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The 1968 Gun Control Act


It seems CNN went out on a limb in their quest to attack the .50 rifle, sending one of their reporters to purchase a .50 in a private sale from a resident of another state.  The following law appears to apply:
922. Unlawful acts (a) It shall be unlawful - (1) for any person - (A) except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce...
Why, yes, flying to another state to conduct the purchase would count as "receiving a firearm in interstate commerce".

UPDATE: I think CNN can skate on this one.  They are not in the business of manufacturing, importing, or dealing in firearms.  However, the ATF FAQ on this topic (see below) does not include this exception!  So the official position may be different, and less favorable to CNN, than the plain language of the law.
(3) for any person, other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to transport into or receive in the State where he resides (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, the State where it maintains a place of business) any firearm purchased or otherwise obtained by such person outside that State...
Why yes, flying home with it is also a crime. 

UPDATE: After the collective wisdom of gunblogger analysis, this violation seems to hold up to scrutiny IF, and ONLY IF, CNN's reporter is considered to have bought the gun.  That's a very tough question that isn't covered by the law itself, that I know it.  That means it would be a jury question.

Here's the plain-language explanation, from the ATF's FAQ:
From whom may an unlicensed person acquire a firearm under the GCA?

A person may only buy a firearm within the person s own State, except that he or she may buy a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a licensee's premises in any State, provided the sale complies with State laws applicable in the State of sale and the State where the purchaser resides.
So the short answer is, you can buy a firearm out of your state of residence from a licensed dealer only.  CNN's story involves a private sale; they make an explicit point of that in their voiceover.

UPDATE: The story also says they "made sure the buyer and seller were in the same state".  That might mean physically, in which case this applies, or it might mean residing in the same state, in which case the initial sale was legal.  The conclusion I am reaching here is that the video doesn't tell us enough.  There are gray areas.

For those who are wondering if these rules include the modifications in the Firearms Owner's Protection Act, the answer is yes.  Later in that same document, the transportation rules from that law are described:
May a nonlicensee transport firearms for sporting or other lawful purposes?

Yes. Federal law provides a person, who is not prohibited by the GCA from receiving or transporting firearms, the right to transport a firearm under certain conditions, notwithstanding State or local law to the contrary. The firearms must be unloaded and in a locked trunk or, in a vehicle lacking a trunk, in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Also, the carrying and possession must be lawful at the place of origin and destination.
Because of that, I will take this data as reflecting the current state of the law.  CNN [ed- may have] fucked up big.  But will they get prosecuted?  We'll have to wait and see.

This entry was published Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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