since it doesn't have a stock and is fired from the mount its on, but I really don't know how the laws apply)

Is this legal for me to have? It was manufactured before any sort of weapons laws that apply to it were written and it has a long history to my family. I know I could permanently disable it and keep it as a heavy thing that sits on my bookshelf, but Id really like to keep it as a functional signal cannon, even though it is capable of firing any 12 gauge shell you put in it.

Do I have legal options other than disabling/destroying/handing it to the ATF?

Thanks,
ASA

HowardW56
03-10-2012, 8:39 PM
If this is the wrong place to ask about this, please let me apologize, very new here (first post).

On to the question:
I have a nice collection, some inherited, some purchased by myself, so I have a bit of understanding with gun laws and the like, but I have one item that concerns me...My great grandfather worked for the oil refinery in Martinez, CA for many years and had full access to the machine shop. He was also a member of the yacht club and got to be a fairly higher up there. In his time at the yacht club he built a brass cannon, complete with a spring loaded firing pin and trigger that you could tie a string around to pull and fire off a 12 gauge shell, be it slug, shot, or just a blank. It was way before my time, just something I found in a box somewhat recently but according to my family it was the signal cannon for dozens of races around the bay and it even has a plaque on it that was added later to commemorate my grandfather.

The thing that concerns me...as of my understanding of the laws, I have a single shot 12 gauge with a 12" barrel and that makes it either an AOW or SBR (I think the SBR doesn't apply since it doesn't have a stock and is fired from the mount its on, but I really don't know how the laws apply)

Is this legal for me to have? It was manufactured before any sort of weapons laws that apply to it were written and it has a long history to my family. I know I could permanently disable it and keep it as a heavy thing that sits on my bookshelf, but Id really like to keep it as a functional signal cannon, even though it is capable of firing any 12 gauge shell you put in it.

Do I have legal options other than disabling/destroying/handing it to the ATF?

Thanks,
ASA

Does it have a stock or grip? Or is it built like a miniature artillery piece?

I don't know if that would make a difference, I'm just curious...

Admirer
03-10-2012, 8:43 PM
no stock, no grip

http://postfader.com/images/cannon.jpg

HowardW56
03-10-2012, 8:46 PM
Sorry I don't know the answer; but if it were mine, I would make it a mantle piece...

Admirer
03-10-2012, 8:50 PM
Mantle piece is definitely the top choice if the other options are a plasma cutter or a donation drop. Thanks for the input.

-ASA

223556
03-10-2012, 8:52 PM
Now that is something I would love have on my bookshelf.... or as a new hood ornament!
I would think it would be an AOW, as far as what to do with it or go about registering it? I cant help :(
Good luck and I say that is something that should be left as is.

Jeepers
03-10-2012, 8:55 PM
looks like a signaling device to me , you know flares and blank rounds ...

HowardW56
03-10-2012, 8:57 PM
looks like a signaling device to me , you know flares and blank rounds ...

I agree, and it needs some polishing.... ;)

Purple K
03-10-2012, 10:33 PM
Seems to me it would fall under Cureo & Relic status.

freonr22
03-10-2012, 10:51 PM
To me it's a cannon, no sbs. No stock, non should fired

Admirer
03-10-2012, 11:06 PM
The thing I am worried about with the C+R...I dont have the license yet, its in my plans for the very near future, but other than "My great grandfather made it" I don't have any idea of a manufacturing date. It could very well fall under the C+R rules, but I really have no idea and the fact that it fires a modern 12 gauge makes it fall under a few different sets of laws. As it is now, I will probably separate the trigger mechanism and leave it on my bookshelf...I really want to fire it off, but that will just have to wait until I visit some open national forrest/BLM/logging land where I wont be under the eye of someone that might mistake it for something its not.

-ASA

stitchnicklas
03-10-2012, 11:18 PM
it is a signal device/flare launcher,put it on your shelf,firing modern flares and such maybe dangerous due to over-pressure of the flare launcher.

Mulay El Raisuli
03-11-2012, 5:24 AM
no stock, no grip

http://postfader.com/images/cannon.jpg


Its a rare thing of great beauty. Clearly harmless.

Obviously, it should be destroyed. :43:


The Raisuli

cdtx2001
03-11-2012, 7:37 AM
My vote is signaling cannon.

Purple K
03-11-2012, 8:03 AM
Age is not the only way to attain C&R status.

SanPedroShooter
03-11-2012, 8:18 AM
Signal cannon, not a firearm. I can fire a shotshell using a nail and a rolled up magzine, doesnt make it an AOW.

keneva
03-11-2012, 8:49 AM
That is really cool. Would look great in anyones home. You are welcome to shoot it at my house. I live in he country and all of my neighbors shoot, what ever they have! Merced County.

xLusi0n
03-11-2012, 9:19 AM
Signal cannon, not a firearm. I can fire a shotshell using a nail and a rolled up magzine, doesnt make it an AOW.

The ATF may disagree. Especially if a rubberband is involved.

Tarn_Helm
03-11-2012, 9:19 AM
If this is the wrong place to ask about this, please let me apologize, very new here (first post).

On to the question:
I have a nice collection, some inherited, some purchased by myself, so I have a bit of understanding with gun laws and the like, but I have one item that concerns me...My great grandfather worked for the oil refinery in Martinez, CA for many years and had full access to the machine shop. He was also a member of the yacht club and got to be a fairly higher up there. In his time at the yacht club he built a brass cannon, complete with a spring loaded firing pin and trigger that you could tie a string around to pull and fire off a 12 gauge shell, be it slug, shot, or just a blank. It was way before my time, just something I found in a box somewhat recently but according to my family it was the signal cannon for dozens of races around the bay and it even has a plaque on it that was added later to commemorate my grandfather.

The thing that concerns me...as of my understanding of the laws, I have a single shot 12 gauge with a 12" barrel and that makes it either an AOW or SBR (I think the SBR doesn't apply since it doesn't have a stock and is fired from the mount its on, but I really don't know how the laws apply)

Is this legal for me to have? It was manufactured before any sort of weapons laws that apply to it were written and it has a long history to my family. I know I could permanently disable it and keep it as a heavy thing that sits on my bookshelf, but Id really like to keep it as a functional signal cannon, even though it is capable of firing any 12 gauge shell you put in it.

Do I have legal options other than disabling/destroying/handing it to the ATF?

Thanks,
ASA

If you don't need to get rid of it, don't need the cash, and don't want to destroy a perfectly fascinating piece of personal family history, just keep it.

Who cares what the gubmint thinks?!

Scr3w those guys!
:rant:

Alan Block
03-11-2012, 9:28 AM
http://www.bellmorejohnson.com/
http://www.bellmorejohnson.com/assets/products/standard_black.jpg

j.hors
03-11-2012, 10:26 AM
That is absolutely beautiful and completely BA. I would go to home depot, get some neverdull shine it up and set it on a mantel with a picture of your Grandfather right next to it.

HowardW56
03-11-2012, 10:48 AM
That is absolutely beautiful and completely BA. I would go to home depot, get some neverdull shine it up and set it on a mantel with a picture of your Grandfather right next to it.

:iagree:

G-forceJunkie
03-11-2012, 10:50 AM
I understand the OP concern. Signal cannons cannot take and fire live ammo. Everyone that is saying it is ok, what make it any different from a zip gun with a stand?

cacop
03-11-2012, 11:08 AM
My dad was part of a sailing club 30 years ago and they had a cannon like that. It is clear the intent of that thing is to start a race. I am sure you could use buck or slug at least once (can brass handle the pressure?) but it is not like you are going to pulling stick ups or doing drive bys with it. I would recommend not shooting it at a public range with buck or slug. Signaling the start of a neighborhood Fourth of July BBQ might be fun though.

SanPedroShooter
03-11-2012, 11:14 AM
The ATF may disagree. Especially if a rubberband is involved.

Ha ha, I thought the same thing after I hit 'post'....;)

BrokerB
03-11-2012, 11:34 AM
Very sweet signaling device you have there. I want one please Anytime

RipVanWinkle
03-11-2012, 12:11 PM
It’s a starting cannon for sailboat races as you know. I’ve seen lots of variations on them over the years. The object is to fire a blank, black powder, round as the start signal. It’s the smoke that’s the signal, not the sound. The smoke is instantly visible to the dispersed competitors maneuvering about the starting line, whereas the sound will be heard at different times depending on their distance from the committee boat.

I’ve used an old Winchester Model 37 to start races, and I know that I used 12 ga. black powder blanks for that purpose; however, a quick Google search only showed me Winchester 10 ga. shells readily available. Of course 12 ga. versions could be easily hand loaded.

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/65096-5.html


Maybe it’s a 10 ga.? In any event, it’s a beautiful piece with a great history, and you’re really lucky to have it! I can’t imagine there would be any legal repercussions from using it for its intended purpose, much less just using it as a display item. There are plenty of similar starting cannons currently in use in sailboat racing on S.F. Bay. It ‘s nearly the defining object for the term “Curio and Relic”. But, hey, this is California, so all bets are off, IANAL, multiple disclaimers, etc., etc……….! :rolleyes:

Duh......Here's 12 ga. right here!

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/65106-5.html

Decoligny
03-11-2012, 12:27 PM
The signal cannons that are legal currently can only accept blank shotgun shells.

Review the California Penal Code on Short Barrelled Shotguns and you will find that it includes any firearm with a barrel less than 18 inches in length that can accept a standard shotgun shell.

I think this is an SBS under CA PC.

diggersdarling
03-11-2012, 1:10 PM
Polish it up and put it on the mantle. It is a beautiful piece.

G-forceJunkie
03-11-2012, 1:34 PM
Thats my thinking as well. These signal cannons are not a straight wall,smooth bore shotgun. You cannot fire a slug out of them. Its a 12ga zip gun with a fancy base. One would not view a signal cannon and expect it to shoot slugs and thus would not be "immediately recognizable as a firearm."

PC12020

(a)Any person in this state who does any of the following is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison:

(1)Manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses any cane gun or wallet gun, any undetectable firearm, any firearm which is not immediately recognizable as a firearm, any camouflaging firearm container, any ammunition which contains or consists of any fléchette dart, any bullet containing or carrying an explosive agent, any ballistic knife, any multiburst trigger activator, any nunchaku, any short-barreled shotgun, any short-barreled rifle, any metal knuckles, any belt buckle knife, any leaded cane, any zip gun, any shuriken, any unconventional pistol, any lipstick case knife, any cane sword, any shobi-zue, any air gauge knife, any writing pen knife, any metal military practice handgrenade or metal replica handgrenade, or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.The signal cannons that are legal currently can only accept blank shotgun shells.

Review the California Penal Code on Short Barrelled Shotguns and you will find that it includes any firearm with a barrel less than 18 inches in length that can accept a standard shotgun shell.

I think this is an SBS under CA PC.

626Tony
03-11-2012, 1:39 PM
ever been to disneyland?

wilit
03-11-2012, 1:56 PM
Check this out. http://mysite.verizon.net/gfg/html/ATF1.htm

Found it on another forum discussing the legality of building a signal cannon that fires shotgun blanks. http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/index.php?topic=67262.0

RipVanWinkle
03-11-2012, 3:05 PM
The signal cannons that are legal currently can only accept blank shotgun shells.

Review the California Penal Code on Short Barrelled Shotguns and you will find that it includes any firearm with a barrel less than 18 inches in length that can accept a standard shotgun shell.

I think this is an SBS under CA PC.

Sure fits the description in CA PC12020:

(c)(1) As used in this section, a "short-barreled shotgun" means any of the following: (A) A firearm which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell and having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length. (B) A firearm which has an overall length of less than 26 inches and which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell.

But exempted by BATFE under 26 U.S.C. § 5845(f):

[/B]Exemptions:
A shotgun or shotgun shell which is determined by the Attorney General to be generally

• recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.

• a device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon,
• a device which is designed or redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic,
linethrowing, safety, or similar device,


I haven't found any similar exemption in CA law, but the sites selling the Winchester cannon will sell and ship to CA. They claim exemption under the "saluting & signaling device" reference in 26 U.S.C. § 5845(f). On the ones I've seen you fire them by smacking the firing pin at the back of the breech with a hammer. I wouldn't attempt to fire a shell with any shot in it. The breech and mounting yoke will take the full recoil, and I doubt you can get away with that too many times. Not very useful as a weapon.

Maybe CA is once again out of step with the rest of the world. If it was mine, and I wish it were, I'd write to the CA DoJ for an opinion. If these are not legal in CA I know a few yacht clubs and others that are breaking the law. Heh... nothing new there. :(

saki302
03-12-2012, 5:43 AM
If the main body and breech are brass, it's probably only designed for signalling (blank) ammo.

I highly doubt a brss breech and barrel will hold up to a smokeless round without blowing up. It might become a very large hand grenade.

Lots of 12 gauge flare pistols will chamber 12 gauge shotgun ammo- and lots of them have put foolish people in the hospital who dared try it.

If it's 10 gauge- it'd be a spectacular way to kill yourself with buckshot ammo.

-Dave

watsonville
03-12-2012, 10:24 PM
http://http://netrightnation.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/cartoon-pull-the-trigger-500.jpg?w=500&h=387

unusedusername
03-13-2012, 1:37 PM
If the main body and breech are brass, it's probably only designed for signalling (blank) ammo.


+1 to this.

Look up the pressures of modern 12GA ammo, compare to the pressure handling of the thickness of brass used in that "cannon".

From the DOJ:

CA PC 16520. (a) As used in this part, "firearm" means any device,
designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a
barrel, a projectile by the force of any explosion or other form of
combustion.

I would opine that since this clearly can not handle firing real ammo that it was not designed to be used as a weapon and hence is not a firearm under CA law.

It might be safe to launch a low-pressure signal flare, which would classify it as a signaling device.

Since it is (in my not-a-lawyer opinion) not a gun at all you are perfectly safe to hang it on a mantle.

If you are really worried about it then give one of the lawyers here (http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/resources/cgf-hotline.html) a call, send them some money and get a real opinion.

Flopper
03-13-2012, 2:45 PM
The thing I am worried about with the C+R...I dont have the license yet. . .
-ASA

The C&R license is not necessary for ownership, only dealing in C&R's.

Any non-prohibited person can own a C&R.