Frequently, individuals will inquire as to whether they can possess an antique firearm if they are prohibited from owning firearms. Under federal law, specifically the Gun Control Act, a prohibited person may possess an antique firearm, pursuant to . Federal law, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 921, defines an antique firearm as
(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.
Thus, a muzzle loading weapon that meets the definition of an “antique firearm” is not a firearm and may lawfully be received and possessed by a prohibited person under the GCA. In addition, the GCA defines the term “ammunition” to mean “ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.” Because an “antique firearm” is not a “firearm,” it would is lawful for a prohibited person to receive or possess black powder designed for use in an “antique firearm.” Also, the Federal explosives laws do not make it unlawful for a prohibited person to acquire and possess black powder in quantities not exceeding fifty pounds if it is intended to be used solely for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes in “antique firearms.” See 18 U.S.C. § 845(a)(5)
However, under Pennsylvania law, 18 PA.C.S. 6118, “Subsection (a) [stating that this subsection does not apply to antique firearms] shall not apply to the extent that such antique firearms, reproductions or replicas of firearms are concealed weapons as provided in section 6106 (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license), nor shall it apply to the provisions of section 6105 (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms) if such antique firearms, reproductions or replicas of firearms are suitable for use.” Accordingly, if you are prohibited pursuant to 18 PA.C.S. 6105, you cannot possess antique firearms, even though federal law would allow you.
If you have questions regarding whether you are prohibited or whether you can possess antique firearms, give our office a call today to schedule an appointment.