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Just When Was That Revolver Manufactured?

KETV (Omaha) reports:

U.S. attorneys had a conundrum on their hands -- they had the evidence to prove a convicted felon was in possession of a gun, but they couldn't prove the gun was a gun.

What [they] had on their hands was an American double-action revolver that was manufactured between 1880 and 1941.

The problem is that federal code states that the weapon is not a firearm unless it was manufactured after 1896....

I take it the reference is to 18 U.S.C. §§ 921-922, which ban felons from possessing firearms, but define "firearm" to exclude any "antique firearm," which is to say "any firearm ... manufactured in or before 1898." (The 1896 date appears to be an error in the news report.) So indeed the prosecutors didn't have the evidence to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of possessing a firearm manufactured after 1898, which is what the statute requires.

Fortunately for the prosecution, the felon-in-possession statute also bars felons from possessing ammunition, and the defendant was convicted of that.

Thanks to Sean Sirrine for the pointer.

Soronel Haetir (mail):
So the strict serial number requirement came along after 1898? I know to the month when the m1911 I inherited from my great grandfather was manufactured. And that was long before the NFA came along.
11.18.2008 6:42pm
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
Don't guns that old use black powder? Was that the distinction Congress was aiming at? Of course if so, that was not the way the law was wriitten.

The people who wrote the law probably were thinking in most cases it woud be obvious, and in case of doubt that the defendant would have to prove old age. And maybe things mght have worked taht way long ago. When was this law passed?
11.18.2008 6:55pm
Anon21:
The people who wrote the law probably were thinking in most cases it woud be obvious, and in case of doubt that the defendant would have to prove old age. And maybe things mght have worked taht way long ago.

I can't think of any period in American history where the burden of proof for an essential element of a criminal offense rested anywhere other than with the state.
11.18.2008 7:21pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
The story said:

Without a definitive production date, the gun was inadmissible as evidence.

I think that's not correct? The gun was admissible, it just wasn't evidence of what they wanted it to be evidence of.
11.18.2008 7:29pm
PhanTom:
ChrisIowa,

I suspect there may be a 402 or 403 problem with admitting a firearm that, on its face, is not probative of the question of whether it was produced before the statutory period.

--PtM
11.18.2008 7:33pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
Wow! Watch the market for older weapons jump now.
11.18.2008 7:40pm
Jonathan F.:
I happened to watch part of a felon-in-possession trial once where the firearm at issue had been manufactured in the very late 19th century. The BATF has experts who are very good at pinning these things down. The testimony I watched dealt with improvements in the gun design reflected in patents issued in particular years and with whether the gun bore certain hallmarks of having been made after an 1898 fire at the manufacturer's main plant. This expert really knew his history.
11.18.2008 7:41pm
Dave N (mail):
Phan Tom,

It would seem to me that the firearm, regardless of its age, would be relevant evidence to show why the defendant was carrying around ammunition. Motive is always relevant.
11.18.2008 7:41pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
How come nobody has started a gun company in each state that manufactures guns and ammos in, and made ENTIRELY from materials purchased within that state. That way the gun and ammunition could never be found to be possessed "in interstate commerce" and felons could possess them all they want. Or at least, I'd like to think so.

Right now, they say interstate manufacture of handguns is what makes their possession to be "possession in or affecting interstate commerce." However, would possession of a firearm made wholly of intrastate materials and labor be possession in/affecting interstate commerce anyway? Cases like Wickard v. Filburn and Riach v. Gonzales would certainly be used to say intrastate commerce is also interstate commerce.

Of course I hate cases like these that extend the commerce clause to allow unlimited government action, felon gun possession should be a state crime, not a federal one. And it is. So why do we need to waste federal taxpayer dollars prosecuting it?
11.18.2008 8:04pm
Oren:
Bruce, it is, as a matter of facts on the ground, impossible to create a gun company that operates solely inside the economy of a particular state (casting aside for the time being whether Wickard or Raich could reach around this distinction). Off the top of my head, I can't even think of a state where you could get both steel for the barrel and copper for the firing pin (since those two metals tend to be found in disparate geological areas).
11.18.2008 8:10pm
Guest101:
"It would seem to me that the firearm, regardless of its age, would be relevant evidence to show why the defendant was carrying around ammunition. Motive is always relevant."

That definitely sounds more prejudical than probative if he's also charged with firearm possession.
11.18.2008 8:14pm
miked0268 (mail):
Hmm. Weird statute. Revolvers manufactured all the way back in the 1830's are, from a functional standpoint, almost fully equivalent to modern handguns. Alot more difficult to reload, but just as dangerous - provided they're in good enough condition to actually fire.

At close range, those old black powder weapons were probably even a little bit more lethal than typical modern firearms. Low muzzle velocity but enormous heavy projectiles. Wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of one, that's for sure.
11.18.2008 8:33pm
M B S:

Don't guns that old use black powder?


Not necessarily. To quote Colt's company history:


In 1872, Colt began the manufacture of its first breech-loaded revolver using self-contained metallic cartridges. That was the world-famous Single Action Army Model 1873 [a.k.a. the Peacemaker] designed to use metallic ammunition that contained its own primer.


At the time this caliber (.45 Colt) was first introduced, the cartridges would have technically been loaded with black powder (as opposed to smokeless powder), but I assume that's not the distinction you're going for.
11.18.2008 8:38pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Bruce,

Given a resteraunt discrimination charge I saw where the owner lost on the basis that the food he served had travelled in interstate commerce, I imagine to even make that argument you would have to show you had started with nothing more than an in-state stick. Any tools brought in for the manufacturering would hang you. Probably even tools for making other tools, right down to the knife used to cut the leather to make the bellows. Probably the tools used to kill the cow in the first place, unless you want to wait around for a cow to die on its own.
11.18.2008 9:03pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Don't guns that old use black powder? Was that the distinction Congress was aiming at? Of course if so, that was not the way the law was written.


Smokeless powders date back to the invention of guncotton in 1846, with effective gunpowders being available by the early 1880s, and metal cartridge firearms date back to 1867.

It honestly seems like the year was pulled out of a hat, and it's even different from the year Canada uses.
11.18.2008 9:05pm
limaxray:
This type of thing happening isn't that big of surprise to me - it happens all the time in states like NY that have adopted their own version of the now-defunct federal AWB.

When the federal ban was in place, all prohibited items (ie high capacity magazines) manufactured or imported after the ban went into effect had to be marked with something along the lines of 'LE Only.' This was the primary method used to prove that such an item was prohibited and not allowed under the grandfather clause.

Now that the federal ban has expired, manufacturers no longer mark their once banned products. This makes it incredibly difficult for these states to prosecute for possession of items that have hardly changed since before the ban. For example, there is practically no way to distinguish between an illegal 30 round AR-15 magazine manufactured yesterday and a legal one manufactured in the 80's. The result is gun shows littered with cheap 'grandfathered' magazines that are in surprisingly immaculate condition.
11.18.2008 9:06pm
Katl L (mail):
Yoy are a collectionist and you have arms from the Revolution, the 1812 war, the mexicans wars , the Civil War and the spanish war. are you guilty of gun possesion?
No , because you are an antiquities collector and nothing else. even if you have an arsenal in your house. that must be the ratio legis.
11.18.2008 9:07pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Kind of makes you wonder if an unscrupulous guy could start a "Felon's only" section at the next gun show filled with 1861 Single Action Navy Revolvers, Trapdoor Springfields, and Krag Jorgensons.
11.18.2008 9:08pm
Peter J Moriarity (mail):
I think that's not correct? The gun was admissible, it just wasn't evidence of what they wanted it to be evidence of.

Chris. You obviously never watched Perry Mason. Incompetent, irrelevant &immaterial.
11.18.2008 9:23pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
Yeah that's what I'm saying, the gun is made ENTIRELY from in-state materials with in-state labor.

Though i suppose that begs the question where we the tools/labor to produce those materials made. If a gun is made in state Y from iron ore extracted entirely from state Y, but the iron ore is extracted with a Caterpillar shovel made in New York, does that mean there is interstate commerce? How attenuated is it? According to the federal government, which wants as much power and the broadest laws possible, there would never be an end. If one factory worker was chewing on a toothpick made out of state, that would make the end product interstate commerce. Does anyone seriously believe that was the intent of the Framers when they drafted the Commerce Clause?
11.18.2008 9:26pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
Well, I'm gonna go incorporate the American Intrastate Firearm Company, and get to work on guns all felons can be proud to legally possess...
11.18.2008 9:27pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Bruce M,

I doubt you would find many folks at the VC who agree with modern intrepretation of the commerce clause. Just how far to go back would likely generate more debate. Personally I would love to see the CC read so that commerce covered only the actual transactions of moving goods from one state to another or providing services from one state to a resident of another. Not going to happen, I know.
11.18.2008 9:57pm
another anonVCfan:
Bruce, it is, as a matter of facts on the ground, impossible to create a gun company that operates solely inside the economy of a particular state (casting aside for the time being whether Wickard or Raich could reach around this distinction).

When I first read Leonard Read's "I, Pencil," I thought "Wow, all of that work, happening spontaneously, so that I can buy a pencil for a few pennies."

I can't help but think that somewhere, some proponent of the expansive Commerce Clause is reading that essay for the first time and thinking, "Wow, this means that I can even regulate pencils."
11.18.2008 10:04pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1898 was picked because, in 1968, folks figured "it's before the 1898 Mauser came along," and a major purpose of GCA 68 was to block imports of surplus guns.
11.18.2008 10:21pm
zippypinhead:
Why 1898? Because the definition of "antique" firearm and the Federal civilian serial number requirement both went into effect with the 1968 GCA. 70 years was a nice, round number for the drafters of the legislation, especially given the quantum leaps in firearms technology that occurred right around the turn of the 20th century (e.g., semi-automatic feed systems, spitzer bullets, the broad adoption of smokeless powder cartridges, etc.).

Most civilian firearms from reputable manufacturers had serial numbers long before GCA and so the issue of missing serial numbers to date a firearm often doesn't come up -- most can be dated to a given month with little trouble. And U.S. military small arms were all serialized before 1898, I believe. By 1968, the lack of serial numbers was mostly a problem with tracing of cheapo "Saturday Night Specials" and oddities like zip guns.

Although I'd be shocked if, even without a serial number, BATFE or private firearms experts couldn't date a Colt .45 Peacemaker fairly closely, based on the series of minor production changes the model went through over time, tool mark changes as machinery was upgraded, and metallurgy changes from heat-treating improvements, etc. Might take some huddling with a firearms museum curator or the Colt's historian, and in a worst case some invasive or destructive testing, but it's almost certainly doable.

Then again, if I'm the AUSA prosecuting this case, I certainly wouldn't bother with putting on extra expert testimony, risking Daubert issues or unpleasant surprises on cross of my expert, etc., when I can just prosecute the crook for the ammunition charge -- another "gimmie" count that's a whole lot simpler to prep and prove. And the sentence is the same. The "KISS" principle applies in litigation, too...
11.18.2008 10:26pm
Guest12345:
Oren:
Off the top of my head, I can't even think of a state where you could get both steel for the barrel and copper for the firing pin (since those two metals tend to be found in disparate geological areas).


Try Utah. The Kennecott Copper Mine produces both iron and copper.
11.18.2008 10:27pm
Le Messureir (mail):
Oren said:

Off the top of my head, I can't even think of a state where you could get both steel for the barrel and copper for the firing pin (since those two metals tend to be found in disparate geological areas).


Michigan
11.18.2008 10:27pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
The serial number requirement for handguns came in with the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, I think, and for rifles and shotguns with the Gun Control Act of 1968. In practice, most manufacturers added serial numbers long before that, just so they could keep track of their guns. I know Colts were being numbered by the 1870s, as were government issue rifles.
11.18.2008 10:31pm
zippypinhead:
1898 was picked because, in 1968, folks figured "it's before the 1898 Mauser came along,"
Dave, I always hesitate to quibble with a known expert, but the Mauser C96 broomhandle semi-automatic was first produced circa 1896, correct? But leaving that aside, you're basically right -- the distinctive Broomhandle is the only semi-automatic I'm aware of that crosses the GCA "antique" definition threshold. The Colt M1900 and 1903, the Luger P08 (production started circa 1900), and other early semi-autos all postdated the GCA "antique" definition.
11.18.2008 10:33pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Manufactured between "1880 and 1941." Got to be a major manufacturer, Colt or Remington, something like that (Colt Single Action was made from 1873 to 1941). They keep serial numbers. I have a Colt shotgun from the 1870s, and got a factory letter stating when it shipped and to whom it was sent.
11.18.2008 10:40pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
Soronel Haetir I share your views on commerce clause interpretation. In fact I'd go even further (perhaps) to say that regulation, i.e. "to make regular" does not include prohibitation. Regulating commerce does not include the power to ban or otherwise limit into nonexistence specific commerce, such as certain drugs and weapons. Everyone used to agree with this proposition, as it was never seriously contended that the federal gov't had the authority to prohibit the sale and manufacture (let alone mere possession) of alcohol without a constitutional amendment giving it the express power to do so. But somehow we've devolved to the point where practically everyone takes it as a given that the commerce clause gives the federal gov't the authority to ban the mere possession of certain leaves. Truly amazing.
11.18.2008 10:51pm
BlackX (mail):
What I don't get is why felons should be barred from protecting themselves. Self-defense is THE basic human right. If they're so violent they can't be trusted with guns, they shouldn't be let out. (Yes, I'm simplifying but....)
11.18.2008 11:45pm
Another pinhead (mail):
Some smokeless propellant arms made before 1898 (from approximately 1886-1898) are essentially equivalent to many modern firearms, but they are not firearms by federal and most state laws and are not subject to firearm regulations. Pre 1899 NFA antiques can also be found in modern smokeless powder calibers and they can be rebarreled to modern cartridges because the date of the receiver manufacture is what determines antique status and what happens to it later. Buy them up because they are not firearms.

BTW copper is never used to make firing pins because it is too soft. It is used as jackets for projectiles.
11.19.2008 12:21am
whit:
just remember, many states (mine included) don't have the date restrictions. so, despite all these proposed "solutions" to getting a gun for a felon, they'd still be screwed under state laws.

my state defines a firearm for the purpose of it's VUFA (felon in possession) statute as
**
"Firearm" means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder
**

i once charged a convicted felon with possession of a flare gun. under the RCW definition, that is a firearm.

he thought he was being smart by carrying a flare gun. um, no.

contrarily, a gun can be as powerful as hell, and if it does not use an explosive, it's a-ok.

a very industrious kid got the police called on him by his neighbor. he had manufactured a sweet cannon of sorts that used compressed air to shoot projectiles. the neighbor was all bent because she lived in a "no shoot" area. no shoot area only restricts recreational use of FIREARMS. it wasn't a firearm. despite the fact that it could kill just as easily.

again, every state i am aware of has a felon in possession law. so, whatever 1800's weapon a felon chooses to carry, he's gonna get charged under state law and/or federally for the ammunition
11.19.2008 12:32am
zippypinhead:
Pre 1899 NFA antiques can also be found in modern smokeless powder calibers and they can be rebarreled to modern cartridges because the date of the receiver manufacture is what determines antique status and what happens to it later. Buy them up because they are not firearms.
Nice try, but baaaaad legal advice. Your Colt .45 with an 189x receiver might be an "antique" that can fire ammunition you can buy at any Wal-Mart, but if you happen to actually have any ammo for it in your possession, you can be prosecuted as a felon-in-possession under 18 U.S.C. §922(g) just as fully as if you'd been caught with a brand new Glock. Possessing either the firearm or ammunition is equally prohibited by the same statute.

If you are a prohibited person but MUST carry, you're at least marginally better off with a black powder muzzleloader. For what that's worth... kinda tough to double-tap your intended target with one, but maybe you'll be lucky enough to stop what you aimed at on your first and only shot. Of course, if you manage to avoid actually killing your target, then perhaps you'll only be on the hook for assault with a deadly weapon ("weapon" is defined more broadly than just "firearm" in every criminal code I've heard of).
11.19.2008 1:08am
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
I suppose it would be much easier to start up 51 companies (one in each state and DC) to make intra-state ammunition than to make intra-state firearms. But what's the point of having ammo if you can't have the gun to shoot it with?

What I don't get is why felons should be barred from protecting themselves.

Because felons are not allowed to vote (also a premise worth questioning) and thus don't get their voices heard against the politicans trying to be "tough on crime" ... when you're not allowed to vote, all your basic human rights are up for grabs. Especially if it will make some chicken-citizen feel safe. "Felons shouldn't have guns" sounds reasonable to most non-thinking people who are made to be scared of all felons. Anything that will give these chickens the illusion of safety is automatically acceptable and unquestionable public policy.

Pretty amazing when you think about it.
11.19.2008 1:27am
Kirk:
whit,
no shoot area only restricts recreational use of FIREARMS.
Depends on where you are. The Municipal Code for Tacoma specifically bans the firing of air rifles, and I'm pretty sure Lakewood does the same.
11.19.2008 2:05am
SecurityGeek:
Oh my, this blog has gotten so much better since the election ended.

For a non-lawyer, what case expanded the Commerce Clause most relevantly to intrastate gun ownership?
11.19.2008 3:20am
Steve in CT:
I'm not a lawyer, but it has been suggested that Wickard v. Filburn was the end of the old limited commerce clause &the beginning of the 'means whatever you want' phase. The basic premise of the case is that a farmer who grew wheat for his own use still affected interstate commerce:


...that a factor of such volume and variability as home-consumed wheat would have a substantial influence on price and market conditions. ..... Home-grown wheat in this sense competes with wheat in commerce. The stimulation of commerce is a use of the regulatory function quite as definitely as prohibitions or restrictions thereon. This record leaves us in no doubt that Congress may properly have considered that wheat consumed on the farm where grown, if wholly outside the scheme of regulation, would have a substantial effect in defeating and obstructing its purpose to stimulate trade therein at increased prices.
11.19.2008 3:43am
faroplayer:
Rather than thinking about felon-in-possession laws, what about using pre-1898 firearms for concealed carry? Or carry inside of schools, courts, etc? Is there a reason that this would not work in states that have the same pre-1898 rule as the federal government?
11.19.2008 4:52am
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
Steve in CT: I am a lawyer, and Wickard v. Filburn was indeed the end of not only limited power under the commerce clause, but also the end of limited power of Congress. The commerce clause could, from that point on, be used to justify any federal law (I mentioned Wickard above in my 8:04pm post).

I believe Wickard is the single most lawlessly reasoned case ever decided by the Supreme Court. Our government is supposed to be one of express, enumerated powers. To turn one of those powers into a universal grant of power is completely contrary to the intent of the Framers, and has been the downfall of our country.
11.19.2008 5:32am
Another pinhead (mail):

zippypinhead: Nice try, but baaaaad legal advice.


So who takes legal advice from a pinhead? I was giving investment advice. Smokless powder GCA antique rifles command about a 50% premium over contemporary non antique firearms.
11.19.2008 8:30am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
The Colt M1900 and 1903, the Luger P08 (production started circa 1900), and other early semi-autos all postdated the GCA "antique" definition.


I thought Remington had a few semiautomatics that crossed the line, up to the point where the serial number is the only difference between a semiautomatic antique and a semiautomatic modern firearm. I know that there are some.
11.19.2008 8:38am
Happyshooter:
The BATF has experts who are very good at pinning these things down.

The BATF is also known to slant their testimony and to work on firearms on their possession to render them non-legal.

There is a videotape floating around that is training for agents and examiner experts on how to commit perjury.
11.19.2008 8:52am
Harry O (mail):
The serial number requirement came about with the 1968 GCA. I have two different smokeless powder guns that legally have no serial number. One of them (a Stevens 311 SxS shotgun) has a manufacturers mark on it (NOT a serial number) indicating that it was made in 1958, but the other one has no marks of any kind that indicate exactly when it was made. I could have been made as early 1908 or as late as 1941. It does make it hard to fill out 4473 forms, though.
11.19.2008 9:31am
The Great Demagogue (mail):
If congress ever bans firearms--even though its un constitutional--this may be the way we can legally keep guns
11.19.2008 10:26am
Knot (mail):
Copper for firing pin?
Oren:
Your statement about bringing all the
resources together is good, but you
might want to review your metallurgy and
materials science. Did you mean copper for
the brass cartridge cases?

Most modern firearms have pretty hard firing pins, with titanium becoming popular for reduced lock times in
match high power rifles.

11.19.2008 10:42am
Jonathan F.:
There is a videotape floating around that is training for agents and examiner experts on how to commit perjury.

Well, that was thirteen years ago, and it wasn't a "training tape" on how to commit perjury, it was a presentation in which the speaker stated that ATF witnesses would testify that the National Firearms Act database (in which certain firearms must be registered to be legally possessed) "is 100 percent accurate. That's what we testify to, and we will always testify to that. As you probably well know, that may not be 100 percent true."

I doubt the expert in the case I mentioned was making it up, unless he had forged the patents and record books he was relying on.
11.19.2008 10:49am
Philistine (mail):

If you are a prohibited person but MUST carry, you're at least marginally better off with a black powder muzzleloader.


Or really, a cap and ball replica pistol.

Would bullets and powder (and percussion caps) constitute "ammunition" given the definition in 921(a)(17)(a): "The term “ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellent powder designed for use in any firearm."

I find the use of "firearm" in the self-referential definition of "antique firearm" to be confusing in the context of ammunition-- i.e. an "antique firearm" is not a "firearm" under 921(a)(3), but it is defined as "any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898"
11.19.2008 11:08am
Deep Lurker (mail):
I once supported "felon in possession" laws, but the more I think about them, the more they stink. I am not a lawyer, but shouldn't it raise federalism issues to impose a Federal ban on those convicted of State felonies? Not to mention the whole pile of Constitutional questions bypassed by piously proclaiming that the ban on felons possessing guns is "not a punishment."

Just imagine the "fun" made possible by simply passing laws stripping ex-cons of the other protections of the Bill of Rights. Previous felony conviction? Say good-by to the exclusionary rule - police can search you at any time for any reason (or no reason) since you've forfeited your 4th Amendment rights along with your 2nd. And you can be forced to confess - your 5th Amendment rights have vanished down that same hole. Or you can just be held in jail: No 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial, so your trial date has been postponed to January 12, 2287. And once you are convicted of a second felony, no punishment is too severe - no more 8th Amendment protection against cruel &unusual punishments, either.

Or if one wanted to be more subtle about it just require convicted felons to join a church and attend services each week - it's not a further punishment, just good policy for reform and reconciliation, once we've dumped that silly 1st Amendment thing for convicted felons.

And the right to vote - oh, the 14th Amendment does explicitly allow denying the vote to felons, unlike the emanations from the penumbra of the 2nd used to deny guns to felons. But even there, would a Federal ban on voting by those convicted of felonies in State courts pass muster?
11.19.2008 11:17am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
The ability to search felons at any time would be easier to accomplish through parole/probation requirements, just make the term of probation lifetime. Takes care of lots of other pesky issues as well.
11.19.2008 11:20am
thatguy (mail):
Interesting, I am a collector, and know the date of manufacture of mine (1911A1 - May 1944, M1 Garand April 1943, M1 Carbine Nov 1943) All of which were purchased, mail-order, interstate, using only my C&R.
also, and just bragging now, the 1911A1 and garand are absolute works of art :)

limaxray:

My sidearm is an H&K UPS .45, which I bought not long after the AWB expired, my 12-round mags are both stamped "Law Enforcement / Military Use Only" I'm assuming they were built during the AWB, and were transferred to the civvie market after, and I bought them new with the pistol.
11.19.2008 11:57am
Bill Twist:
I've never seen copper used as a firing pin, and I've examined a *LOT* of firearms in my day.

Firing pins are generally steel, although as has been mentioned sometimes they are titanium for improved lock times in target guns. Titanium is lighter than steel, so for a given amount of pressure applied by a firing pin spring, a titanium firing pin will accelerate faster, and thus ignite the primer faster, than a comparable steel firing pin.

Copper is too soft to be useful as a firing pin. Brass has been used for the receivers and frames of lower-powered guns, but it generally isn't done anymore because they 'shoot loose' after a while.
11.19.2008 12:12pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I once supported "felon in possession" laws, but the more I think about them, the more they stink.
I like the idea of these laws, but they seem to have no originalist justification. The earliest felon in possession law appears to be California's 1923 statute (passed as part of a package openly stated to be for disarming Chinese and Hispanics). For the first several decades after the Revolution, the old "civil death" view of felony conviction seems to have gone away.
11.19.2008 12:13pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
You like the idea (really just the sound) of the laws because "felons shouldn't have guns" sounds like a sort of superficial truism that would help you sleep better at night. But even if all felonies were crimes of violence, and they're certainly not, why should citizens who have served their time, paid their debt to society, not be allowed to possess a gun for self defense? Or hunting? Even if we're only talking about criminals convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, once they serve their time and are allowed back into society, their need for, and right to self-defense is just as legitimate as anyone else's.

Like I said before, this intellectual bankruptcy is only made possible because felons are disenfranchised, and when people can't vote, politicians don't care about their rights.
11.19.2008 12:54pm
whit:

Depends on where you are. The Municipal Code for Tacoma specifically bans the firing of air rifles, and I'm pretty sure Lakewood does the same.



correct. varies by jurisdiction of course.
11.19.2008 1:45pm
Blake123 (mail):
Jonathan F said: "The BATF has experts who are very good at pinning these things down."

They also have experts who are very good at making stuff up.
11.19.2008 2:28pm
Happyshooter:
Well, that was thirteen years ago, and it wasn't a "training tape" on how to commit perjury, it was a presentation in which the speaker stated that ATF witnesses

Special Agent, I am sorry if though my mistake it looks like I was questioning your actions.

I agree with and support anything any member of the agency has ever thought, spoken, written, or done.
11.19.2008 2:36pm
Mr. Wizard:
This is not that unusual a dilemma.

In 1994, Janice LaCava took out two protection orders against her abusive husband, Thomas. Since this was in the Gun Control Kingdom of Massachusetts, they immediately pulled his guns, as well as his license to own(!) and purchase(!) guns. Problem solved, right?

Shortly afterward, he shot her to death in the parking lot of her apartment complex with a black pistol revolver, for which no licenses were necessary to purchase or own.
11.19.2008 2:45pm
FWB (mail):
And the exponential expansion of felony laws may be another of the conspiratorial actions of the government to reduce the number of persons who may be invovled in government. As we make more and more people felons and reomve the power of the vote, we concentrate the power in the hands of the few. At some point maybe only a currently elected body will be left who can vote for themselves and save the rest of us the trouble of having to make decisions.

BTW, there is no "interstate" commerce clause in the Constitution. Marshall was an idiot who didn't understand the Enlgish language. The term "among" in commerce "among the States was aused instead of "between", Marshall's distinction, because your cannot have commerce between more than two and the Framers who talking about 13 or more. So the term among was the grammatically correct term and was no more expansive or inclusive of distances into each state than the term "between". Anyone who breaks free of the inculcations of his/her education concerning the Constitution soon learns the judicial branch made crap up but then that's because the judges have the special Constitutions with all extra space where ONLY they can read "between" the lines.

If one understands creator/created or superior/subordinate, one will be able to understand that neither the legislative branch, nor the executive branch, nor the judicial branch hold any authority to determine even the meaning of "is" in the Constitution. The subordinate is never in a position to define the extent of the superior.


Dominus providebit!
11.19.2008 2:58pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
AFAIK, only two states provide lifetime disenfranchisement of felons after they have been released from prison. Not that this is a particularly active group politically, or one with a lot of clout - but the the idea that once you have been convicted of a felony you can't vote is simply not true; the vast majority of felons are not denied the right to vote once they've left prison.
11.19.2008 3:09pm
Jonathan F.:
Special Agent, I am sorry if though my mistake it looks like I was questioning your actions.

What a strange comment. I'm not an ATF (or any other kind of) agent.
11.19.2008 3:24pm
whit:

In 1994, Janice LaCava took out two protection orders against her abusive husband, Thomas. Since this was in the Gun Control Kingdom of Massachusetts, they immediately pulled his guns, as well as his license to own(!) and purchase(!) guns. Problem solved, right?


but she probably couldn't get a license to carry, in that "may issue" state.

where whether one gets a license to carry is entirely based on whether the police chief feels like giving you one.
11.19.2008 4:35pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

But even if all felonies were crimes of violence, and they're certainly not, why should citizens who have served their time, paid their debt to society, not be allowed to possess a gun for self defense? Or hunting? Even if we're only talking about criminals convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, once they serve their time and are allowed back into society, their need for, and right to self-defense is just as legitimate as anyone else's.
I agree with you that many felonies, not being violent (turning back a car odometer, for example is a federal felony), should not be disabling. The argument for why violent felonies should be disarmed for life is that they are likely to commit violent crimes again. I am not arguing that this is a sufficient grounds for doing so; some might argue that if someone is that much of a threat to others, they shouldn't be released at all.

To me, the originalist argument is sufficient to call into question felon in possession laws, once a felon is done with probation or other forms of conditional release.
11.20.2008 11:56am