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California man turns water gun into shotgun, faces charges

Residents of California may not be aware of an emerging trend in gun manufacturing that could leave some facing federal firearms charges. Such an incident recently led to the arrest of a California man.

Police were freshly briefed about people constructing firearms from toys when they allegedly spotted a 54-year-old man with a super soaker water gun around his neck. Police stopped and questioned the man. Upon further inspection, the police say they discovered the child's toy contained a 20-gauge shotgun shell.

A gun expert noted the super soaker turned firearm was relatively inexpensive and easy to make. However, the expert also warned of the dangers involved in constructing a gun from toys. Gun powder used in the firearms cartridge of a self-made gun is an explosive, which can blow up like a hand grenade.

The man, a convicted felon, was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and manufacture of an illegal firearm, among other criminal offenses. Although the man was charged with state crimes, firearm charges such as possession of a prohibited weapon and felon in possession of a firearm may also be charged as federal crimes. Suspected violations of federal and state statues can result in a federal investigation and charges in addition to the state charges he is currently facing.

This man, like anyone else arrested, is innocent until proven guilty. Those facing federal firearms charges have constitutional and statutory rights that must be preserved during the course of any criminal investigation.

Federal weapons charges are serious and carry steep penalties, so it is important for individuals to stay current on federal laws. Since the man was charged with manufacturing an illegal weapon, it is not unreasonable to believe that someone could unknowingly manufacture a weapon that is not permitted by federal laws. Being aware of how changing laws may affect you could mean the difference between a prison sentence and continued liberty.

Source: Fox 26 News, "Man turns water gun into shotgun in Southeast Fresno, police say," Ashley Ritchie, May 21, 2012

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