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California 2nd Amend. Political Discussion & Activism Discuss gun rights activism and 2A related political topics here. All advice given is NOT legal counsel.

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  #1  
Old 08-08-2009, 8:42 PM
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Default Legal to manufacture a revolver in california for personal use?

As I understand it, BATF allows manufacturing of "normal" firearms w/o a license as long as you are not doing so for purposes of resale.

Are there any CA restrictions on doing so? In particular I'm interested if it's *clearly* legal to make your own double action revolver w/o a manufacturing FFL.
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Old 08-08-2009, 8:50 PM
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It has to follow a design that has already been manufactured, IIRC.
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Old 08-08-2009, 8:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obeygiant View Post
It has to follow a design that has already been manufactured, IIRC.
Follow = identical? Or just similar? This is to avoid being classified as a zip gun?
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Old 08-08-2009, 8:57 PM
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right now, the thought is that when you make a handgun, you must initially make it in a roster-exempt configuration to comply with CA laws about making an unsafe handgun. Once the handgun is made, there appears to be no law prohibiting you from converting it to another configuration.

So, it should be legal to make a single-action revolver that meets the dimensional requirements, which is roster exempt, and then later convert it to a double-action revolver. But initially making a double-action revolver would violate the law.

And you have to comply with the zip-gun laws, as obeygiant mentioned.

Quote:
12020(c)(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.
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:02 PM
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To add to what ke6guj already said, From the CGF Wiki

Quote:
It is legal to make your own firearm for your own use, provided the one you build is legal for you to own in your state/municipality.

No license is required, either Federal or California.

There is no legal requirement for serialization or registration as long as you build a non-NFA firearm.

You may not make a firearm with the intent to sell it, unless you possess a valid manufacturer's license

BATFE Reference1, BATFE Reference2 (PDF)
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D.R.E. View Post
Follow = identical? Or just similar? This is to avoid being classified as a zip gun?
yes, to avoid being a zip gun. How close is open to interpretation, there is no case law specifically defining how close AFAIK.
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obeygiant View Post
It has to follow a design that has already been manufactured, IIRC.
I'd be interested to see the body of law that comes from. The Penal Code and DOJ regs are silent on the subject. Same for BATFE.
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumpyoldretiredcop View Post
I'd be interested to see the body of law that comes from. The Penal Code and DOJ regs are silent on the subject. Same for BATFE.
See post #4.
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:20 PM
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According to 12020(c)(10)(C)

Could you just send in an excise tax payment and then not worry about the design of the gun since you wouldn't meet ALL the criteria of being a zip gun?
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D.R.E. View Post
Follow = identical? Or just similar? This is to avoid being classified as a zip gun?
Hmmm. So a Python action (I know what you are thinking!) with an antenna from a '63 Buick for a barrel is, me thinks, not the way to go here...
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
According to 12020(c)(10)(C)

Could you just send in an excise tax payment and then not worry about the design of the gun since you wouldn't meet ALL the criteria of being a zip gun?
Actually, upon closer reading there really is no need to base a homebuilt gun on a previous design.

if you read 12020(c)(10) any gun that is granted an exemption from taxation in Section 4181 Chapter 32 of Title 26 is not considered a zip gun.

Here this is section 4182 which lists exemptions to taxation under 4181:

Quote:
4182. Exemptions

(a) Machine guns and short barrelled firearms
The tax imposed by section 4181 shall not apply to any firearm on which the tax provided by section 5811 has been paid.

(b) Sales to defense department
No firearms, pistols, revolvers, shells, and cartridges purchased with funds appropriated for the military department shall be subject to any tax imposed on the sale or transfer of such articles.

(c) Small manufacturers, etc.

(1) In general
The tax imposed by section 4181 shall not apply to any pistol, revolver, or firearm described in such section if manufactured, produced, or imported by a person who manufactures, produces, and imports less than an aggregate of 50 of such articles during the calendar year.

(2) Controlled groups All persons treated as a single employer for purposes of subsection (a) or (b) of section 52 shall be treated as one person for purposes of paragraph (1).

(d) Records
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 922 (b)(5) and 923 (g) of title 18, United States Code, no person holding a Federal license under chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, shall be required to record the name, address, or other information about the purchaser of shotgun ammunition, ammunition suitable for use only in rifles generally available in commerce, or component parts for the aforesaid types of ammunition.
It would seem that section 4182(c)(1) would exempt anyone making fewer than 50 firearms a year from excise tax. This exemption would appear to keep any gun manufactured by an individual fitting this section exempt from California's zip gun laws.

Anyone see how I am incorrect here?
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
According to 12020(c)(10)(C)

Could you just send in an excise tax payment and then not worry about the design of the gun since you wouldn't meet ALL the criteria of being a zip gun?
12020(c)(10)(C) is where the entire zip gun law may be void on its face. Private citizens are exempt from needing to pay an excise tax on a home-built firearm. I do not know if the exemption mentioned in (C) covers the exemption that private citizens fall under.

I don't believe that a private party could even send in an excise tax payment if they wanted to.


I do know that a CG'er was arrested on zip gun charges for homebuilt firearms, by the LA gun unit IIRC, and that the charges were recently dismissed.

edit: yup, dantodd nailed it.

edit 2: And if you really want to get sneaky with it, build up that firearm as an AOW (with an approved Form 1 beforehand, of course), and then your 12020(b)(8) exemption exempts from the zip gun regs even without having to try to fall under one of the 12020(c)(10) exemptions.
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Last edited by ke6guj; 08-08-2009 at 9:51 PM..
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ke6guj View Post
edit 2: And if you really want to get sneaky with it, build up that firearm as an AOW (with an approved Form 1 beforehand, of course), and then your 12020(b)(8) exemption exempts from the zip gun regs even without having to try to fall under one of the 12020(c)(10) exemptions.
Building something that would require an NFA tax stamp was my first idea too.
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Old 08-08-2009, 9:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
Actually, upon closer reading there really is no need to base a homebuilt gun on a previous design.

if you read 12020(c)(10) any gun that is granted an exemption from taxation in Section 4181 Chapter 32 of Title 26 is not considered a zip gun.

Here this is section 4182 which lists exemptions to taxation under 4181:



It would seem that section 4182(c)(1) would exempt anyone making fewer than 50 firearms a year from excise tax. This exemption would appear to keep any gun manufactured by an individual fitting this section exempt from California's zip gun laws.

Anyone see how I am incorrect here?
I stand corrected. Nice Catch!
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ke6guj View Post
right now, the thought is that when you make a handgun, you must initially make it in a roster-exempt configuration to comply with CA laws about making an unsafe handgun. Once the handgun is made, there appears to be no law prohibiting you from converting it to another configuration.

So, it should be legal to make a single-action revolver that meets the dimensional requirements, which is roster exempt, and then later convert it to a double-action revolver. But initially making a double-action revolver would violate the law.
Ah. So: if the revolver I imitate is traditionally a DA one, but I remove the hammer strut, so it's SA only is that clearly legal? Or is that a grey area? I'm more interested in making guns than in making precedent, so would prefer to stay within the "clearly OK" part of things.

After it's made, do I register it w/ the DOJ?
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:46 PM
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two issues, one is the Roster issue, and hte second is the zip gun issue. I'd assume that just making it without the hammer strut should make it a roster-exempt single-action. Similar to how some CG'ers have had the linkage removed from some S&W revolvers to convert them to SA so that it could be legally imported and DROSed as a single action.

Unfortunately, the zip gun issue does have greyness involved.

And no, you are not required to register any homebuilt firearm with CADOJ.
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Old 08-09-2009, 3:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ke6guj View Post
two issues, one is the Roster issue, and hte second is the zip gun issue. I'd assume that just making it without the hammer strut should make it a roster-exempt single-action. Similar to how some CG'ers have had the linkage removed from some S&W revolvers to convert them to SA so that it could be legally imported and DROSed as a single action.

Unfortunately, the zip gun issue does have greyness involved.

And no, you are not required to register any homebuilt firearm with CADOJ.
Sorry --- I'm still kind of confused. If you *don't* register it, and you make a SA only, but later convert it, how do you make an official record of this sequence? I'm worried that if you don't have any official record, then years later if it came up that you had a DA revolver you manufacturered and you claimed "Oh, but I made it SA-only initially" they can just say "No you didn't" and haul you to court.

This is all theoretical in any case, but I am somewhat curious as to how CA law works for this. In a morbid way.
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Old 08-09-2009, 3:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazman View Post
Hmmm. So a Python action (I know what you are thinking!) with an antenna from a '63 Buick for a barrel is, me thinks, not the way to go here...
The problem is that there's a bunch of improvements you can make to the python action, but unfortunately I'm not sure it falls under "obviously legal" to build it like that from the beginning. You may wind up building a clone then modifying, which is kind of irritating.

But, all academic at the moment, at least until I can use my CNC adeptly.


Thanks for the 63buick tip. Hadn't thought of that one. Perhaps a second underlug?
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D.R.E. View Post
Sorry --- I'm still kind of confused. If you *don't* register it, and you make a SA only, but later convert it, how do you make an official record of this sequence? I'm worried that if you don't have any official record, then years later if it came up that you had a DA revolver you manufacturered and you claimed "Oh, but I made it SA-only initially" they can just say "No you didn't" and haul you to court.
thats just some of the
wierdness of the CA laws. There is no requirement that you document the sequence. How you prove you did it the correct way? Actually, its the other way around, they have to prove that you did it the wrong way. And if it happens more than 3 years after you made it, then the Statute of Limitations kicks in and it isn't prosecutable anymore.
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Old 08-09-2009, 1:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ke6guj View Post
thats just some of the
wierdness of the CA laws. There is no requirement that you document the sequence. How you prove you did it the correct way? Actually, its the other way around, they have to prove that you did it the wrong way. And if it happens more than 3 years after you made it, then the Statute of Limitations kicks in and it isn't prosecutable anymore.
Thanks for the clarification! The 3 year is good to know. (You would have to document that somehow?)

I'd be nice if they needed proof For a conviction they just need 12 california people to say a purported gun nut is evil. If you wound up with a bunch of vegatarians or, hell, anyone that isn't a calguns regular, I don't know if I like the odds.

I'm assuming to not bring the case in the first place they need to see it's either (1) clearly, obviously legal or (2) if in a grey area clearly unwinnable. I'd prefer if it was (1) or (2) so I didn't have to fight in court. I hope your experience has been different than mine, but the cost of defense is not trivial, esp when you better spare no expense b/c the penalty is high. (I don't believe you recoup legal costs for something like this, correct?)

In any case I didn't mean to derail this into a rathole of random whining --- thanks for all the clarifications!
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