The purchase, ownership, and sale of
muzzle loading guns (including cap and ball revolvers) isn't prohibited by
Federal law. The Federal law of importance was enacted in 1968. But there
are State laws regarding age and other issues.
Two generations ago there wasn't any
regulation on the ownership of guns. Now nearly all Americans live in
densely populated urban areas. More family members are killed by guns than
burglars. The laws didn't change as much as the circumstances. Minors may
no longer own guns, nor have unsupervised access.
Muzzle loading guns and cap and ball
revolvers are unsuitable for protection because of misfires. And there are
criminal penalties and civil liabilities for minors having access to
loaded guns of any kind.
Two generations ago the police were not
as pressed as today. Now, from a safe distance, they can't tell an
unloaded Civil War replica from a loaded modern gun. Keep all guns locked
up where others can't get to them.
The big distinction on gun sales is in
the 1968 Federal Firearms Act. All modern guns made after 1898 when
transferred across State lines must be sent through a Federal Firearms
Licensed (FFL) Dealer in the buyer's state (and frequently sent through an
FFL Dealer in the seller's state). For information about which antique
guns were made after 1898 and therefore within the controls of Federal
law, consult "Flayderman's Guide To Antique American Firearms" by Norm
The 1968 law as interpreted by the
Federal Government excludes the application of the law to muzzle loaders
including cap and ball revolvers. But there are State laws with felony
penalties for illegal sales or ownership. The most common issues in the
State restrictions are:
- Prior conviction for violence or
- Domestic restraining orders
If a friend is subject to a domestic
restraining order, keep cool and offer to immediately store the guns. Some
domestic restraining orders were vindictively or maliciously sought. When
the divorce is over, there is no need to have suffered the financial loss
and emotional degradation of having to sell the guns under pressure.
The ownership restriction laws require
interpretation on details. Consult a local FFL Dealer near you or the
regulations of the Federal [Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)].