Randy Smith, a 54-year-old living in Fresno, Calif., was arrested after officers discovered that the water gun slung around his neck was loaded with a shotgun shell. Smith was detained for being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, a felon in possession of a firearm and a manufacturer of an illegal weapon.
Ordinarily, the officers would not have thought to check the Super Soaker, but they had recently been briefed on the trend of citizens turning toys into weapons.
After inspecting the water gun, they found a shotgun shell instead of water.
Smith created what’s called a zip gun, a homemade gun that can fire one shot. With a little engineering knowledge, a zip gun can be created using a flashlight, a pen or a PVC pipe.
“Basically with a hand drill and some plumbing pipe, you’re done,” said Bill Mayfield, who works at Gilmay Guns in Fresno. “The firearms cartridge with the gun powder is an explosive. The device they’re building has to be able to contain the pressure of that explosion. So they’re just relying on, maybe this will hold up. Well, you could be putting a gun next to your head, or you could be putting a hand grenade next to your head.”
Sgt. Mark Hudson of the Fresno police said: “Certainly, this person was up to no good.”