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A firearm is defined as any device (including a starter gun) that is designed, or may readily be converted, to expel a projectile by an explosion, a spring, or other mechanical action, or by air or gas pressure with sufficient force to be used as a weapon.
Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (for example, short–barreled shotguns and short–barreled rifles) are defined as handguns. The following definitions apply:
- Pistol or Revolver. A pistol or revolver is a handgun designed to be fired by the use of a single hand.
- Short–Barreled Rifle. A rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches long is defined as a short–barreled rifle. This includes any weapon made from a rifle (by alteration or modification) resulting in an overall length of less than 26 inches.
- Short–Barreled Shotgun. A shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18 inches long is defined as a short–barreled shotgun. This includes any weapon made from a shotgun (by alteration or modification) resulting in an overall length of less than 26 inches.
431.3 Antique Firearm
An antique firearm (including one with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) is any firearm manufactured in or before 1898, or a replica of such a firearm, that meets either of the following conditions:
- It is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition.
- It uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition that is no longer manufactured in the United States and that is not readily available through commercial trade channels.
431.4 Rifles and Shotguns
A rifle is a shoulder weapon having a barrel that is 16 inches or more in length. A shotgun is a shoulder weapon having a barrel that is 18 inches or more in length. Rifles and shotguns have an overall length of 26 inches or greater and cannot be concealed on a person.
A manufacturer of firearms or a bona fide dealer in firearms is one duly licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), U.S. Department of the Treasury, under the Gun Control Act of 1968432 Mailability
- Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (referred to as “handguns”) are nonmailable in the domestic mail, except as permitted in Exhibit 432.1 and DMM 601.11.1.
- The disassembled parts of a handgun or other type of nonmailable firearm that can be readily reassembled as a weapon are nonmailable, except as permitted in Exhibit 432.1 and DMM 601.11.1 or 601.11.2.
- Unloaded antique firearms sent as curios or museum pieces are generally permitted, as specified in Exhibit 432.1 and DMM 601.11.2.
- Unloaded rifles and shotguns may be mailed if the mailer fully complies with the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Public Law 90—618) and
18 U.S.C. 921. The mailer may be required to establish, by opening the parcel or by written certification, that the gun is unloaded and not excluded from mailing because of the restrictions in 432.1b and c.
Handguns — e.g., pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person — are nonmailable UNLESS mailed by a licensed manufacturer of firearms, or a licensed dealer of firearms, or an authorized agent of the federal government or government of a state, territory, or district, and ONLY when addressed to a person in one of the following categories for use in the person’s official duties AND upon filing the required affidavit or certificate, as applicable (see DMM 601.11.1.3–7):
Handguns may be mailed without regard to the requirements noted in items a–h if the addressee is the FBI (or its Director) or a scientific lab or crime detection bureau of any agency whose members are federal law enforcement officers, or state, district, or territory officers authorized to serve warrants of arrest or commitment.
Manufacturers or dealers must complete PS Form 1508, Statement by Shipper of Firearms, and file with the postmaster.
The Postal Service may require the mailer to open the parcel or give written certification that the weapon is unloaded and not concealable.
432.2 PS Form 1508
PS Form 1508, Statement by Shipper of Firearms, must be completed by each firearm manufacturer or dealer who deposits firearms for mailing. The form must be filed with the postmaster of the post office of mailing.
432.3 Packaging and Marking
No markings of any kind that indicate the nature of the contents may be placed on the outside wrapper or container of any mailpiece containing firearms. Mailable matter must be properly and securely packaged within the general packaging requirements in DMM 601.1–8.
433 Mailer Responsibility
Even though certain types of firearms are permitted to be mailed within the provisions of the postal law in 18 U.S.C. 1715, it is the mailer’s responsibility to comply with all federal and state regulations and local ordinances affecting the movement of firearms.