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topic 14123

Laws on black powder cannons


I am currently facing charges that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for firing 2 black powder cannons that I made myself. I believe the charge is illegal use of an explosive device. Can someone please give me some insight on the laws governing the use of these cannons.

Keith S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Little Falls, Minnesota


Hello Keith. This is a metal finishing website where topics sometimes wander afield a bit, but you need to be talking to a lawyer, not to me.

But since your letter is already here, a personal anecdote that may be helpful: I was serving on the grand jury a couple of years ago. Possession of a BB gun was, second to drug charges, probably the most common felony charge. So, I spent every Monday morning in court for 16 weeks, where the prosecutor asked for and got felony indictments on this charge every day.

Then one afternoon during this jury service, my son and a friend are playing outside, and another kid shoots the boys with a BB gun. No harm was done but I confiscate the BB gun and call the police --wanting to get rid of this thing. The dispatcher says (paraphrasing): "Keep it. If the kid misused it, don't return it to him". I say, no, I don't want it. So the dispatcher says "Fine, sir, throw it in the garbage." I say I'm not putting a firearm in my garbage, so he tells me to drop it at the police station. I insist that I'm not driving around with a firearm, and that they send an officer around to pick it up: "It's a TOY, sir.". Only after I insist, time and again, and the police probably have a good chuckle about this totally paranoid citizen, did they finally send an officer around to pick it up.

The point being that in my state a BB gun is considered a toy under most conditions, but can get you a felony indictment under other conditions--a situation that gives the officer and the prosecutor latitude to indict whoever they choose.

I can't say that a cannon in your state is exactly analogous to a BB gun, but if there is no other issue, a lawyer may be able to instantly do more for you than you could imagine. Call him/her immediately!

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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