Homemade firearms have always been legal in the country since before the Founding. Tinkering with and building your own guns is something several generations of Americans have done and continue to do, and it’s not too different from what the younger generation does today with e-bikes, computers, and drones. In addition to the hobbyist factor, building your own guns implicates the natural right of self-defense, which is constitutionally protected by the Second Amendment.
The usual suspect gun control states and the Biden ATF have been working towards putting impediments to homemade builds, including serialization requirements. In Minnesota, there is a serialization requirement that is tied to federal serialization requirements:
2022 Minnesota Statutes
609.667 FIREARMS; REMOVAL OR ALTERATION OF SERIAL NUMBER.
Whoever commits any of the following acts may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both:
(1) obliterates, removes, changes, or alters the serial number or other identification of a firearm;
(2) receives or possesses a firearm, the serial number or other identification of which has been obliterated, removed, changed, or altered; or
(3) receives or possesses a firearm that is not identified by a serial number.
As used in this section, “serial number or other identification” means the serial number and other information required under United States Code, title 26, section 5842, for the identification of firearms.
The federal identification requirements can be found here and the definitions can be found here, and it looks like serialization is limited to NFA firearms such as Short-Barreled Rifles and Short-Barreled Shotguns, not non-NFA homemade guns.
Unfortunately, an innocent young hobbyist in Minnesota is being prosecuted for building and possessing a non-NFA gun of his own. The following information comes from the site 2ALaw.com (archived links), via Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus Attorney Rob Doar’s Twitter/X feed:
In Becker, Minnesota, a 22-year-old man, Matthew “Walker” Anderson, is embroiled in a legal battle that could have far-reaching implications for gun owners across the state. Anderson is facing two felony charges for possessing privately made firearms that lack serial numbers. His mother, Sara Forgues, has described the situation as a gross misuse of Minnesota law. The charges stem from an incident in May 2022 when Anderson and a friend were target shooting on private property in Sherburne County. A neighbor’s complaint about firearm discharges led to the arrival of Sherburne County sheriff’s deputies. Despite no evidence supporting the neighbor’s claim, Anderson was detained, his firearms confiscated, and he was informed of the impending felony charges.
Anderson’s attorney, Blair Nelson, argues that the state statute does not require privately made firearms to have serial numbers. He contends that if the state law does indeed ban such firearms, it should be deemed unconstitutional. Rob Doar, senior vice president of government affairs with the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, agrees, stating that the prosecutor is misinterpreting poorly drafted legislation. He points out that before 1968, firearms were not even required to have serial numbers, yet they are still legal to own today. Forgues revealed that her son had consulted with an ATF agent prior to building his firearms to ensure he was abiding by all relevant laws. The agent reportedly confirmed that Anderson was not violating any federal or known state laws. As Anderson’s distressing legal battle continues, gun owners across Minnesota are watching closely, aware of the potential implications this case could have on their rights.
It looks like Mr. Anderson was not only a lawful, peaceable, non-prohibited person, he bent over backwards to contact an ATF agent to ensure that he was complying with state and federal law before building his gun. It makes it all the more infuriating that Mr. Anderson was 1) detained, 2) had his property taken from him, and 3) was charged with felonies.
Rob Doar of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus posted an update last week about the status of the case. Mr. Anderson had milled out the lower receiver of his gun, and the upper was a commercial product with a serial number. It’s unclear if that counts in the State’s eyes as serialization, although I doubt it. There’s also some wrangling with the prosecutor on the jury instructions, specifically whether the Minnesota statute that ties the serialization requirement to federal law should be disclosed to a potential jury or not.
The defense has hired an expert to provide testimony in support of Mr. Anderson, that there was no serialization requirement in either Minnesota or federal law applicable in this case. There is a hearing coming up in October at which the judge will decide whether to dismiss the case or proceed with a trial.
Apparently I was spitting so much fire my phone overheated.
Long story short, we have a hearing coming up in October, and the judge will decide to dismiss the case, or, determine jury instructions and the evidence allowed in court.
— Rob Doar (@robdoar) August 18, 2023
This case is important not just for Minnesotans but also for every American in the country. Building your own guns is a right and a tradition in this country. If you would like to pitch in to help Mr. Anderson fight off these charges, donation links can be found at 2ALaw.com