30% of Confiscated Firearms in California are Homemade

30% of Confiscated Firearms in California are Homemade
30% of Confiscated Firearms in California are Homemade

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Several media outlets in California have teamed up with the anti-Second Amendment organization, The Trace, to investigate and write about homemade guns in California. They claim that BATFE sources say 30 percent of guns confiscated in California are homemade. Given there are over 400 million guns in private hands in the United States, and the border between California and other states is porous, and only lightly regulated; it seems an extraordinary number. From nbcbayarea.com:

An Investigation by NBC Bay Area in partnership with NBC San Diego, NBC Los Angeles, and the non-profit journalists at The Trace found that law enforcement agencies across California are recovering record numbers of ghost guns. According to several ATF sources, 30 percent of all guns now recovered by agents in communities throughout California are homemade, un-serialized firearms, known on the street as “ghost guns.”

Guns have been made at home and in small shops for the entire history of the USA.  From criminaldefeselawyer.com:

Individuals in this country have been making their own guns for centuries. The practice is deeply rooted in our constitutional history and tradition. Legal scholars have recognized that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms would be meaningless in practice unless the state afforded individuals the ability to exercise that right—which includes making their own guns.

For the past almost half-century, however, the sale and subsequent control of firearms have been heavily regulated by federal law. It may come as somewhat of a surprise that even in this era of regulation, it is still completely legal to make and own a homemade gun. Even more surprising is the fact that a gun made wholly or even twenty percent at home need not be registered and its owner is not required to be licensed.

The individual manufacture of guns has not been illegal or regulated at all until very recently, and then only ineffectively. California recently required people who wish to make guns at home to apply for a state-supplied serial number before they make the gun. The law has been largely ignored.

Government regulation of individual making of firearms is probably unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, as applied to the states by the fourteenth amendment. It should be unconstitutional for the federal government because of lack of jurisdiction, but with the promiscuous application of the commerce clause to all activities, that remains to be seen.

In the world at large, the making of guns at home has been criminalized in nations with fewer Constitutional protections than the United States. That has not stopped homemade and small, clandestine shop manufacture. From Beyond State Control, published by the Small Arms Survey:

Improvised and craft-produced small arms account for a sizable proportion of weapons seized in domestic law enforcement operations in several countries. In the UK, some 80 per cent of all guns used in crime in 2011 and 2012 were improvised, craft-produced, or converted; in São Paulo, Brazil, 48 per cent of the sub-machine guns recovered during the same period were homemade; and in Indonesia, 98 percent of the guns confiscated from robbery suspects in 2013 were homemade.

The approach pushed by those who wish for a disarmed population is not reasonable or achievable. The FGC9 shown in the picture does not use any parts considered to be “gun parts” in the European Union, which has far, far stricter restrictions on firearms than any being considered in the United States.

The magazine is a homemade version of the Glock magazines. The barrel is homemade from a steel tube, with the machining done by a homemade, inexpensive, electrochemical machining apparatus that cost less than $100. The homemade machine created bore, chamber, and rifling that are fully functional. Other parts were printed on inexpensive 3D printers.

I have my doubts about the 30% figure. It seems quite high. While the article about “Ghost Guns” harps on the lack of any ability to trace homemade firearms, the utility of tracing guns in preventing crime has, at best, been minimal. Tracing guns only allows someone to determine to whom the first retail sale of the gun was made.  That results in a few guns being returned to their legitimate owners each year. Otherwise, it has almost no effect.

Most guns move through many hands before they are used in a crime. Determining the first retail owner results in a dead-end once the gun is stolen. The totalitarian impulse is to restrict the law-abiding access to gun parts; then to information on making guns, then to access to machine tools. It never works to reduce crime.

As shown in other countries, limiting access to firearms parts or even to machine tools has been spectacularly ineffective. Homemade/small shop guns are being made in Australia, India, Brazil, China, Canada, and now, in spectacular quantities, California.

The United States is a first-world country with easy access to metals, machine tools, electricity, and computing power. Making guns is 15th-century technology. Making an unregulated gun in the United States is a weekend project any hobbyist is capable of.

The attempt to reduce the access to legal guns has resulted in a burgeoning culture that creates guns beyond state control.  There are physical limits to what California laws can accomplish. It appears they are bumping up against those limits in their zeal to disarm their population.

At what point do the proponents of disarming the public admit their scheme is counter-productive, ineffective, and does nothing to stop crime?

Never. It is not criminals they wish to stop from having guns. It is you. Failing that, they wish to make you into a criminal.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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