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Alphabet people at it again.

JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 841 Senior Member
https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/spokane-man-who-built-working-cannon-sentenced-2-years-prison/NBFYOMX5F5HWBAEEK6QS2VQMJU/

Seems that a man was jailed for a cannon he made that fired soda cans. Im pretty good on ATF rulings so I can't figure out why or how they considered a muzzle loading, black powder cannon a destructive device. I even pulled up their definition on the atf website. This is getting ridiculous. 
We've been conditioned to believe that obedience is virtuous and voting is freedom- 
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Replies

  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,511 Senior Member
    Yep...I've been involved in some cannon builds...including a mortar that fired bowling balls....there is nothing illegal about it...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    What “soda cans” are 1.5” in diameter?  That’s crazy!  
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Jayhawker said:
    Yep...I've been involved in some cannon builds...including a mortar that fired bowling balls....there is nothing illegal about it...
    That’s what I thought!  Not that I’ve ever built or owned one but I was under the understanding that a back powder cannon was perfectly legal to own….
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,511 Senior Member
    There's something squirrelly as hell about this...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Jayhawker said:
    There's something squirrelly as hell about this...
    Yep….
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,511 Senior Member
    Sounds like a "special" agent that didn't pay attention,tion in class...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 841 Senior Member
    I tried my damndest to find any additional information but wasn't able to find what made his cannon illegal in this instance. I did catch the 1.5" discrepancy and I'm also guessing that it wasn't breech loading. Hell, even if it were breech loading, I don't know that it would be illegal as long as the ammo used is caseless.
    We've been conditioned to believe that obedience is virtuous and voting is freedom- 
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,997 Senior Member
    Jayhawker said:
    Sounds like a "special" agent that didn't pay attention,tion in class...
    As I read it, the man was sentenced in federal court. A little more than an idiot agent going on. Either there’s more involved, the federal judge in Washington is an idiot and the man’s attorney is a moron.... or all of the above. That’s an easy charge to beat with an attorney who has two brain cells to rub together unless there’s more to the story. 
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,997 Senior Member
    There’s my one post in the political section for the year.. 🤠
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 841 Senior Member
    I don't know. I'm at the point that I fear them anymore. They seem to me like it's a game or some kind of challenge to them to take people's freedom and liberty. Kinda how many DA's don't care about a defendant or what he may or may not have done. They just care about their conviction rate. Our judicial system is screwed.
    We've been conditioned to believe that obedience is virtuous and voting is freedom- 
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,997 Senior Member
    DAs=attorneys...judges, in almost all cases=attorneys.... politicians, in almost all cases=attorneys... there’s a trend there...
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member

    Muzzleloading cannons manufactured in or before 1898 (and replicas thereof) that are not capable of firing fixed ammunition are considered antiques and not subject to the provisions of either the Gun Control Act (GCA) or National Firearms Act (NFA).

    [26 U.S.C. 5845; 27 CFR 479.11]


    Where this guy went wrong was what he possessed to SHOOT out of his cannon:

    Cannon shells are classed as destructive devices in the U.S. under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA). They must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and, though legal under federal law, are prohibited from being owned by civilians in certain states. 

    Muzzle-loading cannons themselves, however, are not deemed to be firearms in the U.S. and are therefore not regulated by the NFA.

    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member
    Reenactors do not fire projectiles from their cannons during reenactments.  Any fused shells, cannister, etc... that they have displayed around the caissons and ammunition boxes are either facsimiles, or if they have the real thing they would have to be registered.

    Personally, I would not want to be on a reenactment field if I knew the artillery boys had the real deal anywhere nearby.  It is bad enough when a newbie shoves a ramrod into their musket barrel over a powder-only charge - not a mistake that anyone tends to make twice.

    Anyone who owns a cannon with a bore diameter greater than .50 caliber should abide by the local and Federal regulations - meaning don't have something you can shoot out of it that would fall under the description of a 'destructive device' or, perhaps more importantly, don't get caught with same.

    The article mentions 'soda cans', what it does not mention is what the contents were.  If you had a cannon with a bore diameter that would shoot a soda can, you would not want to have soda cans laying around with anything other than liquid refreshment inside of them.  Fill one with rocks or concrete or worse and you'd probably have some 'splaining to do

    "I didn't know" the rules in this case came at the expense of 2 years, which is a shorter time than the maximum, so he probably actually had a competent lawyer, and he agreed to plead guilty to the charge instead of going to trial.

    Sometimes it is not what you do with something, but what you could do with that something than runs you afoul of the Law.  Hence large numbers of bump-stocks and trigger activators owned by law abiding citizens with no evil intent that could land them in hot water - if caught.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 841 Senior Member
    Where did you find that he was firing cannon shells? Every article I found said that he fired soda cans with it. I think that's also what the atf used to test it.
    We've been conditioned to believe that obedience is virtuous and voting is freedom- 
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member
    edited July 18 #16
    I did not say he was firing cannon shells. What he was firing was considered to be a cannon shell.

    The fact that his design was such that soda cans could be, and were used as projectiles.

    Quite a few people make 'cannons' and fire soda cans / frozen juice concentrate containers out of them, usually filled with hardened concrete, and it can be an impressive display of destruction when fired at salvage yard items. 

    A soda can filled with soda would blow apart during the firing process, and an empty can would not fair better, so having a cannon and having soda cans that are either devoid of anything other than air, or filled with the liquid for which they were intended is not an issue. 

    Having soda cans (or similar sized containers) that are filled with something to give them additional mass other than the original design intent, along with being in possession of an operable cannon that could fire these would create a condition where the containers (with hardened content) could be used as a 'destructive device'.

    What tends to bring Law Enforcement knocking at your door is a report from a concerned person about behavior they have observed, or if a person foolishly posts materials online about their fantasies or threats of intent.

    Having a working black powder muzzle-loaded cannon is perfectly legal from a Federal perspective in the sense that there is no Federal prohibition against the cannon itself (some local jurisdictions may prohibit them).  The hanging point is, if you have a cannon and have destructive projectiles that can be fired from said cannon then you have the ability to use such projectiles in a destructive manner and could face prosecution - if caught.

    Having destructive projectiles that can be fired from a legitimate original or replica cannon, or crafting a device that can be used as a cannon and having destructive projectiles for that is where you would run into trouble if you were caught without having a proper license.

    It is goofy, and I am not trying to create an argument here, just pointing out that from a Federal perspective the gentleman could, in all likelihood, legally construct and possess his cannon, but he did not have the necessary license to have projectiles to shoot out of it (and he probably pissed someone off and they made a phone call about it.)

    The ridiculous counter-point is that this guy got prosecuted and sentenced to prison for making and shooting an (albeit dangerous) toy and yet persons with felony convictions get arrested and turned loose regularly for being in possession of a firearm.  The FBI lauds themselves for a job well done by releasing the number of legal firearm purchases averted through the NIC system, yet how many persons so denied as a result of them having lied on Form 4473 (a prosecutable offense) are actually prosecuted?



    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 841 Senior Member
    I'm not saying you're wrong, but the atf definition says nothing about what the cannon fires, except that it can't be self contained ammo. Like Jayhawker said, it's totally legal to make a bowling ball mortar AND fire it with bowling balls without having a $200 tax stamp. Either info is missing pertaining to this guys arrest or something is awry. 
    We've been conditioned to believe that obedience is virtuous and voting is freedom- 
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member
    edited July 19 #18
    From Title 26 of the US Code:



    People make, and shoot, all kinds of things for which they could be charged under this code - technically having an operable potato-gun could be a chargeable offense under this statute. (potato = projectile, PVC Tube = Barrel greater than half an inch in diameter, Hair Spray / Carb Cleaner = propellant. 

    The guys at Pumpkin Chunkin competitions that use compressed air to shoot pumpkins would be violating this code as well.

    Shooting bowling balls out of a tube would fall under this prohibition as well.

    What it comes down to is if a prosecutor chooses to prosecute, they will.  If they don't choose to prosecute, they won't.  Getting arrested for this pretty much requires someone going out of their way to attract attention to what they are doing, or being reported by someone who doesn't like what they are doing.

    The thing is, Laws don't usually specify what is legal (unless they are describing legal requirements to be in compliance), only what is illegal, and if what you are doing or have possession of is not specified as being illegal, then by default it is legal. 

    There is no law that states making a bowling ball mortar is 'totally legal', but since the barrel diameter of the mortar will exceed the .50" diameter, and the ball is being expelled out of that tube / barrel by the use of a propellent, Part F of the Title 26 US code would indicate that it is NOT legal to make a bowling ball mortar, and get caught with it.

    Just because people will state that they have made and fired bowling ball mortars and were not arrested for the activity does not mean that it was legal for them to have done this, it just means that they did not get arrested for it and charged with a crime.

    Having a muzzle-loading cannon is not prohibited.  Shooting any type of projectile out of one that is greater than .50 caliber requires a license to be legal at the Federal level. (it may still be illegal under local jurisdictions)

    The guy in Spokane did not have a license to shoot projectiles out of his cannon.  More importantly he probably pissed someone off, got investigated and was found to be in possession of items that, when combined, fell under an interpretation of the US code as constituting a destructive device.

    Now, using gunpowder to blast an anvil sky high would not be prohibited under this code as there is no barrel involved, so if you want to make a lot of noise and shoot very heavy objects into the air, this is the way to go. 

    If you are drilling a well hole, hit an obstruction, decide to overcome the obstruction with a stick of dynamite, and then have the brilliant idea to shove a fence post on top of the dynamite "to focus the blast downward" the Feds may consider that the hole in the ground constituted a barrel....

    "Heads Up!!"   B)

    (the judge may decide that you are just really, really stupid, and very lucky there were no low flying aircraft in range at that moment in time and that no one got hurt, so you will get a fine, but not be incarcerated - True Story)
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    But there are .54 and .58 caliber BP rifles all over the place!!!!!  I used to own a .54 cal Hawken years ago.  They’re legal to own.  This makes no sense to me.
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    edited July 19 #20
    Here’s a GB listing for an Italian made .54 Hawken.

    https://www.gunbroker.com/item/904966879
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    And what about .577 and .600 Nitro doubles?  There are plenty of rifles both BP and brass cartridge that are over .50 cal bore…
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Ok found it.  Under 2.1.8.2 exclusions:

    Any other device which the Attorney General 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.

    Then definition of “antique”
    Section 2.2 Antique firearm. Firearms defined by the NFA as “antique firearms” are not subject to any controls under the NFA.22 The NFA defines antique firearms based on their date of manufacture and the type of ignition system used to fire a projectile. Any firearm manufactured in or before 1898 that is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition is an antique firearm. Additionally, any firearm using a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar type ignition system, irrespective of the actual date of manufacture of the firearm, is also an antique firearm.

    So my 58 cal Hawken is perfectly legal… 😁
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 841 Senior Member
    Enzo, that was my reasoning with the muzzle loading cannon as well. According to the atf definition, it's not a destructive device if it's muzzle loading, not fixed ammo and the ammo isn't explosive itself.
    We've been conditioned to believe that obedience is virtuous and voting is freedom- 
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member

    So my 58 cal Hawken is perfectly legal… 😁
    As long as you intend to use it solely for sporting purposes. If you ever used it for SD, an energetic prosecutor might find an additional arcane charge to throw your way... 🤔   

    If you get the itch to have a punt gun though, you may actually need a license to shoot any projectiles out of it, as they are no longer legal to use when hunting waterfowl.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Some_Mook said:

    So my 58 cal Hawken is perfectly legal… 😁
    As long as you intend to use it solely for sporting purposes. If you ever used it for SD, an energetic prosecutor might find an additional arcane charge to throw your way... 🤔   

    If you get the itch to have a punt gun though, you may actually need a license to shoot any projectiles out of it, as they are no longer legal to use when hunting waterfowl.
    The chances of me deploying The Beast (my .58) as a SD weapon or getting an itch to buy a Punt gun are on the negative side of 0% so we’re good 😁
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Enzo, that was my reasoning with the muzzle loading cannon as well. According to the atf definition, it's not a destructive device if it's muzzle loading, not fixed ammo and the ammo isn't explosive itself.
    I think that’s defensible and since there are cannons all over the place in hands of common folks I would think sound thinking.  This smells more and more with every comment.  There has to be more to the story.
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    edited July 19 #27
    I love this thread.  Made me read a whole bunch of ATF code that I find educational.

    So directly from the horses mouth.




    Also from the ATF, the definition of fixed ammunition;

    Fixed ammunition. That self-contained unit consisting of the case, primer, propellant charge, and projectile or projectiles. 

    So the only plausible explanation is they went after the projectile or they are on a personal vendetta against this guy.  In either case, this is not the whole story.


    …. just thought of another one.  

    The article does not show the picture of the actual “canon” that got him in trouble.  Maybe the design and manufacturing did not meet the definition of a “replica” of an “antique”.  The article doesn’t specify muzzle loading, propellant or ignition method.  This “cannon” might have been a completely different animal than what we are all thinking. The guy actually pleaded guilty himself so he must have realized he screwed up.
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member
    It's the "Generally No" statement you want to be careful of, along the with the "Any Type Of 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 in diameter..."

    Slippery slope.  Probably best, if one owns a working cannon that not already expressly illegal, would be to enjoy the noise, smoke, flame and concussion of firing charges out of it without actually shooting a projectile unless you have paid the Treasury Department for the privilege.  Weigh $200.00 to have fun playing around vs Lawyer fees, Court Costs and the potential for a 10 year / 10K penalty for playing around without making the Tax Man happy first.

    Many decades ago, at the restored British fort in Mackinaw Michigan the rangers used to demonstrate firing a falconet one pounder out of the water gate into the Straights.  After awhile it was suggested to them that actually lobbing a projectile out into the Lake with boaters and such out there was probably not the absolutely safest thing to do, so they stopped shooting the cannon balls.  Even without a projectile, it is still fun to see and do.

    On a brighter note, I did not see anywhere that the BATF laid siege to the guy's house, killed his wife, dog and kid or set his house on fire with tear gas, so things are looking a bit less heavy-handed as far as ROE from the ATF and FBI against US Citizens these days.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 421 Member
    Enzo, reconsider the Punt Gun.  Just imagine the looks on people's faces if you showed up at the Super Market with one of those mounted to the Sport Bar of your Top-Off Wrangler...
    Might be fun even if you never did actually shoot something with it.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Some_Mook said:
    It's the "Generally No" statement you want to be careful of, along the with the "Any Type Of 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 in diameter..."

    Slippery slope.  Probably best, if one owns a working cannon that not already expressly illegal, would be to enjoy the noise, smoke, flame and concussion of firing charges out of it without actually shooting a projectile unless you have paid the Treasury Department for the privilege.  Weigh $200.00 to have fun playing around vs Lawyer fees, Court Costs and the potential for a 10 year / 10K penalty for playing around without making the Tax Man happy first.

    Many decades ago, at the restored British fort in Mackinaw Michigan the rangers used to demonstrate firing a falconet one pounder out of the water gate into the Straights.  After awhile it was suggested to them that actually lobbing a projectile out into the Lake with boaters and such out there was probably not the absolutely safest thing to do, so they stopped shooting the cannon balls.  Even without a projectile, it is still fun to see and do.

    On a brighter note, I did not see anywhere that the BATF laid siege to the guy's house, killed his wife, dog and kid or set his house on fire with tear gas, so things are looking a bit less heavy-handed as far as ROE from the ATF and FBI against US Citizens these days.
    Yeah the regs are written loosely enough that they can be easily interpreted either way, but I think there is enough documentation and cases out there where it would be tough for the ATF to single out just one person that did the same as many others have done.  If I had a hankering for a traditional design cannon I don’t think I’d sweat it much.  But anyway, that’s why I think there had to be something “special” about this guys “cannon”.  Sin by hav no pics o it we’ll enable to tell, but the fact that he actually pleaded guilty himself makes me think he knew he was at least pushing his “cannon” design/function hard enough that he knew there was no point in fighting it.

    The non-siege is a big plus though 😁
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 133 Member
    Some_Mook said:
    Enzo, reconsider the Punt Gun.  Just imagine the looks on people's faces if you showed up at the Super Market with one of those mounted to the Sport Bar of your Top-Off Wrangler...
    Might be fun even if you never did actually shoot something with it.
    If I’m mounting anything on my Jeep it’ll be a .50 on a tripod 😁
    I’m baaaaaaaaack… 😬
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