Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Guns: That strange age

I'm an unabashed firearms enthusiast, for pretty much all the reasons you can think of. There's the obvious practical considerations, as well as a more abstract connection with a free republic that goes along with owning weapons (an idea that goes back to the ancient Greek panoply). I understand the desire to defend oneself with a firearm, and that modern society often demands that firearm be concealable (that is, a handgun).

(Note: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, seek a qualified attorney if you need to know the relevant statutes and all the baggage associated with them)

Strangely enough, Federal law has different standards of age for buying handguns versus shotguns/rifles. You cannot buy handguns from a dealer if you are under 21. Buying handgun ammunition from a dealer when you are under 21 is also a no-no (note, though, that the distinction between handgun and rifle ammunition (18 U.S.C. Sec. 922 (9)(b)(1)) is pretty nebulous these days, with rifles chambered in pistol calibers and rifle cartridges being shot out of handguns).

There are ways to stay well within the law and still get the tools you need for self-defense. In many states, you can buy handguns from private parties while only being 18, for example. Many of the online ammo stores (like MidwayUSA) aren't Federal dealers and can thus sell handgun ammo to 18-20 year olds. In a way, it's curious that you can get an AR-15 from a dealer at 18 that holds 30 rounds of 5.56mm, but you can't buy a single-shot .22 target pistol from that same dealer.

If your position is even more dire (perhaps a felony conviction, and for some reason you cannot get your rights back), note that muzzleloading guns and their replicas are "antique firearms" under Federal law and thus are not burdened by the same restrictions as other guns. Obey the law, know your rights, and stay safe.


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