Washington FFL Question. Needed or not, this looks grey to me

Transfer via FFL?

  • Yes

    Votes: 7 70.0%
  • No

    Votes: 3 30.0%

  • Total voters
    10

awshoot

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(1) "Antique firearm" means a firearm or replica of a firearm not designed or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898, including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
This is a horrific disgrace to English, but if we break it down and subtract irrelevant parts, what it does is tell us what an "antique" is (*) and also creates an exception for firearms that ordinarily would not be antiques.

To be an antique the firearm must meet two elements:
  1. not designed or retrofitted to use rim/center fire cartidges AND
  2. manufactured before (EDIT: "in or before") 1898
Your rifle is not an antique because it uses centerfire cartridges. There is an exception for rifles that use cartridges -- if the ammo is not available to buy, then the rifle is an antique. So the only element your rifle matches, is the date. It's not an antique under the statute, and it doesn't meet the exception that would bring it under the antique umbrella because ammo is available in the marketplace.

(*) For purposes of the statute -- this definition differs from the colloquial meaning of antique.
 
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You are confused, it is a antique under state and federal law because of year of built no problem there.
Washington State says as part of being a antique ammo is not available
 
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This is a horrific disgrace to English, but if we break it down and subtract irrelevant parts, what it does is tell us what an "antique" is (*) and also creates an exception for firearms that ordinarily would not be antiques.

To be an antique the firearm must meet two elements:
  1. not designed or retrofitted to use rim/center fire cartidges AND
  2. manufactured before 1898
Your rifle is not an antique because it uses centerfire cartridges. There is an exception for rifles that use cartridges -- if the ammo is not available to buy, then the rifle is an antique. So the only element your rifle matches, is the date. It's not an antique under the statute, and it doesn't meet the exception that would bring it under the antique umbrella because ammo is available in the marketplace.

(*) For purposes of the statute -- this definition differs from the colloquial meaning of antique.
So why is it that everyone else, including the ATF, interprets it differently than you do here?

As has already been mentioned, trap-door Springfield rifles are always antiques, despite 45-70 ammo being quite common.
 

awshoot

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I am confused by what you are saying. The Washington definition of an antique is word-for-word the same as the Federal definition, and the feds say that your Krag does not need to go through an FFL, regardless of the ammo it uses. This is very clear. Availability of ammo is simply not relevant for that gun.

Awshoot makes the point that although the federal and state statutes are verbatim, the state could theoretically interpret them differently. While possible I suppose, this seems incredibly far-fetched to me. Why copy something verbatim and then interpret it differently?
The reality is that people buy and sell antique guns in common calibers all the time, with the common knowledge and blessing of the feds that if it was made before 1899, and not NFA, no federal paperwork is needed. Reading something into a word-for-word state statute to require something more seems a real stretch to me.
It's not theoretical -- it's two different jurisdictions. Interpretations from foreign jurisdictions are what are known as persuasive authority -- it means a court can consider those interpretations but is not bound by them. Secondly, we are talking about an agency decision, not a SCOTUS ruling. Agency decisions, especially agencies from foreign jurisdictions, are merely persuasive which means they can be ignored. Persuasive Authority Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.

Consider the political climate in WA state. A rifle seller's lawyer might point out the ATF's feelings on the issue and the prosecutor will just say -- "so what, look at the plain language. It fires centerfire ammo he can buy online. Plain language trumps all other forms of statutory interpretation. Not antique." The state judge would be entirely within his or her rights to come to a conclusion different than the ATF's and honestly, if was betting on the outcome, I would bet on the prosecutor winning.
 
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awshoot

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You are confused, it is a antique under state and federal law because of year of built no problem there.
Washington State says as part of being a antique ammo is not available
It's old enough to be an antique if it was anything else, but to be an "antique firearm" under the statute -- so a completely different meaning of antique -- requires either that it never fired cartridges or the cartridges are not available.
 

awshoot

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So why is it that everyone else, including the ATF, interprets it differently than you do here?

As has already been mentioned, trap-door Springfield rifles are always antiques, despite 45-70 ammo being quite common.
I don't think there is a WA state Court of Appeals or WA State Supreme Court case interpreting this statute. So the most important player in this question hasn't weighed in. The way to think about it is whether the $20-40 a BGC will cost is worth the risk of the years of litigation it would take, at $300 - 1000 per hour, to answer the question under Washington law.

EDIT: Don't get hung up on the words being the same. It's part of our system to have multiple jurisdictions and we as a nation trend this way and that on State's rights. Part of State's rights is that the states get to decide things their own way. This means the same words can lead to different outcomes.
 
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So again, if the wording is as clear as you say, why does everyone, including the ATF, say it means something else?

I just don't understand how a prosecutor could say, "Sure, the Federal Government has said that these words mean one thing, for over 50 years, and such has been common knowledge for said 50 years, but I'm going to arbitrarily choose to interpret them differently in my jurisdiction." I'm at a total loss to see how that could ever fly. To me it seems absolutely absurd.

Personally I don't care about the cost of the background check or if the OP chooses to go that route. That's fine. I've had plenty of background checks myself. It just seems to me that you guys are making something out of nothing, reinterpreting something that has been a non-issue for literally decades.

Do people do background checks for trap-door Springfields and early Colt Peacemakers in Washington state? It would be interesting to reach out to some serious collectors there and see if they're "breaking the law". Dollars to donuts says they'll laugh at you.

I'll admit that I could be wrong. Things are getting pretty crazy lately. Insanity knows no bounds, and it's been a bit Bizzarro-world lately. I'm just having trouble imagining them coming after someone for something that has been so clearly understood and blessed as perfectly legal by federal authorities for so long, without warning that anyone might see it differently after a full half-century, over an antique, obsolete rifle. Again, really far fetched.
 
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awshoot

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So again, if the wording is as clear as you say, why does everyone, including the ATF, say it means something else?

I just don't understand how a prosecutor could say, "Sure, the Federal Government has said that these words mean one thing, for over 50 years, and such has been common knowledge for said 50 years, but I'm going to arbitrarily choose to interpret them differently in my jurisdiction." I'm at a total loss to see how that could ever fly. To me it seems absolutely absurd.
...
That's a consequence of Federalism -- how the system is designed in the Constitution. The alternative is that whatever they decide in DC is the law of the land and we have no individual state governments at all. When we feel the Feds got it right and the state didn't, it's annoying. But it also works when the Feds get something wrong and we can say "phwew -- glad the state got it right and the Feds don't rule everything" (although in a state like WA, this feeling is not likely common).

All I can say is that yes, it is incongruous. And that's how it ought to be.

EDIT: also, I'm not saying WA won't follow the Fed's lead -- just saying it doesn't hafta.
 
Using ATF, Federal law you are correct. Using Washington State law not so much.

According to RCW 9.41.010 definitions They define what a antique firearm is in this state.
I don't like it but in this state ammo matters.
 
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Hold on now- I'm extra confused. On searching more- it appears that the Washington statute is verbatim with the NFA definition of antiques, as opposed to the GCA definition. WOW, that's nuts! It looks like they really did pull one over on you guys!

Federally the NFA definitions apply to NFA regulated items like machine guns and short-barrel shotguns, whereas the GCA definition applies to everything else, but Washington State chose to copy the NFA definition. If that is really the way it is, then collectors there really do have to go through an FFL for Trap-door Springfields.

Sorry guys, I just couldn't fathom how something could be interpreted one way by literally everyone, and you all were freaked out that someone might see it differently, but now I see how badly they hosed you there. That's really bad what they did there. On the Federal level, that particular definition only applies to NFA items.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I see the confusion. That's one hell of a dirty trick they played on you all. :( These radical leftists are so petty and power-hungry that they have to come after obsolete, antique weapons?
 
OP
coltemp

coltemp

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Great discussion and it hits to the head of the matter.
If I was to buy this rifle, still kicking it around, I was leaning towards the FFL transfer anyway. It's only an extra $15 and as someone has pointed out why be the test case for this!

And yes typical Wa State why make it simple when you can be all vague and confusing. Need we say more about 594, 1639, WA state hunting regs, etc.... the list goes on and on...
 

gmerkt

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and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
It would cost you money, but a lawyer might argue the definition of "readily." Can a person go to Walmart and buy .30-40? No. Can they poke around at a gun show and find it? Very probably. But most people don't go to an infrequent gun show and poke around on a "maybe" as their definition of "readily."

My guess, cautious dealers who know about these finer points won't do it. More casual dealers would't worry over it. Tolerance for risk determines the answer as to whether or not to do it.

I gave some bum advice to an old gal once. She had a Winchester 1886 in .33 Win. It had belonged to her husband and she wanted to give it to her nephew in another state. I mistakenly told her it was an antique. We boxed it up, shipped it and there were no repercussions. My knowledge of Winchesters wasn't as good then as it became later. When I discovered that 86's were made right up to 1936, and the .33 wasn't made until 1902. Oops. But that rifle should've qualified as an antique under any reasonable standards. Clearly DESIGNED before 1898, and .33 Win. is not common but is considered "modern" because it is smokeless. But kinda rare and desirable.

Too bad there isn't some latitude in picayunish laws like these. I know laws in general need to draw lines and spell out rules with boundaries. But some kind of reason or consideration could govern what are basically administrative laws such as defining what an antique firearm is. Like the category, "curio." There are a number of curio firearms that aren't antiques but are quite rare, valuable, and do not move much in commerce. Meaning, they aren't apt to be used by ordinary criminals and those are the people the laws are trying to control. Before the federal blanket rule of 50 years for curio firearms went into effect, you could write and petition the BATF to have a firearm listed as a curio. I had it done with a couple of rare WW2 era German pistols. It's likely beyond the capabilities or comprehension of our state pols to try to come up with any sort of elasticity for antique firearm definition.
 
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I was hung up on the state statute being a verbatim copy of the federal statute, and how the exact same words could possibly mean different things. THEN it hit me, like a ton of bricks, that they copied a different statute for an entirely different class of firearms! Washington State did NOT copy the federal firearm statute, they copied the federal machine gun statute!

I normally don't like to talk like this or feel this way, but to me this shows how the extremists currently in power have no interest in compromise. They really do want to stick it to you in every way possible. :(
 

awshoot

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...
And yes typical Wa State why make it simple when you can be all vague and confusing. ...
To be fair -- it isn't really a WA thing. It is the way our governmentS are designed in the US Constitution. There are areas of overlapping jurisdiction between Federal and State governments, and areas where either is supreme. Sometimes where there is overlap there is conflict. Sometimes as here, there is a clear understanding in one jurisdiction but not the other.

In any event, we aren't actually "one nation" -- to a greater or lesser degree we are 50+ nations federated such the Federal government handles issues between the states and with other nations. Part of the confusion I think is that the word "state" anywhere else in the world means "nation" -- it is only here where the 50+ countries that we call states, have relinquished jurisdiction over certain topics to that overarching federation, or what we call the Federal government.

Anyway, the potential for WA to decide differently is a feature, not a bug.
 

awshoot

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... I normally don't like to talk like this or feel this way, but to me this shows how the extremists currently in power have no interest in compromise. They really do want to stick it to you in every way possible. :(
True. Although I think the extremists have been around for a bit. This word salad of a law was added to the RCWs in 1994, and we all know what brilliant Federal legislation that year brought: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/bienn...ouse/2319-S2.SL.pdf?cite=1994 sp.s. c 7 § 401
 

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