It’s no secret that DIY guns, sometimes referred to as ghost guns, have a bad reputation in this country. Despite the bad rep, their popularity continues to grow with the American gun enthusiast. As gun legislation continues to tighten in certain states, more and more buyers are turning to building their own firearms. To prevent further misunderstanding and miseducation, there are some common misconceptions of homemade firearms that need to be cleared up.
Myth: You Can’t Ship 80% Gun Kits
Truth: The creation of the U.S. Constitution (and Bill of Rights) guaranteed certain basic rights for citizens, like an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. If owning a gun is legal in your state, then it could be totally legal to have an unfinished frame sent in the mail. According to the ATF, 80% lower receivers are not considered to be functioning firearms. So, until sending a hunk of metal in the mail becomes illicit, DIY guns will continue to be legally sent to doorsteps around the country. State and local laws are constantly changing though, and just because something’s legal federally doesn’t mean it’s legal for you. For your own sake, check state and local laws before getting involved in a gun build project!
Myth: Homemade Firearms Encourage Criminals To Commit Crimes
Truth: There is a very common misconception that only criminals are interested in buying guns off-the-books so they can do bad things without being tracked. This is simply just not true. Prohibited people are not allowed to own personally made firearms in the same way they are not allowed to own store purchased firearms.
A DIY firearm is less about skirting convention and more about creating a personal experience within the firearms space. Building a personal gun provides the amateur gunsmith a chance to learn about the assembly and function of their homemade firearms. It’s also a way for a law-abiding citizen who values their privacy to buy a gun.
Myth: You Can Own a Military Assault Weapon
Truth: As defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934, civilians are not allowed to own military assault rifles. Civilians are allowed to own rifles modeled after military assault rifles. There are two main differences between a civilian legal rifle and an assault rifle: select-fire capabilities and barrel length.
On a DIY gun, the most noticeable difference is select fire. The side of the firearm features a switch that allows the gun to be changed from ‘safe’ to ‘fire.’ On civilian legal rifles, ‘fire’ means semi-automatic. One squeeze of the trigger; one round fired. On assault rifles, there is a third position; fully automatic. One squeeze of the trigger; multiple rounds fired.
The other main difference is the barrel length. All civilian legal rifles must have a barrel length of 16” or longer. This archaic law prevents firearms with a buttstock from having a barrel shorter than 16”.
Myth: AR Stands For ‘Automatic Rifle’
To start, the AR-15 is a civilian legal version of the military M16. There is one main difference, the AR-15 is not an assault rifle, and the M16 is. They look and operate very similarly, however, the AR-15 is not select-fire and it has a barrel of 16”, as mentioned before.
It is a common misconception that the AR letters in some homemade firearms stand for ‘assault rifle’. Other common misconceived names for AR are; automatic rifle or even ‘A-Rifle.’ None of these are correct. In fact, with DIY guns, the AR in AR-15 or AR-10 stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s.
The terms AR-15 or AR-10 are actually branded names. The numbers 15 and 10 are merely model numbers. They have nothing to do with magazine capacity or rate of fire.
Myth: Open Carry And Conceal Carry Are Unrelated
Truth: When it comes to customizing your personal firearm at home, rules about concealed carry may be skewed. Open carry and concealed carry are a set of laws that allow a person to carry a firearm. Open carry requires persons to carry their DIY gun in plain sight. Federal law does not actually restrict open carry, but five states (including DC) have passed laws banning it.
Concealed carry allows persons to carry a hidden firearm on them. Each state has its own set of rules when it comes to licensing, training, and determining when, where, and how someone is allowed to conceal carry. Check the local laws before ordering homemade firearms parts that you intend to carry concealed.
Open carry protects conceal carry in a legal sense, but not a physical sense. If someone is legally carrying their DIY gun concealed and they accidentally expose it, they can be charged with brandishing. This charge could be a misdemeanor or felony and may require legal actions to correct. Open carry a is sort of legal buffer between accidentally exposing a legal firearm and brandishing a firearm.
Myth: Homemade Guns Are Inherently Dangerous
Truth: Basic gunsmith knowledge and the ability to work specific tools are required when completing a firearm. How safe a homemade gun is to build depends on the personal safety precautions that the builder practices. How safe a DIY gun is when it’s finished depends on the safety practices of the user, as with any other weapon.
Myth: You Can’t Make a Hobby Out of Building Guns
Truth: What most opposers forget is that shooting is a skill and a form of art. Survivalists shoot their prey for food, a skilled gunsmith enjoys a good target practice, and good citizens will continue to protect their families and properties, armed with their DIY guns.
Customizing a personal firearm is self-satisfying. The time, patience, and craftsmanship that goes into every milled part on a homemade firearm require the same blood, sweat, and tears that any other dedicated hobbyist puts into their craft.
The bottom line is, the correct way to deal with issues related to firearms is to have informed debates, rather than continually spreading misinformation. Do your part and stay educated on your local gun laws. JSD Supply has been helping people stay legal since 2013.