Homemade guns are a “growing threat” in Northern California. That’s according to Susan C. Schena of the Rohnert Park-Cotati Patch, writing in the wake of the July 21 murder suicide in which 21-year-old Scott Bertics allegedly killed his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend and himself with a legally made homemade gun.
The Patch cites ATF spokeswoman Helen Dunkel’s comments on what the San Francisco field division has witnessed. Dunkel said, “We’re starting to see more and more [homemade guns]. It’s been a trend over the last couple years in our division.”
But Dunkel stresses that building such guns is perfectly legally as long as the person building it is not a felon and is not building a gun that is illegal to posses without federal oversight–i.e., a machine gun or shot barreled shotgun.
Dunkel said, “As long as it’s not in that category, you, who has no record, can manufacture a firearm.”
In addition, it should be noted that although building a gun is legal, doing so is not easy. After Bertics allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend, Walnut Creek police Lt. Lanny Edwards commented on building on a homemade gun, saying, “This should not be seen as something that can easily be done. He knew what he was doing.”
And, in fact, Bertics had worked with robotics at Stanford University, so his mind was wired for mechanical projects.
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) offered a bill in 2014 to require citizens who build homemade guns to put a serial number on the gun and register it with the state. Governor Jerry Brown (D) rejected the idea, explaining that he did not see “how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety.”
Indeed, if Bertics legally built and legally possessed the gun he allegedly used in an illegal fashion it is hard to ascertain how a serial number on that gun would have made a difference.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.