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Old April 17, 2012, 05:04 PM   #1
WV_gunner
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Antique and cap and ball guns on federal property

I know guns made before 1898 and replicas firing non commercially made catridge's have little no laws except on machine guns. I know even a felon can own these guns. My question is this, since they aren't considered your typical firearm by federal law, does that mean they may be carried on federal property? My reasoning for asking is we have a mail box at the post office and there's a few shady people in the area at night, which seems to be the only time I have to check it. I'm always holding the keys in one hand and my other hand in pocket while holding a pocket knife. The chances are slim of anything happening, but who knows. And the thought of a local post office was just robbed at night a few weeks ago is always in my mind. I don't want to be in the right place at the wrong time. So, is it legal to have one of those guns on me? I can't find much information. Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old April 17, 2012, 09:56 PM   #2
kilimanjaro
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As far as I know, the laws about carrying a firearm in a federal building apply to all firearms, regardless of ATF classifications. Splitting hairs is not something to try when federal felonies are involved.
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Old April 17, 2012, 10:49 PM   #3
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
I know guns made before 1898 and replicas firing non commercially made catridge's have little no laws ...My question is this, since they aren't considered your typical firearm by federal law, does that mean they may be carried on federal property? My reasoning for asking is we have a mail box at the post office and there's a few shady people in the area at night,...
Two problems with that reasoning:

[1] The applicable USPS regulation is 39 CFR 232.1(l), which reads (emphasis added):
Quote:
(l) Weapons and explosives. No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.
So the prohibition covers not only guns, but any weapon. Of course, we regularly debate whether a gun is a weapon. But if you're carrying a gun (even black powder) for self defense, it'll be pretty hard to convince anyone it's not a weapon.

[2] While in general antique and black powder guns may be exempt from various requirements of some gun laws, that doesn't mean that they won't be considered firearms for other purposes.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:17 PM   #4
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It must also be kept in mind that it's probably incorrect to assume that pre-1898 blackpowder firearms and replicas thereof are subject to "little or no laws." It is true that they can be bought or sold without going through an FFL (with the possible exception of a couple of recalcitrant states). But there are different laws pertaining to carrying firearms, and even defining what a firearm is with respect to carry, than those applicable to purchasing.

I took a quick look at the section of the US Code that covers carry of firearms on USPS property. I didn't see a "Definitions" section at the start, but there may be one a couple of sections earlier in that area of the US Code. If not, we would need to know to what the US Code defaults for definitions of terms that are not defined with the law itself.

I know for a fact that my home state treats these handguns just like Federal law does -- there is a factory outlet for one of the black powder companies up-state, and I can walk into their showroom and walk out with a clone of a black powder Colt or Remington revolver, with no paperwork other than a receipt for the sale. BUT ... the laws of my home state are clear that these ARE considered forearms for purposes of carry, and to carry or transport one I need the same carry permit I need to carry or transport a Glock.

There are a LOT of laws in this country, and definitions do not remain the same across the board.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:24 PM   #5
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There's no grey area here. There are tens of thousands of laws on the books. Hundreds of thousands if all jurisdictions are included. They have us by the short and curlies where all bases are covered. I wouldn't be surprised even if toy guns without red tips were restricted by some unknown statute on PO property. Don't think that's too far fetched. Those toy guns are against the law in lots of crazy places.

You'd be amazed at what the feds could collar you for on indian reservations. I'm part cherokee so I can say indian. I don't know about whether, or not the feds care about felons handling antiques, or c&b's in their homes, or street, but I can say for sure if it's loaded then they're toast. That's crossing a line that takes it from harmless non gun to just another everyday loaded weapon.

It is what is, so try not to think about technicalities in the law in order to get around the law. Those technicalities can work against you as much as for you. Always ask an attorney if worrying about the possibility that you could be breaking a law. Sometimes on forums people will advise you to go ahead, it's just an antique, or for Pete's sake it's an obsolete cap and ball, so what law could you possibly be breaking. Hell you're only mailing a letter. Oy vay!
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Old April 18, 2012, 06:56 AM   #6
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I for sure don't want to go to a federal prison, so I'd like to avoid that. Who do I contact to know the local laws? If it is actually legal, I'd be surprised. Probably just bring my small fixed blade knife for now on.
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Old April 18, 2012, 08:37 AM   #7
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If you stop and cut through all the big words and just look at the intent of the regulations.....The Post Office (Federal Govt) does not want anyone bringing a GUN into the Post Office. That is about as simple as it can be explained. So in simple terms... Don't Do It!

You could gamble that your lawyers will be sharper than their lawyers and might be able to keep you out of Federal prison. You might win the case. You might lose the case. It could / will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. So even if you win, you lose.

Yes there is a 99% chance that they will arrest you if they find you with a loaded percussion handgun (say a Colt or Pietta 1860 Army) in the Post Office.

The more the lawyers argue that x is a firearm / x is not a firearm during your trial... the more money it costs you. By the way, I have percussion black powder guns both in handguns and rifles and they are absolutely just as deadly as a modern cartridge gun that uses smokeless powder as a propellent. The revolvers can be fired just as rapidly as a modern revolver. It just takes much more time to get them reloaded. I cite the Civil War as an example as to how deadly cap and ball (percussion) guns can be. A Colt Walker was the most powerful handgun in the world, prior to the arrival of today's big magnums.
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Old April 18, 2012, 08:49 AM   #8
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"I for sure don't want to go to a federal prison, so I'd like to avoid that. Who do I contact to know the local laws? "

It is not the local law you need to be asking about. It is the federal statutes that pertain to post office properties. I suggest you contact the Postal Inspectors office. They are federal law enforcement officers. The government pages of the phone book should have the number for the regional office of the postal inspector that serves your area. Don't ask the person at your local post office. Each office covers thousands of square miles.
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Old April 18, 2012, 09:56 AM   #9
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Thanks for the info. I'm gonna call them and see what they say. If it would legal, I will get it in writing of some sort. If there's the slightest loophole that can screw me, I will not do it. If an antique or replica gun can be in the post office, there is a slight chance it can be loaded. Or maybe just not have a primer. I will call about it
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Old April 18, 2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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WV gunner, I just can't believe that this isn't a no brainer for you after all the well intentioned good advice you've gotten. It should be a little embarrassing to call the PO for them to have to tell you no loaded guns, or any gun antique, or not isn't allowed on gov't property. I stated before that once it's loaded and ready to go, whether, or not it's a 400 year old hand cannon, pinfire, wheelock, flintlock, percussion, it's a deadly weapon and you'll be sharing a romantic 6x8 room with the infamous Bubba, while his friends are cheering him on. I wrote on another thread that Will Rogers once said that some people learn by listening, while others have to learn by peeing on an electrical fence. Please give it up and don't even think of taking unnecessary chances. That's the smart thing. End of story, I think?
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Old April 18, 2012, 02:13 PM   #11
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Don't call them. You will just alert them to the possibility that you might break the law or regulations.
As for the felon thing. Not so. I know a felon. He is prevented from even handling anything that can propel a projectile. Bow and arrow, blow gun, antique. Anything.
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Old April 18, 2012, 04:49 PM   #12
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Well, it depends on their crime. I know a few, by relation of some sort, and they are perfectly legal to use antiques and replicas. They hunt with muzzle loaders.

But I guess I'll just be carrying my deer knife when I go to the post office for now on. It's 3 1/2 inches.
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Old April 18, 2012, 04:52 PM   #13
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That's why I park on the street,,,

One can't even have a firearm in the car in their parking lot.

Trying to split legal hairs with the feds,,,
Will only get you a felony conviction.

Aarond

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Old April 18, 2012, 05:07 PM   #14
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When I do conceal carry, leaving the gun in the truck isn't a big deal. There is no parking lot. You park on the road. It's a small town and the post office was built about 100 years ago when the town was still nice so it's a rather large building and it's on a corner. And one road basically dead ends at the floodwall.
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Old April 18, 2012, 06:52 PM   #15
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I am surprised someone has not already mentioned, United States v. Leonard Garland Green, Jr.

http://www.constitution.org/2ll/bardwell/us_v_green.txt

Quote:
knowingly possessed, received and transported in commerce and
affecting commerce, a firearm, that is, a .36 caliber New
Model Navy (6 shot) Euroarms Brescia, black powder percussion
pistol, serial no. 013069.


The charge was brought pursuant to 18 U.S.C. App. section 1202(a)
which provides that:

[a]ny person who ... has been convicted by a court of the
United States or of a State or any political subdivision
thereof of a felony ... and who receives, possesses or
transports in commerce or affecting commerce, after the date
of enactment of this Act [enacted June 19, 1968] any firearm
shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not
more than two years, or both.

.........


The Court concludes that the [ATF] Bureau's interpretation of the
statute in question is inconsistent with the plain statutory
language and with Congress's intent as expressed therein.

Consequently, while the [ATF]Bureau may have been delegated sufficient
prosecutorial discretion to permit its selective enforcement of
Title VII according to its stated policy, the Court finds that the [ATF]
Bureau's interpretation or construction of Title VII is entitled to
no deference by this Court in construing the statute. Rather, the
plain language of the statute controls. Under that language, the
weapon in question is undisputably both a "firearm" and a
"handgun." Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment was
accordingly denied.
So, while the ATF may not classify a cap and ball revolver as a weapon, the court here did. While this case deals with felon in possession of a firearm, mainly a cap and ball revolver, I do not see how being in possession of a firearm of like type on federal property would not be considered as a violation of possession of a weapon on federal property.

Also please take note of the ATF's opinion, and the view of the court.

Last edited by Fishing_Cabin; April 18, 2012 at 07:24 PM.
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Old April 18, 2012, 07:17 PM   #16
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Fishing Cabin, nice going and you nailed it. Case closed!
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Old April 18, 2012, 07:29 PM   #17
Fishing_Cabin
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deleted, covered in above.
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Old April 21, 2012, 07:52 AM   #18
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Quote:
As for the felon thing. Not so. I know a felon. He is prevented from even handling anything that can propel a projectile. Bow and arrow, blow gun, antique. Anything.
Mostly correct, and partially incorrect. I also know a felon. Bow and arrow is fine. Prohibited is any weapon that uses compressed or expanding gasses to propel a projectile.
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Old April 22, 2012, 05:42 PM   #19
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I am not an expert on this topic and not a lawyer, but federal law clearly defines "firearms" and it defines "antiques". There is no federal category of "antique firearms" A gun made before 1899 (except a full auto) is an "antique". It is NOT a "firearm" under federal law. Federal rules and prohibitions affecting firearms should not apply to antiques unless the law is being applied by people who never read the law.

State laws may vary. I suspect that many of the situations described above were under state law.

Last edited by cjwils; April 22, 2012 at 06:12 PM.
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Old April 22, 2012, 08:13 PM   #20
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How is it you suspect United States v. Green, cited above, is about state laws? Go into a court with an argument there is no 'antique firearms' classification and you will emerge in handcuffs.
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Old April 22, 2012, 08:52 PM   #21
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26 u.s.c. § 5845(g):
Quote:
for the purposes of the national firearms act, the term “antique firearms” means any firearm not intended or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar type of ignition system or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898) and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the united states and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade
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Old April 22, 2012, 09:21 PM   #22
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjwils
I am not an expert on this topic and not a lawyer,...
Yes, that's pretty clear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjwils
...It is NOT a "firearm" under federal law. Federal rules and prohibitions affecting firearms should not apply to antiques unless the law is being applied by people who never read the law...
As a lawyer, I can point out that's not necessarily true. An antique might not be considered a firearm for some purposes, and still be considered a firearm for other purposes. That sort of thing happens all the time.

And that was indeed the situation in U.S. v. Green, 515 F.Supp. 517 (D.Md. 1981). In that case ruled that an antique considered to be a firearm for the purposes of a violation of 18 USC App. 1202(a), a federal law, and affirmed a conviction under that statute.

The court specifically ruled that the broad definition of "firearm" set out in 18 USC App. 1202, under which the cap and ball revolver involved would be considered a firearm, superseded for the purposes of a violation of 18 USC App. 1202(a), the narrow definition of "antique firearm" set out at 18 USC 921(a)(3).
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Old April 22, 2012, 10:04 PM   #23
Fishing_Cabin
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Thank you Frank...

U.S. v. Green is a favorite discussion point...Many view the definition as what the ATF defines. Not so.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cjwils
I am not an expert on this topic and not a lawyer, but federal law clearly defines "firearms" and it defines "antiques". There is no federal category of "antique firearms" A gun made before 1899 (except a full auto) is an "antique". It is NOT a "firearm" under federal law. Federal rules and prohibitions affecting firearms should not apply to antiques unless the law is being applied by people who never read the law.

State laws may vary. I suspect that many of the situations described above were under state law.
It "may" be a firearm under federal and state law, depending on how you intend to use it, and how the judge understands the definitions put out in this case. Dont put much stock in pre-1899, or "replica." It comes down to intent, and what you actually "do" with it.

Last edited by Fishing_Cabin; April 23, 2012 at 11:10 AM.
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Old April 23, 2012, 07:21 PM   #24
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This started as a discussion about antique guns on post office property. Frank Ettin mentioned a section of federal law that says:
"(l) Weapons and explosives. No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes."

Someone pointed out that this particular section does not have definitions, so what this means about antiques might be vague.

However, if you go to http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_009.htm
and look near the bottom of the page, it says "Unloaded antique firearms sent as curios or museum pieces are acceptable for mailing."

Can you mail an antique firearm even though one section of the law says you cannot carry it on post office property?
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Old April 23, 2012, 07:38 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjwils
...Can you mail an antique firearm even though one section of the law says you cannot carry it on post office property?
Yes.

In one case, the antique firearm is (1) unloaded; (2) packaged and wrapped for mailing; and (3) addressed for mailing.

In the other case, the antique firearm is loaded and worn for possible use as a weapon if needed for self defense.
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Last edited by Frank Ettin; April 23, 2012 at 10:07 PM.
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