What is a “Firearm” Under Federal Law?
Under section 18 U.S.C. 922, people convicted of some misdemeanor offenses, including domestic violence charges, and people who are subject to a Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, may be prohibited from possessing a “firearm.” The term “firearm” is defined at 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3) as:
Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;
- The frame or receiver of any such weapon.
- Any firearm muffler or firearm silencer.
- Any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.
Antique Firearm Exception
The term “firearm” is very broad and includes almost everything that a person could shoot. For hunters or people that want to carry a gun for subject to the Federal firearm possession prohibition, they would not be permitted to use a normal rifle, shotgun, or pistol as those items clearly fall under the definition of “firearm.” However, they most likely would be able to use an “antique firearm,” which would allow them to use most conventional muzzleloaders. An “antique firearm” includes:
- any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or
- any replica of a firearm manufactured in or before 1898 IF such replica is not designed for using rimfire or centerfire fixed ammo
- 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
Pardon to Restore Gun Rights
In order to restore a person’s constitutional right to possess a firearm, the person may be able to seek a pardon of the conviction. A pardon basically sets aside the conviction, and, by setting aside the conviction, the firearm prohibition based upon that conviction is also removed. Quite simply, because the conviction causes the prohibition, removing the conviction removes the prohibition. If you have questions about your Second Amendment rights or have been charged with a crime, we encourage you to call JD Law at (814) 954-7622 or send our attorneys an email.