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Black Powder guns considered firearms?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by catinthebat, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. catinthebat

    catinthebat Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if old black powder guns (Ones like the 1851 Navy), are considered firearms like any other gun out there, or are they in a separate category?

    If they are, do you still need to be 21 years of age to own/cary one?
  2. The answer will depend on the state you live in.
  3. catinthebat

    catinthebat Well-Known Member

    I live in Washinton state.
  4. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    At the Federal level, they are not considered firearms and can be shipped right to your front door. At the state level, that varies, as Jorg said.
  5. mister_murphy

    mister_murphy Well-Known Member

    I guess, you would say, it depends...

    U.S. vs Green link:http://www.constitution.org/2ll/bardwell/us_v_green.txt

    I am guessing that the "firearm" in question in this case was .36 cal.
  6. St8LineGunsmith

    St8LineGunsmith Member.

    Title IV of the Omnibus Act defines the term "firearm" as:

    (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is
    designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile
    by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of
    any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer;
    or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an
    antique firearm.

    18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(3) (emphasis supplied). The term "antique
    firearm" is further defined as:

    (A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock,
    flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system)
    manufactured in or before 1898; and (B) any replica of any
    firearm described in subparagraph (A), if such replica-
    (i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or
    conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (ii) uses
    rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which
    is not readily available in the ordinary commercial

    18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(16).

    Special Agent Dennis Jones testified at the hearing that the
    weapon in question is not capable of firing rimfire, or fixed
    cartridge ammunition. Rather, the weapon's ignition system utilizes
    black powder, a lead ball and a percussion cap. Jones further
    testified that the weapon is a replica of an 1859 Remington model
    black powder and ball pistol. It is thus undisputed that the weapon
    falls within the definition of "antique firearm" under Title IV.
    Therefore, under the interpretation of Title VII employed by the
    Bureau, the weapon in question would not be considered a "firearm"
    within the coverage of Title VII, 18 U.S.C. App. section 1202(a).
    Defendant urged the Court to grant deference to the agency's
    interpretation of 18 U.S.C. App. section 1202(a) and to find that
    the indictment did not charge an offense under that statute.

    looks like the court ruled in contradiction of what is stipulated as a fire arm or not according to the testimony of Special Agent Dennis Joned.

    I wonder if the ruling would have been diffrent if the defendant did not have a prior criminal record as a known felon?

    despite this fallacy of the courts ruling does not change the fact of what the BATFE classifies as a fire arm or not.
  7. Midwest

    Midwest Well-Known Member

    In New Jersey a person needs a purchase permit for a handgun in order to buy a black powder pistol. Or they need the Firearms ID Card to buy a black powder long gun.

    Since black powder is defined by the state of NJ as a firearm, but not at the Federal Level. NJ gun owners have gone to other states (like PA) to buy black powder firearms and bought them back into the state. The argument is that there is no interstate regulation on black powder firearms. It is not against Federal Law to buy a black powder firearm in another state. There might be state laws against mail order black powder firearms (like in NJ) because the person must buy them in state from a FFL.

    Others might disagree because Federal laws state that laws in both states must permit it. But Federal law does not apply to this because black powder is not a firearm at the Federal Law and does not have the interstate restrictions that are in the 1968 GCA . This has been discussed at length in the njgunforums.com.

    Other states have restrictions on whether a black powder is a firearm or not. In NY state a black powder firearm becomes a firearm once it is loaded, thus a black powder pistol has to be added on to the NY state pistol permit at that point.

    Can felons can use black powder firearms since they are not 'firearms' at the Federal Level, but undefined at the state level. There are threads out there including here on THR that have addressed this issue. Read the threads and consult state laws and an attorney if need be.

    In some states that require firearm ID cards, and in some cases while a black powder firearm is not considered a firearm in some of those states. A firearms ID card is needed to buy the actual black powder. I believe Massachusetts might be one of these states.

    Cabelas and other online companies usually have a 'restricted ship' list of states, cities, areas and counties they will not ship certain items to. This will give you a quick 'at a glance' guide to what areas have laws that regulate black powder items. From there one needs to look carefully at the state laws.

    As far as using a black powder firearm for conceal carrying or open carrying in those states that do not specifically address it, a loaded black powder firearm is a weapon in as much a knife, baseball bat or sword is.

    I am not a lawyer and people need to look further and consult an attorney in advance, especially if issues like a felon wants to use black powder firearms in some states.

    Some have argued that black powder firearms can be had by felons, black powder cannot be possessed by felons by Federal law. When in doubt take up bow and arrow.

    Or for that matter non felons using black powder for conceal or open carry without a permit. Check state laws and consult an attorney.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    A black powder gun is not a "firearm" under federal law as administered by BATFE.
    State law varies.
    Other organizations may differ, the Post Office is tough on any sort of gun, even an airgun.
    Carrying a black powder gun (or about anything else) "for the purpose of going armed" is not allowed in many jurisdictions.
  9. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    Federally, muzzle loading guns are not considered firearms. They are, however, still considered deadly weapons, thus unlawful to possess if you are a prohibited person (as are bows, long knives, etc).
  10. cyclopsshooter

    cyclopsshooter Well-Known Member

    You are not required to do paperwork in WA
  11. St8LineGunsmith

    St8LineGunsmith Member.

    this is my opinion on the matter
    this is where the federal law should have jurisdiction over state law
    state law makers should not have the power to make laws that contradict federal guidelines.
    like I said this is my opinion others may or may not agree.
  12. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    Washington state law: RCW 9.41.010(1) defines an antique firearm for the state of WA. It is NOT identical to the US code, but it is close... Also, remember to look at the exemptions in RCW 9.41.060 (prohibitions and in .050)

    Loosely, if it is BP, it is considered an antique, and in most instances is not subject to the rest of RCW 9.41. There are execptions, and exemptions, though so read the whole of RCW 9.41 and you will be able to determine if the activity you propose is legal or not. Remember, that which is not prohibited, is permitted, so read carefully.

    If you are under 21, go to www.opencarry.org and look for the thread (WA forum) on "greens guide to carry for under 21". This was very well researched by a young guy that was under 21 at the time. here is the link: http://forum.opencarry.org/forums/s...s-Guide-to-18-20-quot-Carry-quot-of-a-handgun

    Oh, missed part: You can purchace and own any weapon that is legal to own in WA at 18 (under some circumstances >18) if you are not a federally prohibited person. You just cannot purchase them from an FFL...that prohibition is on the FFL, not the citizen. The FFL is not allowed to SELL to anyone under 21.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  13. Excelsior

    Excelsior New Member

    I've seen so many threads and so much disinformation out there concerning felons and black powder guns. Each individual state will have their own laws governing, however, from a federal law standpoint, yes, felons can own and hunt with Black powder guns, so long as they meet very specific criteria. From the ATF Website Q&A:

    1. Can a person prohibited by law from possessing a firearm acquire and use a black powder muzzle loading firearm?

    The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) prohibits felons and certain other persons from possessing or receiving firearms and ammunition (“prohibited persons”). These categories can be found at 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and (n) in http://atf.gov/publications/download/p/atf-p-5300-4.pdf.

    However, Federal law does not prohibit these persons from possessing or receiving an antique firearm. The term “antique firearm” means any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898. The definition includes any replica of an antique firearm if it is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or uses rimfire or conventional centerfire ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States, and which is not readily available in ordinary channels of commercial trade. Further, any muzzle loading rifle, shotgun, or pistol which is designed to use black powder or black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition, is an “antique firearm” unless it (1) incorporates a firearm frame or receiver; (2) is a firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon; or (3) is a muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof. See 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), (a)(16).

    Thus, a muzzle loading weapon that meets the definition of an “antique firearm” is not a firearm and may lawfully be received and possessed by a prohibited person under the GCA. In addition, the GCA defines the term “ammunition” to mean “ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.” Because an “antique firearm” is not a “firearm,” it would is lawful for a prohibited person to receive or possess black powder designed for use in an “antique firearm.” Also, the Federal explosives laws do not make it unlawful for a prohibited person to acquire and possess black powder in quantities not exceeding fifty pounds if it is intended to be used solely for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes in “antique firearms.”
    See 18 U.S.C. § 845(a)(5)

    By contrast, a prohibited person may not receive or possess black powder firearms that can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof. ATF has classified certain muzzle loading models as firearms. All of these models incorporate the frame or receiver of a firearm that is capable of accepting barrels designed to fire conventional rimfire or centerfire fixed ammunition. These muzzle loading models do not meet the definition of “antique firearm” as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(16), and are “firearms”
    as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3). Furthermore, as firearms, these and similar models, regardless of the barrel installed on the firearm or provided with the firearm, are subject to all provisions of the GCA. Persons who purchase these firearms from licensed dealers are required to fill out a Firearms Transaction Record, ATF Form 4473, and are subject to a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check. Felons and other prohibited persons may not lawfully receive or possess these firearms or ammunition.

    The following is a list of weapons that load from the muzzle and are classified as firearms, not antiques, under the GCA, because they incorporate the frame or receiver of a firearm:

    • Savage Model 10ML (early, 1st version)
    • Mossberg 500 shotgun with muzzle loading barrel
    • Remington 870 shotgun with muzzle loading barrel
    • Mauser 98 rifle with muzzle loading barrel
    • SKS rifle with muzzle loading barrel
    • PB sM10 pistol with muzzle loading barrel
    • H&R/New England Firearm Huntsman
    • Thompson Center Encore/Contender
    • Rossi .50 muzzle loading rifle

    This list is not complete and frequently changes. There may be other muzzle loaders also classified as firearms. As noted, any muzzle loading weapon that is built on a firearm frame or receiver falls within the definition of a firearm provided in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3).
    Finally, even though a prohibited person may lawfully possess an antique firearm under Federal law, State or local law may classify such weapons as “firearms” subject to regulation. Any person considering acquiring a black powder weapon should contact his or her State Attorney General’s Office to inquire about the laws and possible State or local restrictions. A list of State Attorney General contact numbers may be found at www.naag.org.

    Hopefully this helps!
  14. joecil

    joecil Well-Known Member

    It really does depend on the state laws. I moved to Texas in 78 and hadn't gotten my Texas DL yet. I went into a little gun shop to buy some 22 LR ammo for my Ruger Single Six and they wouldn't sell it to me however he did sell me a Navy Colt 36 cal, cap and ball pistol with enough bullets and powder to start the Civil War all over again, go figure, but they didn't consider it a fire arm in the true sense of the word.
  15. Mayvik

    Mayvik Well-Known Member

    "However, Federal law does not prohibit these persons from possessing or receiving an antique firearm. The term “antique firearm” means any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898. "

    So Federally if one was sufficiently motivated and funded to go purchase say an original Colt 1889 that meets the mfg date limitation, despite being a relatively modern DA revolver it's an antique firearm by above definition and they would be covered. However, a replica Colt 1873 which fires commonly available 45 LC would not be covered. Obscure calibers for reproductions or "late originals" (post 1898) would probably be a crap shoot depending on the court's definition of ammunition that is "readily available through commercial channels" - are obscure old calibers that are available through specialty houses (are these mfgs, "commercial reloaders"?), is Fiocchi or Prvi mfg obscure ammo considered mfg in the USA if you can buy it here, does the headstamp read "455 Webley" or is the brass repurposed from a more common caliber, etc etc.

    Hopefully I never have to figure this out for myself...but I would tend to err on the side of "if it's possible for you to get hosed by one interpretation, that's probably what will happen".

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