More on "antique" firearms and Federal law

In my rpevious post, I posited that an M39 Mosin "built" in 1944 but was built from an 1895 manufactured receiver was technically an antique under Federal law and not subject to normal restrictions.

This assumption is based off of the definition in 18 USC 921 (a) (16):


(16) The term “antique firearm” means— (A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or (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 no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade; or (C) any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “antique firearm” shall not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof.
Now, one might look at the first "A" and conclude "It says ANY firearm" but then the drafters of the law seem to "sort of" imply they mean flintlocks and matchlocks.  But if that were the case, then why doesn't it read "Any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, etc manufactured in or before 1898".   I have personally seemn websites which sell M39 Finnish Mosin-Nagant rifles that had two sections; one that required FFL or C&R licenses to receive the weapon, and the "Antiques" which they would simply mail to you direct.  to my knowledge, this was never contested by the ATF.

The other reason I think they can't have meant *only* black poweder weapons that required an external flint?  They would be excluding rifles such as the Marlin-Ballard model 1861 (built in 1873) that belonged to my great-grandfather and was chambered in .45-70 Government.  .45-70, built WELL before 1898, and used fixed ammunition as was common for the time.  So the "pre 1899" rule doesn't make sense if we're talking only flintlocks/matchlocks like the older Civil War-era muzzleloaders.

Of course, under the National Firearms Act (Interestingly, it's under the Internal Revenue section of the US Code) we have 26 U.S.C. § 5845(G) which states:

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.

So this seems to at least partially contradict the previous section, and curiously seems to indicate that a centerfire rifle would be considered an antique IF the ammo was "not readily available".   That sounds like a phrase ripe for abuse by officials.   Also, the M39 rifle or that model 1861 Marlin-Ballard would normally not be considered "NFA" items since they are rifles with barrels clearly in excess of 16 inches in length.

Which applies?  Which is right?   Can we ever be 100% sure?   Maybe we should redefine or better yet repeal this nonsense since all it does is serve to make unwitting collectors and shooters into unwitting felons.

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