Have you ever wanted to know, in a concise, short nutshell, just how stupid American "gun control" really is?
Well, here you go. This is not a gun:
No, seriously, that is not a firearm… at least not in the BATFE-dictated, legal definition. Oh, sure, it and its brothers served in the Swiss Army for somewhere around 35+ years, it possesses an impressive free-floating barrel that aids in its already-notable accuracy, it carries an onboard, six-round magazine, and it shoots still-available, if expensive, ammunition that is roughly comparable to the modern 7.62x51mm round used by NATO forces today, but since this particular Model 96/11 Schmidt-Rubin rifle was constructed by Waffenfabrik Bern in 1898 (in Solothurn, as its stamping indicates), it is legally not a firearm here in the United States of America.
Why is that? Well, one needs to take a look at 26 U.S.C. § 5845, subsections (a) and (g):
The term “firearm” shall not include an antique firearm or any device (other than a machinegun or destructive device) which, although designed as a weapon, the Secretary finds by reason of the date of its manufacture, value, design, and other characteristics is primarily a collector’s item and is not likely to be used as a weapon.
(g) Antique firearm
The term “antique firearm” means any 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 or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898) 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 definition was pretty much repeated in 18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(16). Obviously the notion of "ordinary channels of commercial trade" have changed significantly since the National Firearms Act (of which the above quote is part) was written in 1934 and amended all the way up through 1986, but 7.5x55mm Swiss has been officially categorized as a "Curio and Relic" caliber by the BATFE and thus still qualifies for the distinction (though James Wesley, Rawles indicates that ammunition caliber does not really matter). Ironically, the cut-off year has remained since 1968 (when the Gun Control Act imposed it), despite the distance between the current year and 1898 increasing with every passing orbit.
So what does this mean to you?
In most states in the Union*, no background check is necessary to purchase this device, no matter where you buy it from – it is not a firearm.
In most states in the Union, you can have it shipped straight to your door, without having a Curio and Relic license and without using an FFL/gun store – it is not a firearm.
In most states in the Union, anyone can own it, including "prohibited persons" (felons, etc.) – it is not a firearm.
There is no "paper trail" on this device – it is not a firearm.
It could be rechambered in a "modern" caliber, and it would still be an antique – it is not a firearm, and can never be one (though, oddly, if you gave it a short barrel, it would be subject to that part of the NFA).
So remind me again how important it is to ban those dangerous "assault weapons" and how "military-style" hardware (like the above antique) is so dangerous and how aesthetic features on firearms are inherently evil? And explain to me why I have to pay for and undergo a background check and fill out all the appropriate forms to snag much the same Remington 700 our military uses when I can instead have a rifle some other country used a few decades ago delivered to my door with no muss, no fuss, no background check, and no additional cost? (Not to say those two firearms are comparable; I would imagine they are not.)
While you are at that, I will be over here, laughing my ass off at how ignorant you are, and adding a few antiques to my shopping list. Thankfully, Rawles thoughtfully provided some decent suggestions in the above link…
(* – New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and maybe Kalifornistan are examples of states with specific laws pertaining to antique "firearms". There are probably others. I am not a lawyer, proceed at your own risk, I am not responsible for you remaining law-abiding, etc.)
(And, yes, I know this post might incidentally inspire anti-rights cultists to start going after antique "firearms" as well… such things have been attempted before, and failed miserably, and I see no reason why they would move forward now.)
(Given the intentionally complex and maliciously confusing firearm laws of this country, it is highly likely I got something wrong above. If you see such an error, please feel free to point it out, and if you use this post as legal advice, you are stupider than you look.)
(Image courtesy of Empire Arms, who is selling the featured rifle and three of its brethren for between $400 and $495 (though the cheap one has already sold). If I had the money, I totally would snag one, and at the rate antique "firearms" are disappearing, one of these days I am going to have to stop just saying that…)