Bill would expand antique firearms definitions nationwide

The move would free up most World War I-era rifles, trench guns and pistols from the ATF's purview, and roll forward every year. (Photo: Chris Eger/

The move would free up most World War I-era rifles, trench guns and pistols from the ATF’s purview, and roll forward every year. (Photo: Chris Eger/

A Senate measure would change the federal definition of an antique firearm from one made before 1899 to one that is 100 years old.

Introduced earlier this month as S.1541, the move would dramatically increase the number of older guns that are available to collectors that could be sold and shipped without a Federal Firearms License.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives generally does not regulate antique guns as defined under federal law as one made in or before 1898 that is not otherwise controlled by National Firearms Act. This means current “pre-1899” guns enjoy a premium with collectors over firearms of the same model made after the cutoff that can be transferred and shipped across state lines without an FFL due to their exemption.

Sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., the text of S.1541 would strike the 1898 language, established in 1968, and replace it with “the calendar year that is 100 years before the calendar year in which such determination is being made.”

This would mean that, if implemented in 2018, non-NFA controlled guns made in or before 1918 would be exempt from federal regulations. This would free up most World War I-era rifles, trench guns and pistols from the ATF’s purview. Further, the determination would roll forward every year.

In 2014, when a Congressman, Cassidy proposed a similar bill to the House that would have advanced the cutoff from 1898 to 2013. While it had the support of several gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, Defend Louisiana, and the Louisiana Shooters Association, it did not make it out of committee.

The new measure has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance but has no co-sponsors.

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