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Old October 22, 2013, 10:54 AM   #1
bushmaster65
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federal laws regarding max limits of powder, ammo owned /stored?

I am a BP shooter as well as CAS here in the great republic of Texas.
I've also recently begun my set-up for reloading for my CAS .357's.
With all of the components for each past time accumulating, I want to make sure I'm not going to be outside legal limits on possesion.
I have BP substitute for my pistols
smokeless powder for reloading
primers for reloading
I plan on adding some goex or swiss in the near future.
I understand that BP has a 50pnd max possesion limit?
I understand that ATF requires a certain type of magazine storage for
BP but at what quantity do you have to use a magazine?
More and more I see news reports that state the person had an "arsenal"
and ""explosives". Only to find out they had 5 guns and some pyrodex.
I don't want to end up jacked up by Johnny law you know?
I found the magazine size requirements on the ATF website but couldn't find quantity info.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
thanks in advance.
PS- I don't plan on storing anywhere NEAR 50 pnds of anything. I just want to make sure that all components combined aren't a problem. And for all you safety conscious guys, yes I store components separately and appropriately. *former Vol. firefighter*

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Old October 22, 2013, 11:36 AM   #2
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Quote:
More and more I see news reports that state the person had an "arsenal"
and ""explosives". Only to find out they had 5 guns and some pyrodex.
The phrasing used in the news is deliberate, and intended to get the maximum emotional response from people who don't know any more about the subject(s) than the reporters themselves, or their supervisors (who are, I believe the ones insisting on the improper and incorrect use of the terms).

Can't help with Fed laws, other than telling you that there are laws for different applications, transport being one, industrial storage another, etc., and, they don't always make sense. (for instance, there is a CFR that covers commercial shipment of ammo on aircraft, which covers amounts, packaging, etc, allowed for live ammo, and also completely prohibits shipment of blanks!

If you are concerned with legal storage of your powder, etc, its primarily a local matter. The laws that apply (if any) will be your local fire codes. Check those, odds are if you are in compliance there, Federal laws will also be complied with, or so I would think.
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:37 PM   #3
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Not a fedeal law but...

You can get the .pdf of NFPA 400: Hazardous Materials Code, 2013 Edition for about $58 at http://www.nfpa.org/ and search for "NFPA 400" or, if you want to create an account with them, you can get "free access" at http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standa...=code&code=400 and sign in.
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Old October 22, 2013, 04:06 PM   #4
RodTheWrench
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^^^^Um, NO.

Pay cash for powder.

Store it safely.

Don't register with ANYONE for permission to do so.

It's not illegal to own...yet and you don't need to fill out a form to get it.
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Old October 22, 2013, 06:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
^^^^Um, NO.

Pay cash for powder.

Store it safely.

Don't register with ANYONE for permission to do so.

It's not illegal to own...yet and you don't need to fill out a form to get it.
Before we pull our tin foil hats down a little too tight, maybe we should read what we're nay-saying first. He gave a link to a fire prevention website. Where, given context, one could assumedly search for those fire codes people have been suggesting.
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Old October 22, 2013, 07:40 PM   #6
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RodTheWrench
^^^^Um, NO.

Pay cash for powder.

Store it safely.

Don't register with ANYONE for permission to do so.

It's not illegal to own...yet and you don't need to fill out a form to get it.
Um, yes, maybe.

The reality is the the storage of flammable, explosive and/or otherwise hazardous substances might well be subject to regulation under local zoning or fire codes. Usually there are exemptions for small quantities (as defined in the regulations), but we have no idea what quantities the OP is talking about.
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Old October 22, 2013, 11:34 PM   #7
FrankenMauser
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The reality is the the storage of flammable, explosive and/or otherwise hazardous substances might well be subject to regulation under local zoning or fire codes.
Yep. Check with city, county, state, and any other applicable governing bodies, to see what the laws and fire code limit you to.

I have never lived in a state or county that didn't set storage limits on smokeless powder, small arms primers, small arms ammunition, black powder, and/or black powder substitutes (in all types of structures and on all types of property). Some aren't bad at all. Some are a massive inconvenience (if you want to be legal, and/or keep your insurance if there's a fire).

I have lived in a couple cities that didn't have additional limitations, but, for the most part, I have lived in cities that did have rather strict fire code regs.

In one location (under city/county/state regs), for example, it was a misdemeanor to possess more than 100 primers at a time, and a felony to possess more than 500. ("Intent to manufacture explosive devices" )
In that same city, I could possess up to 3 lbs of black powder, but no more than 1 lb of smokeless powder. [face palm]


A couple places that I have lived had city fire code regs limiting smokeless powder to 13 lbs, primers to 1,000-3,000, and ammunition to 70-100 lbs (weight, not round count - don't know how common that may be).
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Old October 23, 2013, 11:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
The reality is the the storage of flammable, explosive and/or otherwise hazardous substances might well be subject to regulation under local zoning or fire codes. Usually there are exemptions for small quantities (as defined in the regulations), but we have no idea what quantities the OP is talking about.
Absolutely.

I don't think Federal law would (or could, or should) apply to how much powder you can have or store at your home, but local and state laws certainly apply. Federal laws and regulations would apply to interstate transportation. A material consideration is that, under the national standards (not "laws") addressing such stuff, smokeless powder is classified as a propellant, while black powder is classified as an explosive. The fire code requirements (if you are in a jurisdiction that has a fire code) is very different for explosives than it is for propellants.

Whether black powder substitutes are also classified as explosives is far beyond my limited knowledge on the subject.

NFPA standards, such as referenced in a post above, would be a good starting point. However, unless your legal/political jurisdiction has adopted a particular NFPA standard (they publish hundreds of them) as enforceable law is an open question. The other problem is finding them. They are NOT available for reading on the Internet. (Among code officials, NFPA is translated as "No Free Publications Allowed.")
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Old October 23, 2013, 01:59 PM   #9
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NFPA standards, such as referenced in a post above, would be a good starting point. However, unless your legal/political jurisdiction has adopted a particular NFPA standard (they publish hundreds of them) as enforceable law is an open question. The other problem is finding them. They are NOT available for reading on the Internet. (Among code officials, NFPA is translated as "No Free Publications Allowed.")
I have never lived anywhere that didn't require all adopted standards to be available to the public for free, at least in some limited form.
For example: The last city I lived in, in Utah, required that one copy of all city ordinances and adopted code always be available for viewing in the planning office, and another copy had to be available in the library. You might have to wait for 3 hours, to get your turn at the book, but it was available.

However, every city and county I have lived in, in the last 12 years, has had all ordinances available online (9 cities and 5 counties, with even more moves ). And if the adopted code wasn't available online, there was a note, telling people where they could obtain or view a copy for free.

It's based on the "It's your responsibility to know the law, so it's our responsibility to make it available" concept.
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Old October 23, 2013, 02:14 PM   #10
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much obliged gentlemen

Thank you much for your courteous responses.
The fire district I live in is volunteer and the city hall roughly the size of a single family dwelling. (that includes the police dept, mayor etc...). The county codes are more than likely going to be the ones to adhere to.
I'll start there.
Thanks again for the help.

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Texas
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Old October 23, 2013, 03:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankenMauser
I have never lived anywhere that didn't require all adopted standards to be available to the public for free, at least in some limited form.
For example: The last city I lived in, in Utah, required that one copy of all city ordinances and adopted code always be available for viewing in the planning office, and another copy had to be available in the library. You might have to wait for 3 hours, to get your turn at the book, but it was available.
Well, sure -- but the guy who is going to have the fire codes is the fire marshal, and he's the one who's going to cite you if you have too much explosive stored in your garage or basement. So walking in and asking him to see the NFPA standards on storing explosives is probably not the best way to fly under the radar.

You could, of course, just ask to see the NFPA standards. Ten years ago, the full set took up twelve or fifteen LARGE 3-ring binders and filled two or three shelves in a standard, 42-inch wide office bookcase. I'm sure they occupy even more space now. An ordinary bloke walking in off the street wouldn't know where to begin looking, and I've never yet encountered a code official who would let a member of the general public "behind the counter" to just poke around at random through the code library.

And, short of asking the very guy you DON'T want to know you have the stuff, I don't know how you can find out which of the hundreds of NFPA standards have actually been adopted as enforceable codes in your jurisdiction.

For the record, I am licensed as a building official and I have worked in municipal code offices. If someone wants to see the code that covers ___, we'd dig out the code that addresses ___ and let them read it while standing at the counter. If they need a copy of one or two pages, we'd copy it for them. If they want the whole thing -- sorry, it's a copyrighted document, here's the address where you can contact the NFPA and buy your very own book.
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Old October 23, 2013, 03:53 PM   #12
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In our county, 25 lb. Limit on powder, none that I know of on primers. Don't know anyone near the limit.

Call the Fire Marshall, he'll know the codes.
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Old October 23, 2013, 05:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by kilimanjaro
In our county, 25 lb. Limit on powder, none that I know of on primers. Don't know anyone near the limit.
No distinction between black powder and smokeless powder?
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Old October 23, 2013, 09:38 PM   #14
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Homeland Security does have regulations on amounts of power types and proper storage so you won't be in violation of weapons of mass destruction. The laws are so spread out between different agencies that it is nearly impossible not to break some laws because they will contradict each other.
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Old October 23, 2013, 09:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony pasley
Homeland Security does have regulations on amounts of power types and proper storage so you won't be in violation of weapons of mass destruction. The laws are so spread out between different agencies that it is nearly impossible not to break some laws because they will contradict each other.
How about some citations to those regulations and some details on how they contradict each other?
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Old October 24, 2013, 12:02 AM   #16
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Well, sure -- but the guy who is going to have the fire codes is the fire marshal, and he's the one who's going to cite you if you have too much explosive stored in your garage or basement. So walking in and asking him to see the NFPA standards on storing explosives is probably not the best way to fly under the radar.
As I said in my last post - ALL ordinances and adopted code had to be available to residents (in the locations in which I have lived). The fire marshal might have been an easy contact for a quick query, but they were generally unavailable (due to the "unified" fire districts spanning many cities and even county lines - they were always out of their offices).

Why would you be worried about asking the fire marshal what you can legally store, if you're likely to be well below any potential limit (the situation the OP is in)? ...unless you have something else you're trying to hide?


And, don't label the average person as an idiot, that will have no idea what to do with a code book. This average idiot (with no prior experience) has always managed to find exactly what he needed to know, be it city ordinances, fire code, electrical code, building code, plumbing code, "subterranean improvements", or even EPA regulations for a placer claim with an active water source.
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Old October 24, 2013, 04:14 PM   #17
Aguila Blanca
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Originally Posted by FrankenMauser
Why would you be worried about asking the fire marshal what you can legally store, if you're likely to be well below any potential limit (the situation the OP is in)? ...unless you have something else you're trying to hide?
My view is that, if you have enough black powder to even be asking this question, you probably have enough that you're over the limit, and therefore you DO have something to hide.

I know a bunch of the guys in my state's State Building Inspector Office and State Fire Marshal Office. They tell me about the phone calls they receive -- I have zero doubt that the average human being cannot coherently read building and fire codes.
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Old October 24, 2013, 04:17 PM   #18
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Other possible repositories of such codes would be the city and county clerks.
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Old October 24, 2013, 05:43 PM   #19
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First google your states fire code. If your state fire code is silent on the possession of smokeless and black powder then google your county and city codes.

i googled the state of MD fire code and the fire codes of several other US states and cities. IMO: Fire codes are not difficult to read and understand.

This section of the Maryland fire code applies to the possession of smokeless and black powder:

Quote:
ยง 11-115. Same - Explosives for use in firearms; required reports.
(a) Prohibitions on possession or storage of explosives for use in
firearms.-

(1) A person may not possess at any time or store in any one place more
than 5 pounds of smokeless powder or more than 5 pounds of black powder
for use in firearms unless the person is licensed under this subtitle.

(2) A person may not engage in the business of loading or reloading small
arms ammunition unless the person is licensed to engage in business as a
dealer under this subtitle.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in this subtitle, a person may not
possess or store explosives for use in firearms in any quantity in
multifamily dwellings, apartments, dormitories, hotels, schools or other
public buildings, or buildings or structures open for public use.

(b) Prohibition on sale of explosives for use in firearms.- A dealer may
not sell, barter, give, or dispose of more than 5 pounds of black powder
or more than 5 pounds of smokeless powder for use in firearms to any one
person at any one time unless the person is licensed under this subtitle.

https://www.mdsp.org/Organization/Of...Downloads.aspx

https://www.mdsp.org/LinkClick.aspx?...d=580&mid=1439

Last edited by thallub; October 24, 2013 at 06:07 PM.
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Old October 25, 2013, 04:00 AM   #20
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If I am not mistaken, you can still order black powder dropped to your door by the 25 lb. case under federal law, with a maximum of 50 lbs. a year you can buy this way. I have ordered case lots on occasions with no problems this way and only have to provide a copy of drivers license.
Some areas add additional provisions, such as some areas of California where it cannot be transported over a bridge.
State and federal laws can cause difficulties with it I know. I was in the gun business in Ca. at one time and I had to order black powder in a minimum of 25 lbs. to get the suppliers to ship it, but could not have over 5 lbs. in the store at any one time.
Most people I knew that dealt with it there would keep the 5 lb limit in the store and the rest in their garage at home.
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Old October 27, 2013, 04:00 PM   #21
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Absent any other local codes, your amounts of smokeless powder, black powder, and primers fall under NFPA 495 Ch. 14. The NFPA codes are also known as "The National Fire Codes". If your locality does not have any other codes these are in effect. Many places adopt these with their own amendments. And just to confuse matters further, there are now the "International Fire Codes" that are adopted in whole or in part in many jurisdictions.

BP and SP ARE treated differently in the codes and for good reason. Smokeless is Ch. 14.3 and BP is Ch 14.4 and Primers are Ch. 14.5

Under the National codes you are allowed the following quantities in a residence for personal use:

Smokeless: Up to 20 lb.s if stored in original containers. Up to 50 lb.s if stored in original containers AND in a wooden box or cabinet with walls at least 1" thick.

Black Powder: Up to 20 lb.s if stored in original containers AND in a wooden box or cabinet having walls at least 1" thick.

Primers: 10,000

However, State, County, or Local ordinances may be more restrictive but can not be less restrictive. You can start by checking on line with your state Fire Marshal's office and see what the state level has. You can probably also find more info at the County website.
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Old October 27, 2013, 05:10 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by SHR970
However, State, County, or Local ordinances may be more restrictive but can not be less restrictive. You can start by checking on line with your state Fire Marshal's office and see what the state level has. You can probably also find more info at the County website.
I have to disagree.

The NFPA standards are not legally enforceable codes unless and until adopted by some legal/political jurisdiction. The NFPA is just an organization that writes codes and sells books ... they have zero enforcement authority. Not one single NFPA code or standard applies to anyone unless their political jurisdiction has formally adopted it -- and, in adopting it, any jurisdiction can choose to make any part either less or more restrictive.

In my state, fire codes are adopted and published only by the state. Municipalities and counties are NOT allowed to adopt either building or fire codes beyond what the state gives us. And our state fire code does NOT include NFPA 495. (We skip from NFPA 434 to NFPA 651.
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Old October 28, 2013, 12:28 PM   #23
SHR970
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The NFPA standards are not legally enforceable codes unless and until adopted by some legal/political jurisdiction.
Yes you covered that earlier. However, any state that adopts IFC or NFC also adopts NFPA by reference in Art.1 of either. Just like in the UBC, there is the "Other Nationally Recognized Standards" clause. As your AHJ has adopted NFPA Art. 1 you have NFPA 495 in effect due to NFPA 1.3.2.2

NFPA 1.3.2.2: Where no applicable codes, standards, or requirements are set forth in this Code or contained within other laws, codes, regulations, ordinances, or bylaws adopted by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), compliance with applicable codes and standards of NFPA or other nationally recognized standards as are approved shall be deemed as prima facie evidence of compliance with the intent of this Code.


Code enforcement can be challenging in any jurisdiction due to the cross referencing from one group of codes to other codes, standards, and national trade organizations. The NFPA set has grown to 18 books: One is a master volume / index, two others are clarifications / interpretations for some of the codes. We have the joy of Ca. Title 24 in 11 parts. Part 2 is Building Code, Part 9 is Fire Code.


Ed. to add: Frankenmauser hit it on the head when he said Check with city, county, state, and any other applicable governing bodies, to see what the laws and fire code limit you to. Each jurisdiction has its own unique twists and turns when it comes to these subjects.

Last edited by SHR970; October 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM.
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Old October 28, 2013, 02:59 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by SHR970
Yes you covered that earlier. However, any state that adopts IFC or NFC also adopts NFPA by reference in Art.1 of either. Just like in the UBC, there is the "Other Nationally Recognized Standards" clause. As your AHJ has adopted NFPA Art. 1 you have NFPA 495 in effect due to NFPA 1.3.2.2
No, this is incorrect. The International Building Code (IBC) includes an appendix of reference standards. Those are the only ones of the NFPA standards and codes that are adopted when a jurisdiction adopts the IBC, Among them are a number of NFPA standards/codes, but far from all of them. And the one covering gunpowder (NFPA 495) is NOT one of the ones listed -- therefore, it is not an enforceable standard by virtue of adopting the IBC, because the IBC doesn't reference it.

The IFC references NFPA 495 -- but not all jurisdictions adopting the IBC also adopt the IFC. My entire state does not recognize the IFC. Therefore -- there is no path to making NFPA 495 an enforceable code.

And a jurisdiction can amend the list of reference standards in the appendix at the time they adopt the IBC. My state has to, because state statutes (stupidly) specifically cite older editions of some of them, so the building code has to be amended to agree with statute.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; October 28, 2013 at 03:06 PM.
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