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A Brief Overview of the Implications of HR 1112 for Re-enactors of the American Civil War and other 18th- and 19th-Century American Wars

House Resolution 1112, also known as the "Antique Firearm Safety Act", was introduced to the U.S. Congress on March 20, 2001 by the following representatives:

Mr. HOEFFEL, Mr. CONYERS, Mrs. MALONEY of New York, Mr. FATTAH, Mr. MARKEY, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. FRANK, Mr. BECERRA, Mr. BORSKI, Mr. BRADY of Pennsylvania, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. NADLER, Mr. JACKSON of Illinois, Mr. ENGEL, Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD, Mrs. MINK of Hawaii, and Mr. WEXLER)

The bill was then referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it still sits as of this writing (April 3, 2001).

This bill is very brief. It would change Sections 921 and 922 Title 18, Chapter 44 of the United States Code in exactly two places so that antique firearms (including replicas of antique firearms such as the ones we use) would be subject to the same laws restricting sale, manufacture, ammunition, possession, etc., as modern firearms. Currently antique firearms are mostly exempt from the restrictions of Chapter 44.

Below is my interpretation of the changes in store for us as re-enactors if this bill is made law. Please note that I am not an attorney -- I am a reasonably intelligent layperson trying to make my way through the legislative jargon of the U.S. Code to see what this short bill actually does.

Changes for reenactors if HR 1112 becomes law

Note: the word "musket" as used herein generally includes any firearm, antique or otherwise. Also, the word "ammunition" is poorly defined in Chapter 44, U.S. Code so that it is unclear to me whether blank (or live, for that matter) cartridges and the like would be considered ammunition for the purposes of Chapter 44. I assume that they would be, but that is an assumption.

It would be unlawful to:

  • transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver your musket or ammunition to someone who does not reside in your state or otherwise engage in interstate or foreign commerce with your musket or ammunition (licensed dealers, importers, and manufacturers excepted);
  • ship or transport a musket interstate to anyone other than a licensed dealer, importer, manufacturer, or collector (except for the same to return a musket to the person who shipped it -- e.g. a dealer shipping a musket back to an individual after repairing it);
  • transport or ship a musket acquired outside of your home state back to your home state (licensed dealers, importers, collectors, and manufacturers excepted);
  • transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver your musket to anyone that you know or have reasonable cause to believe to not live in your state;

Additionally, it would be unlawful for a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector to sell or deliver:

  • a musket to anyone they believe to be under the age of eighteen;
  • ammunition for any firearm OTHER than a rifle or shotgun to anyone they believe to be under the age of twenty-one.
    Note: It is my opinion that antique firearms are excluded from the Title 18, Section 921 definition of "rifle" or "shotgun", but that is only my opinion. The reality is somewhat unclear.

Furthermore:

  • Licensed importers, manufacturers, dealers, and collectors would be required to keep a record (pursuant to Section 923 of Title 18) of all firearms sales;
  • Mail-order purchases of muskets would have to be preceded by a signed, sworn statement in a prescribed form that the buyer can legally purchase the musket, and a copy of the statement would be required to be forwarded to the chief of police or county sheriff in the buyer's town via registered or certified mail, with the shipment of the musket to be delayed until at least seven days following the seller receiving a delivery receipt of the copy of the sworn buyer's statement from the local law enforcement official, and the seller would be required to retain documentation of all of the above paperwork in accordance with section 923;
  • Anyone wishing to sell or otherwise dispose of a musket or ammunition would need to run a background check on the buyer to make sure that they weren't:
    • under indictment for, or convicted of, a crime punishable by a jail sentence of one year or more;
    • a fugitive;
    • an unlawful user of or an addict of any controlled substance;
    • adjudicated of being a mental defective or a committee of a mental institution;
    • an illegal alien;
    • dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces;
    • a U.S. citizen who had renounced their citizenship;
    • subject to a restraining order to prevent violence against an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner; or,
      Note: there are some additional qualifiers regarding this, as well...
    • convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.
  • Anyone who meets the laundry list in the above paragraph (or who knowingly is in the employ of such a person) would also be prohibited from possessing a musket or ammunition.
  • It would be illegal for you to be in possession of or to ship or transport out of state a musket which has had the manufacturer's serial number altered or removed (i.e. defarbed) and has been, at any time, been shipped or transported out of state Note: considering that most muskets used by reenactors are made overseas, this would apply to us.
  • Licensed dealers, importers, and manufacturers would be required to conduct an "instant criminal background check" before transferring a musket to any individual who is not themselves licensed.

There may be other restrictions that I have overlooked, but I think that's the bulk of it.

If you want to read more about the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and enter "HR 1112" under the bill number.

If you want to see the text of Chapter 44 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, go to http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/ch44.html#PC44

Article copyright (c) 2001 by Michael Heggen. All rights reserved.

Permission is hereby granted to reprint or re-publish this article in its entirety so long as credit is give to the author (Michael Heggen). This article may be edited for spelling, grammar, and formatting, so long as the meaning and overall content remain unchanged. The author <michael@heggen.net> would also appreciate a courtesy copy of any printed publications that this is reprinted in or an e-mail with the URL of any website publication.

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