In Pennsylvania, the gun laws (except the laws involving carrying a concealed weapon and laws involving persons who are not to possess firearms) do not apply to antique weapons. An antique firearm is “any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap type of ignition system,” “any firearm manufactured on or before 1898,” or certain replicas of antique weapons. Therefore, in the criminal justice system, sometimes a gun really isn’t a gun.
Commentary: When a gun isn’t really a gun under the law
In Nebraska, federal attorneys had a difficult time prosecuting a defendant for a firearm they discovered after arresting him. Under federal law, a gun is not a “firearm” unless it was manufactured after 1896. Although this situation seems rather odd, it is not rare.