We’re starting with the basics – federal firearm definitions.

What is a firearm, what isn’t technically considered a firearm, and what makes a rifle, shotgun, and handgun unique?

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Outline of this episode:

  • Laws vs. Regulations
    • Legislative and Executive branches
      • Agencies carry out laws with regulations and report to the Executive branch
  • Firearms Definitions
    • Title 18 of US Code (criminal law) – Gun Control Act (GCA) Firearms (standard firearms)
    • Title 26 of US Code (Internal Revenue Code) – National Firearm Act (NFA) Firearms
      • ATF used to be under Treasury
  • 18 U.S. Code § 921(a)(3) The term “firearm” means (A) 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; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.
    • 80% receiver is not a REAL term/measurement
  • 18 U.S. Code § 921(a)(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.
  • Rifle is a firearm with a rifled barrel designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder
  • Shotgun is a firearm with a smooth barrel designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder
  • Handgun is a firearm designed and intended to be fired with one hand