Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Individuals have been making their own firearms for the entire history of the United States and before. Homemade guns are not as popular as factory-made guns, because factory-made guns are easily and cheaply available in the United States. The Second Amendment has guaranteed that right.
It is a part of the right to keep and bear arms to be able to procure arms. A basic and fundamental way to procure arms is to make your own. Most home manufacture of firearms is for hobby or experimental purposes, although considerable homemade guns are produced in localities with extreme restrictions on the ownership of guns.
Delaware is in the process of passing a statute to make it illegal to make your own firearms or to even possess a piece of metal that is intended to be used to make a receiver. From the proposed statute, HB 277:
( ) “Unfinished firearm frame or receiver” means a firearm frame or receiver that requires further machining or molding in order to be used as part of a functional firearm, and which is designed and intended to be used in the assembly of a functional firearm.
( ) “Untraceable firearm” means an unlawfully manufactured firearm for which the sale or distribution chain from a licensed retailer to the point of its first retail sale cannot be traced by law enforcement officials.
The law makes it illegal to make your own firearms:
§ 1463 Untraceable firearms; Class E or D felony.
(a) A person is guilty of possessing an untraceable firearm when then person knowingly possesses an untraceable firearm.
(b) A person is guilty of manufacturing an untraceable firearm when the person knowingly manufactures, assembles, causes to be manufactured or assembled, sells, or transfers an untraceable firearm.
(c) A person is guilty of manufacturing or distributing a firearm using a three-dimensional printer when the person does any one of the following:
(1) Uses a three-dimensional printer or similar device to manufacture or produce a firearm, firearm frame or receiver, magazine, or major firearm component when not licensed as a manufacturer.
(2) Distributes by any means, including the internet, to a person who is not licensed as a manufacturer, instructions in the form of computer-aided design files or other code or instructions stored and displayed in electronic format as a digital model that may be used to program a three-dimensional printer to manufacture or produce a firearm, firearm frame or receiver, magazine, or major component of a firearm.
(d) Possession of a untraceable firearm is a Class E felony.
(e) Manufacturing an untraceable firearm or manufacturing or distributing a firearm using a three-dimensional printer is a Class D felony.
The law, if passed, will be challenged in court, on both First and Second Amendment grounds. The law applies to people without any criminal record. People with felonies are already forbidden from owning firearms. This law is to prevent people who are not criminals from making their own firearms.
It is a very new law to forbid law-abiding individuals from making firearms for their own use. Such a law has only been passed in the last two years, to my knowledge.
It is a direct violation of the First Amendment to forbid the transmission of knowledge on how to make firearms with digital code.
This sort of law is common in countries without a Bill of Rights to limit the power of the government. It is an easily followed path of logic. The government forbids most people from buying guns. The people start to make their own. Then the government forbids the buying of gun parts. Then it forbids the buying or transfer of information on how to make guns. It may forbid the ownership of machinery that can be used to make guns. Some raids in India, for example, show confiscated drills, welders, and files.
Nothing in the Second Amendment allows the government to create a registry of guns or to require them to be traced to the first retail sale. Such a thing is of virtually no use in solving crimes. Its sole purpose, it appears, is to pave the way for a registration system.
If Delaware passes this law, it will be following the steps of California (requires state serial number and following state manufacturing requirements), New Jersey (flat out ban), New York (firearm parts may only be sold to authorized buyers), Washington (bans “undetectable” guns), Connecticut (requires a state-issued serial number). These five states, and Delaware, if it passes the law, are all treading new ground with laws passed in the last two years.
The Washington state law may not be precisely in this group, as the law bans “undetectable guns”. Almost all homemade guns are easily detectable.
I have yet to see any court challenge to these laws. There was a court challenge on the legal ability to make your own machine guns, in Arizona, in the 1990s. The Ninth Circuit upheld that right, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. However, the case was complicated by other factors, and the Supreme Court had not yet decided Heller.
It is not surprising the five states above, sans Washington, all heavily infringe on the exercise of Second Amendment rights, by refusing to allow the legal carry of firearms by most of the population. They all have “may issue” laws, aggressively preventing most people from carrying firearms for self-defense.
About 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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.