If I made my own gun, would I have to register it?

Yesterday I was channel surfing and caught some show on the History Channel that was recreating a hypothetical early bamboo gun. It was basically just a hollowed out piece of bamboo, with a leather wrap around it to reinforce the barrel, plus a fuse.

If I made one of those, and kept it loaded and under the bed, would I be able to use that as a defensive weapon legally if someone broke into the house?

No, I’m not actually going to make one. Just curious.

Your mileage will vary by state, but in my own, Texas, I believe such a gun would be illegal (considered a zip gun). If you fashioned your own, proper gun (that wasn’t an NFA weapon) in your machine shop, I believe it would be legal as long as you didn’t transfer it (i.e. sell, trade, give away, etc.). There is no registration of firearms in Texas, just a licensing procedure if you wish to carry a concealed handgun. I don’t believe there are any federal laws covering manufacture of non-NFA weapons for your personal use (at least the last time I looked several years ago), but I am unsure whether you would be required to stamp a serial number into the frame. Note that you can assemble kit blackpowder weapons without any licensing. I believe that the only part of dealing with blackpowder weapons that is regulated is the purchasing of the powder itself (and caps too for percussion cap firearms). However, please note that I am not a lawyer and my knowledge of this stuff is rather rusty.


If you’re in Montana, you wouldn’t (for now anyways):


Don’t even think about trying to recreate one of these primitive guns. You’ll blow your hand off. There’s a reason why nobody uses them anymore.

I was reading in a book about the history of firearms, of some African rebellion in the mid 20th century in which tribesmen used these makeshift guns - it said that they killed themselves more often than they killed the enemy. Even today there are horror stories of exploding “Khyber Pass” hand-made Enfield and AK clones brought back by soldiers, and that’s at the highest echelon of homemade gun making.

Any higher than that and you’re talking about a legitimate bespoke gunsmith.

If you build your own car (from parts or from scratch), don’t you have to register it?


So we drove up town just to get the tags
And I headed her right on down main drag
I could hear everybody laughin’ for blocks around
But up there at the court house they didn’t laugh
'Cause to type it up it took the whole staff
And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.
Full lyrics.

Only if you drive it on a public road. So far as firearms go, not every state requires you to register them.

Everything you ever wanted to know about firearms can usually be answered by the BATFE.

I assume that by registration you mean getting approval for manufacture. If by registration you mean permission from your state to possess, you’d have to check your local statutes.

In any event, it does not appear that the BATFE would have a problem with it.

I once bought a Ruger 9mm in OH. After the background check, I paid for it, and said “Ok, how do I register it?”

The guy says “You are not required to register a handgun in the state of Ohio.” I said “Ok, but i’d like to if that’s ok.”

He said “You are not required to register a handgun in the state of Ohio.”

We had an awkward silence, and I left. I chose not to argue because he, and the other employees were all packing, and would have been a fool to make an issue of it.

What did you think? That they were going to shoot you or something because you wanted to register the gun? I’m not getting your line of reasoning here. And why would you want to register it if you didn’t have to, anyway?

I left there asking myself the same question. I suppose I wanted to be as legal as possible, and to have full disclosure in the case of some sort of legal issue. The naivete of buying a gun for the first time made me overly open as far as my personal info goes, I supposed it was better that way than the other at the time. I now know better.

Seriously? Maybe my attempt at humor was unsuccessful, but no, I did not think I would have been murdered in the store had I insisted upon registration.

If the state has no gun registration, then there isn’t any system set up for gun registration. Who would you register it with?

(Tag) Good question.

My advice would be to call 911 and ask to talk to the police. Then, ask your question there, and then let us know. :slight_smile:


Don’t call 911 for something like that. If you want to ask the cops a question, there is probably a listed number in the phone book or that you can find on Google without involving the 911 switchboard.

Of course, IANA911D, but I’ve heard enough stories for people getting arrested because they called 911 for non-emergency issues (my personal favorite is the story of a young girl who called 911 for help with her math homework. She didn’t get arrested, actually. In fact, they helped her with her subtraction problems.)

Here’s what happened to me:

My car got towed because I didn’t know if a particular day had the parking hours enforced or not (the sign had the holidays exception.)

I called the police, they told me to call 911 and ask for the dispatcher. I called 911 and apologized for using the line, but they told me it’s fine. The dispatcher (the person in charge of parking violations) can only be contacted through 911.

The second time, I had questions about moped law. I couldn’t find the police station’s number, and 911 connected me directly after I asked if they had the police’s number. The sergeant on the other end was extremely helpful, and stayed on the line with me for about a half an hour.

Another time, I had a question about the fire department. 911 connected me again, and the firemen told me that they don’t have a direct call number, and that they can only be called through 911.

So, calling 911 for information is perfectly fine in my state.

Actually, on rare occasion, we would have people come in to the station and say they bought a gun and wanted to know how to register it. The explanation that there was no gun registration in Wisconsin was always met with the “Deer in headlights” look so we would run the persons name to make sure they had no warrants, and run the gun serial number to make sure it wasn’t on the stolen list (not once in 25+ years do I know of any of them coming up stolen). Then we would tell the dumb ass his gun was registered and watch them walk on their merry way. Then we would throw the info away.

One possible reason could be the difference between owning and using. Years (many) ago I had one of the P-08 models that wasn’t on the BATF list as needing to be registered. Problem was I wanted to use it as one of my carry pieces and that list kept changing. To keep the State happy and all, and to be extra-sure of my position in case I needed to use it, I registered it Federally (which was allowed but not required). Had I only been keeping it at home, even loaded, in PA I probably wouldn’t have bothered - but taking it outside changed things from what I read.

Buttons - Things could have changed in the last few years but the old rule of thumb was that if it takes “brass” shells, you can’t scratch-build it without a license. If its a handgun, probavly not even assemble it from parts without a license. If it loads from the muzzle or breech with powder and all separate, have fun and build away. Use thereof is a state matter and that varies a lot. But if someone has broken into my home and run afoul of one of my .69 belt pistols, I’m not real worried that the thing was home-made and doesn’t have a serial number let alone registration papers.

Of course. Think about it this way…

If you wanted to register your TV in Florida, who do you need to contact? There is no such registry as far as I am aware and there are no structures in place to accommodate one’s registration fetish. Now, the stolen property registries are a different thing, but they only put stolen property on it - it isn’t a general registry where people can list all their stuff.

Now, if you really wanted to perform OCD dilligence, you could probably write a letter to the local PD with your info and your gun’s info - they will probably throw it away but you could say that you notified the government and sleep easier at night…

Agreed. I think most of the misinformation comes from crime dramas filmed in NYC which DOES require gun registration. The good guy always says “Hey, that gun is legally registered to me!” and the bad guys don’t have a registration.

But in most of the free parts of the country, the government doesn’t register your guns anymore than they would your computer, and as you rightly point out they don’t set up a voluntary system for registering guns either.