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Current or Pending Legislation (as of May 1997)

Definition: The terms "Saturday Night Special" and "junk gun" traditionally refer to cheap or inexpensive handguns which, because of their low accuracy and high failure rate, are considered by many as unsuitable for sporting or self-protection purposes. These low quality handguns usually have a barrel length of under three inches, or for pistols, an overall length of under six inches.

Because of the quality of materials they are made of, they are said to be dangerous and unreliable. Newer, more detailed definitions of Saturday Night Specials, such as the one put forward by the West Hollywood, CA ordinance, are being written into law as the movement to ban the weapons picks up momentum.

The West Hollywood ordinance defines a Saturday Night Special as any handgun in which the main assembly parts (i.e. the frame, barrel, breechlock, cylinder and slide) are not completely fabricated out of heat-treated carbon steel, forged alloy or other material of equal or higher tensile strength.

Because of the inferior quality of the alloys these parts are made of, the gun cannot reliably contain the its own ballistic power. This means they are chambered to fire high pressure ammunition without the reliable ability to contain the pressures generated by the force of a bullet leaving the gun's chamber and barrel. Also, many currently produced derringers and single action revolvers that derive from century-old designs which were not intended for the blast put out by ammunition being sold today, are also being targeted by this legislation.

 
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