Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Overheard in the Hallway...

Winchester .45-cal 260gr PTHP, with sabot for loading in .50-cal muzzleloader

Me: *gesticulates wildly with box of muzzle-loading sabot bullets* "This is a regular .45 caliber 260-gr Platinum Tip Hollow Point, same as you'd get in a .454 Casull round, only they sell them with sabots for using in your muzzle loader."

RX: "Wait, did you have those?"

Me: "Yeah. For my muzzle loader. Who doesn't?"

RX: "Most people can't hear some random type of ammunition and go 'Wait, I think I have some of that up in the attic.'"

Me: "I have some of the Knight's sabots, too, but I couldn't find them."
I keep seeing references on Team Our Side to the guy in Washington, D.C. who was sentenced for "Antique Replica Bullets" or, as Emily Miller called them "simply pieces of copper, you know, from an antique, Revolution-era type gun." That's not factually correct; he was charged with having "ammunition":
§ 7-2501.01. Definitions (2) "Ammunition" means cartridge cases, shells, projectiles (including shot), primers, bullets (inc luding restricted pistol bullets), propellant powder, or other devices or materials designed, redesigned, or intended for use in a firearm or destructive device.
Even the NRA called them "antique replica muzzleloader bullets" and you'd think if anybody should know Fudd guns, it's the NRA. Only they weren't MiniƩ balls, they were modern Barnes pistol bullets, just sold to frontstuffer hunters in blister packs instead of bulk packed for handloaders.

Now, D.C.'s law that treats ammunition components, such as brass, primers, and bullets, as "ammunition" which needs special permits and licensing to own is ridiculous and unconstitutional and needs to be overturned, but at the same time, saying the guy was arrested for musket balls is no more factually correct than saying he was arrested for having an assault clip full of shoulder things that go up.

ETA: Of course, let's not forget that David Gregory did not get proned out in his studio by D.C. Metro SWAT for waving around an actual assault clip capable of holding thirty Think Of The Childrens in front of God and everybody on live TV, thereby endangering Americans in living rooms all across the nation by exposing them to the sight of a weapon of mass destruction.

.

32 comments:

ProudHillbilly said...

Hm. I never read the D.C. law, basically because I'm too much of a coward to try to drive in the city - if the subway doesn't go there then I don't need to.

But now it makes me wonder about MD law - do drive there. And the spent brass that sometimes ends up rolling around in the back.

Scott J said...

Wow, so in DC one needs a permit to own fodder for a device the ATF doesn't consider enough of a firearm to warrant a 4473 to transfer?

Tam said...

Scott J,

"Wow, so in DC one needs a permit to own fodder for a device the ATF doesn't consider enough of a firearm to warrant a 4473 to transfer?"

You sure as shit do need a 4473 to transfer a .454 Casull.

Matt W said...

Makes me wonder if BBs, copper or steel, would be classified as such since they can easily be used as shot...

Tam, thanks for the enlightenment, that is the first time I've heard that he was using modern bullets with sabots, not antique cast musket balls. The law still sucks, but changes my initial outrage at him being wrongfully convicted.

joshs said...

Tam,

I don't think your analysis is correct. Note that the definition of "ammunition" in the D.C. Code requires that the "projectiles" be "designed, redesigned, or intended for use in a firearm." "Firearm" is further defined by a variation of the common "expel a projectile by action of an explosive" definition, but it also excludes "antique firearms." "Antique firearm" follows the federal definition, which excludes muzzle loaders. Projectiles that are designed for use in a muzzle loader would not be "ammunition" under the D.C. Code because they were not designed, redesigned, or intended for use in a firearm.

Tam said...

joshs,

The bullets in question, .452" Barnes XPBs, were designed and intended for use in a firearm. To wit, in the centerfire .45 Colt or .454 Casull smokeless powder metallic cartridges.

That it is also sold along with plastic sabots to be fired out of .50" muzzleloaders does not change its original design intent.

I hate playing devil's advocate here, but for god's sake, by the letter of their stupid law, they were right.

Tam said...

...although an interesting situation would arise if they were newer Barnes "MZ" bullets, which are designed specifically for muzzleloader use and not repurposed handgun bullets. (Even though they are, for all intents and purposes, substantially identical to the pistol bullets.)

Tam said...

...now I'm trying to find out exactly which bullets they were. :D

joshs said...

I'm not sure which bullets they were; that was why I disagreed that he had necessarily violated the law. However, it looks like Knight mostly uses XPBs in their sabots, so you are very likely correct.

Mark Philip Alger said...

This is going to keep going on until public officials face personal, individual and several legal consequences for conspiring against civil rights.

M

Scott J said...

"You sure as shit do need a 4473 to transfer a .454 Casull"

Oh I understand that but it seems to me to be all sorts of grey area.

Does packaging perhaps change intent for the projectile?

Your post is the first I'm aware of the law and the case.

It almost seems to be one of those constructive possession things.

It's a strange mental exercise for me to think about things like my being able to buy this and keep it in my house without issue so long as I own no Glock: http://www.zahal.org/products/tactical-stock-for-glock-jericho-941-handguns

However if I buy it and later on add a Glock to my collection I best be getting a tax stamp prior to taking possession of said theoretical Glock.

Matthew said...

Well, no. This is "going to continue" until the people who elect these idiots stop doing so in the few places where they enact laws like this and appoint judges who uphold them.

If we can't muster the political will to simply not vote in idiot banners, there's no way we'll elect representatives who will vote to hold themselves accountable for banning.

Tam said...

Scott J,

"Oh I understand that but it seems to me to be all sorts of grey area."

Not really. The law prohibits the unlicensed possession of ammunition. Among the things defined as ammunition right there in black and white are "bullets... designed, redesigned, or intended for use in a firearm." Those are bullets designed for use in a firearm, ergo by the black letter of the Washington DC city code, they are ammunition requiring a license to possess. Unless and until that law is overturned via legislative or judicial action they will remain ammunition that it is illegal to possess in DC without a license.

perlhaqr said...

I'm just overwhelmed by... some emotion (I'm not quite sure what it is, yet, maybe a mixture) over the display of "our team, your team" being perpetrated by the same people who live in the city with that rule going all sideways over India holding that NYPD officer in jail for violating India's version of that very same law. Especially given that I wouldn't exactly faint from shock if you told me NYC has a similar law in place as well.

Tam said...

Another interesting point: Their definition of "ammunition" includes shot.

If you guy a bag of lead shot from JoeBlowCo to use as ballast, would it be okay, but if you bought a 10-lb bag of #6 chilled lead shot from Winchester, would that be 36,160 counts of unlicensed possession of ammunition?

staghounds said...

Arguably yes. Winchester designs and labels its shot as such. If JoeBlowCo. calls it ballast dust and markets it as such, it's designed for another purpose.

Now if he has a shotgun reloading setup...

36,160 counts? Is it more like possessing a bag containing ten thousand leaves of marijuana or grains of heroin, or more like possessing a hard drive with a hundred child pornography images?

The "use as ballast" is irrelevant, possession of "projectiles" doesn't require intent and putting them in the bottom of the boat doesn't remove the shot from that category.

Which seems crazy. Would a handful of lead shot factory packed in the base of a snow globe to keep it from tipping over be "projectiles"? I submit not, even though they are the same physical object.

I believe he has a similar argument- that these objects, sometimes sold to others as "projectiles (designed for use in a firearm)" changed their character by being sabotted and sold to him as "things to be shot out of something that is not a firearm". The originals were designed to be used in a firearm, but these- like the snow globe shot- have been altered into a different thing.

They, like the snow globe shot, ball bearings, or old nails, could be made into "projectiles (for use in a Casull which IS a firearm)", but that would move them into the "or" category which would require proof of intent.

That would be my argument, anyway.

He's screwed by the .270 case, the dud shotgun shell, and the shot and powder they contain.

Tam said...

staghounds,

"I believe he has a similar argument- that these objects, sometimes sold to others as "projectiles (designed for use in a firearm)" changed their character by being sabotted and sold to him as "things to be shot out of something that is not a firearm". The originals were designed to be used in a firearm, but these- like the snow globe shot- have been altered into a different thing."

IANAL ("Worst Apple product ever!") but what they were sold to hem as does not change what they were designed for. As you said, there's no intent required for posession, and so what he (or Knight's) intended to put them in would not change their original design, no?

Ratus said...

Because awesome.

http://snarkyposters.blogspot.com/2014/04/its-shoulder-thing-that-goes-up.html

Scott J said...

A question about "designed for .454 Casull".

Can they be pushed at the same velocity out of the smoke pole?

If not that might imply a design change for the intended application.

Or perhaps not but I know some hollowpoints are tuned to certain velocity ranges.

Not saying those are. Just doing some IANAL pondering.

Formynder said...

It gets a little more convoluted, as in DC you can only own ammunition for firearms that you have registered. But since his muzzleloader was an antique and not considered a firearm by definition, he wasn't able to register it, nor was he required to.

Angus McThag said...

This is like .22LR and is it or is it not handgun ammunition.

If you're under 21 the distinction matters if you're trying to buy from an FFL and it's all about the intended use and not the design of the round.

But the law or regs say so, don't they?

Doesn't seem to be an "unless intended for muzzle loading" clause here.

Charles Pergiel said...

I was wondering how this whole thing got started. I finally found this: "Police based their search on a charge made by Mr. Witaschek’s estranged wife...", which makes me think she's screwing the DA. I think this was the plot in Law & Order #427.

Tam said...

Scott J,

"A question about "designed for .454 Casull".

Can they be pushed at the same velocity out of the smoke pole?

If not that might imply a design change for the intended application.
"

It doesn't matter. These are the same .452" bullets originally intended for smokeless metallic cartridge firearms. By the black letter of DC law, it doesn't matter if he was planning to use them in a slingshot.

Look, it doesn't take that much imagination to go back to the day they wrote the ban ordinance up. Somebody drafts an ordinance to ban unlicensed ammo sales or possession in the District; somebody else points out that bullets, cases, powder, and primers are easily available via mail order. "Fine," says Councilperson A, "we'll ban those too."

Now it doesn't matter whether you have a modern firearm in DC or not. You could have a box of 148gr SWC bullets or a piece of spent brass in the treads of your shoe and you don't need a gun, muzzleloader or not; that's unlicensed ammunition as far as the city ordinances are concerned.

Tam said...

Scott J,

Although, since you asked "Can they be pushed at the same velocity out of the smoke pole?", the answer is "Yes".

Out of a modern inline 209-primed muzzleloader like my T/C Encore, a saboted .45" pistol bullet on a max load of pyrodex is basically a single-shot .454 Casull carbine, ballistically speaking.

Anonymous said...

"This is "going to continue" until the people who elect these idiots stop doing so in the few places where they enact laws like this and appoint judges who uphold them."

Then it will go on so long as the .gov keeps buying the votes of these people. They are not troubled by these, or any laws, for that matter: they break them and still get fed, and still get to vote. The vote buying and delivery of goods and services in payment for those votes is an entire Industry in and of itself..... The country (as it exists now) could not continue without it .... It will not change, until producers stop accepting the Feds watered down dollars. It WILL change, though, because it can not continue indefinitely.

This will get exciting, eventually. Not fun, but pretty exciting nonetheless.


-jimbob86

Buzz said...

I thank God I don't live anywhere near that event horizon of sanity.


Hell, by their definition, I could use a crusty booger as a bullet, with the proper barrel and sabot.

Scott J said...

Tam, just so you know I'm not being combative. I'm genuinely curious about this.

I'm inferring a tone of annoyance in your responses but that sort of thing is hard to tell for sure over the interwebz.

I had another thought last night as I was casting up 240 gr SWC for my .44: I wonder how the law looks at bullet molds? After all once you have one all you need is lead, a heat source, a container to melt it in and something to dip and pour.

Everything but the mold is readily available for non-firearm uses.

staghounds said...

I agree that the bullets are "projectiles... designed... for use in a firearm".

They could lose that character- by, say, being melted and commingled with other metals.

Somewhere between "in a box labeled .454 Casull bullets" and "a pot full of molten copper or lead" is there some other action that changes their character?

That's a question a Jury has to answer. Pretty clearly painting them doesn't. Melting the lead out of the core and turning it into a fishing sinker probably does.

Does sabotting them? Is the bullet still a bullet, or is it now a mere component of another item, a muzzle loader projectile?

Yours is the Government's argument- he can just pop them out of the sabots, they remain projectiles because the designed capability is still there. I agree, a Jury is likely to agree too.

It IS poor drafting. But the law is not good at the margins of technology, is it?

You'll notice I didn't say he's screwed by the primers. Since a primer is defined by what it does, they had by being fired stopped being primers.

staghounds said...

And you would make a brilliant lawyer if you chose, your mind is subtle as well as clear.

Tam said...

Scott J,

"I'm inferring a tone of annoyance in your responses but that sort of thing is hard to tell for sure over the interwebz."

No more than my usual background level of annoyance with the universe in general; it's not you. ;)

"I had another thought last night as I was casting up 240 gr SWC for my .44: I wonder how the law looks at bullet molds? "

This is the part that's a little frustrating, though. The law (the specific law under discussion, here) doesn't look at bullet molds at all, or reloading dies, or whatever. It says: "cartridge cases, shells, projectiles (including shot), primers, bullets (including restricted pistol bullets), propellant powder, or other devices or materials designed, redesigned, or intended for use in a firearm or destructive device."

A bullet mold is none of those things.

Scott J said...

"doesn't look at bullet molds at all, or reloading dies, or whatever"

Again, wow. As Buzz said above: event horizon of stupidity.

Geodkyt said...

Hell, Scott, these are the sorts of people who think that "high capacity ammunition clips" (i.e., standard magazines) get "used up" and thrown away once empty, like an aerosol can.