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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Search Term Q&A: Antiques Comment
    Gregory Morris, 1/5/09 7:04:26 am
    Question: "can you get in trouble for possession of a firearm if it is a antique"

    Answer: Yes, of course you can. You can get in trouble for just about anything from improper packaging of lobster tails to selling cat fur.

    You need to look at your specific situation for a good answer to that question. Here's a few things to consider:
  • Is the firearm an antique by both federal AND state laws? Some states have different rules than the "pre-1899 = antique" federal rule.
  • Do you own ammunition for the firearm? If you are a felon who wants to own an antique firearm, you may well be legally OK, but you cannot own ammunition for it. There was a recent case where a felon was acquitted for being in possession of a firearm because it couldn't be determined to be "modern", but he did get nailed for possession of ammunition.
  • How are you "using" the firearm. State laws differ, but generally the second you use an antique firearm in a crime (and "use" can be interpreted widely) the "antique" status goes away. That means if you point an unloaded blackpowder revolver at someone, and your action is prosecuted as an assault, the revolver will be treated as a modern firearm in court which usually tacks an "aggravated" on to the "assault" charge.
  • Are you an upstanding citizen who simply had a non-violent felony hiccup 30 years ago, or are you a gang-banger with a thick rap sheet? It makes a difference when the DA has to decide whether or not to prosecute you.

    As with anything that could potentially lead to criminal charges, you need to speak with a lawyer before acting. In addition, you might want to speak with your local law enforcement to see what their take on the law is. Just because you could theoretically win in court doesn't mean it will be cost-effective to push the limits of the law.

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