Wednesday, June 22, 2016

America's Second Amendment to the Constitution - Part III

The exact language of the second amendment is:  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  
   Arms are generally perceived as handguns and rifles.  However, some arms are prohibited by law as a "destructive device."  The old Kentucky rifle, if it had a round  of .50 caliber (or 12.7 mm) or more, would not be currently construed as a destructive device - but the bullet would.  Current law in the United States declares that any weapon that fires a projectile larger than .50 caliber is a destructive device.  (For those of you unfamiliar with the caliber of a bullet, cartridge, or projectile, it is the with of the projectile, or round, at it's greatest width.  In the US, we use the old measurements, so a .50 caliber bullet would be 1/2 inch wide.)
   In the United States, a  destructive device is a type of firearm or explosive device regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, and revised by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.  Examples of destructive devices include grenades, and firearms with a bore over one half of an inch (.50 inches or 12.7 mm), including some rifles and shotguns, both semi-automatic and manually operated.  While current federal laws allow destructive devices, some states have banned them from transfer to civilians.  In states where they are banned, only law enforcement and military personnel are allowed to possess them.
   All National Firearms Act firearms, including destructive devices, must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
   The definition of a "destructive device" is found in 26 U.S.C. § 584(f). 
   The definition reads as follows:
(1)  Any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas, (A) bomb, (B) grenade, (C) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four (4) ounces, (D) missile having an explosive charge of more than 1/4 ounce, (E) mine or (F) similar device.
(2)  Any weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch diameter (.50 inches or 12.7 mm), except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes;
(3)  Any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device as defined in subparagraphs (1) and (2) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.
    The term destructive device shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon; any device, although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line throwing, safety, or similar device; surplus ordinance sold, loaned or given by the Secretary of the Army, pursuant to the provisions of Section 4684(2), 4685, or 4686 of the Title 10 of the United States Code; or any other device the Secretary finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, or is an antique or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting purposes.
The term "Secretary" originally referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, as the National Firearms Act is part of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.  Since the BATF's transfer to the Department of Justice in 2002, the term "Secretary" now refers to the Attorney General.
   Muzzle-loading guns are not considered firearms in the United States and do not fall under the regulations of the National Firearms Act.  However, their projectiles may still be subject to NFA regulation.  For instance, a person may manufacture, possess and fire a black powder, muzzle-loading cannon of any bore diameter; but that person may not fire explosive shells from that cannon, as the explosive shell is, itself, defined as a destructive device.

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