Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rep. Bob Ballinger: let felons have a muzzleloader

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 8:49 AM

MUSKET BOB: Ballinger's bill hopes to avoid any awkward raids at the Antiques Road Show.
  • MUSKET BOB: Ballinger's bill hopes to avoid any awkward raids at the Antiques Road Show.

Sometimes my favorite part of bills at this point in the session is just the names. Rep. Bob Ballinger's "An Act to Permit a Person Convicted of a Felony to Possess a Muzzleloader" is set for the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Now that's a good, clear, robust name for a law. 

A muzzleloader is defined as "antique firearm or replica antique firearm," as defined by federal law. Here's what that means

(A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or

(B) any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if such replica—
(i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or
(ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade; or

(C) any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “antique firearm” shall not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof. 

I'm just wildly speculating here, but maybe Ballinger has a constituent with an unfortunate incident in his past that he has now put behind him, and he just wants to be a contributing member of society who happens to be super duper in to Civil War re-enactments. 

Well, you know what? Fair enough. Perhaps this isn't the absolute best use of the General Assembly's time, but if someone has paid their debt to society and really wants to hang on to their great-great grandaddy's flintlock rifle, I say more power to them. A felon planning to return to a life of crime would presumably acquire an illegal firearm rather than try to do damage with a Springfield Musket. 

I would amend the bill to clarify, for the record, that antique firearms are not allowed at the Capitol even when the honor of Robert E. Lee is threatened

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