Repository of Historical Gun Laws

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  • Text: Prescriptions, (1651) § 2. And it is further ordered; that no person (except for the defence of themselves and their vessels at Sea) shall transport any gunpowder out of this jurisdiction, without license first obtained from some two of the Magistrates, upon penalty of forfeiting all such powder as shall be transporting or transported, or the value thereof.
    Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
    Year: 1651
  • Text: A letter from Governor Clinton to the Lords of Trade. . . . I have taken every other precaution in my power to guard against my surprise by sending circular orders to the respective Colonels of Militia and to the Captains of his Majesty’s Companies posted in this province to inspect the Arms and Accoutrements of their men, and see that they are in good order and fit for immediate service, and that as often as conveniently may be they do exercise the men in arms keeping strict discipline, whereby they may be able not only to repel the French Forces , if this Province should be attacked by them, but to be also in condition if necessary, to attack them, pursuant to Mr. Stones letter to me of 3rd September last by order of their Excellency’s the Lords Justices, for which end I have issued the enclosed proclamation to forbid the exportation of gun powder, or the applying the French with any kind of provisions warlike stores, or merchandise.
    Jurisdiction: New York
    Year: 1744
  • Text: An Act for Encouraging the Manufacture of Salt Petre and Gun Powder. . .Be it enacted, That no salt petre, nitre or gun-powder made and manufactured, or that shall be made and manufactured in this Colony, shall be exported out of the same by land or water without the license of the General Assembly or his Honor the Governor and Committee of Safety, under the penalty of twenty pounds for every hundred weight of such salt petre, ntire or gun-powder, and proportionately for a greater or lesser quantity so without license exported; to be recovered by bill, plaint, or information, in any court of record in this Colony by law proper to take cognizance thereof. . . Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no powder-mill shall be erected in this Colony for the manufacture of gun-powder without the license of the general assembly, or in their recess the Governor and Council, first had and obtained under the penalty of thirty pounds for every such offence; to be recovered as the other forgoing personalities in this act are above directed to be recovered.
    Jurisdiction: Connecticut
    Year: 1775
  • Text: An Act for the Inspection of Gunpowder, Manufactured within this State (1776). Be it enacted by this General Assembly, and by the authority thereof, it is enacted, that if any person or persons, within this state, shall vend or expose to sale any gunpowder, manufactured within the same, unless said gunpowder be packed in a good dry cask, marked with the two first letters of the manufacturer’s name, and hath been examined and approved by the inspector of gunpowder, for said state, and by him marked with the letters U.S.A., and such other marks as are necessary to distinguish the several sorts of gunpowder: the person or persons so offending shall forfeit and pay £6 lawful money, for every cask so exposed to sale; to be recovered by bill, plaint or information, upon conviction before any court of record within this state; which forfeiture shall one moiety thereof be given to the informer, and the other be paid in to the general treasury of the state. And be it further enacted by the authority, aforesaid, that the said inspector be paid out of the general treasury nine-pence, lawful money, for every cask so marked and inspected by him.
    Jurisdiction: Rhode Island
    Year: 1776
  • Text: That any Person who, from and after the Publication of this Act, shall offer any Gun-Powder for Sale, without being previously inspected and marked as is herein after directed, shall forfeit, for every such Offence, the Sum of Five Shillings a Pound for every Pound weight so offered for Sale, and so in Proportion for greater or lesser quantity[.]
    Jurisdiction: New Jersey
    Year: 1776
  • Text: Whereas gun-powder imported from abroad, and manufactured within this state, have frequently been found to vary much in its strength, and sometimes of inferior qualities, and its defects not discovered until brought into actual use: And whereas the modes heretofore used to prove the force thereof have been found uncertain and variable; and whereas Joseph Leacock, of the city of Philadelphia, hath invented an engine, called a pendulum powder proof, with a graduated arch and catch-pall, by which it is conceived that the force of gunpowder may be proved by experiment, and the article reduced to certain and uniform standards of strength, whereby the manufacture may be advanced towards ultimate perfection, and the purchaser and consumer protected against fraud and imposition. § 1. . . That from and after the first day of October next, all gun-powder manufactured within this state, with intent to sell the same within the city or county of Philadelphia, shall be put in good and tight kegs or casks of twenty-five, fifty, or one hundred pounds neat weight, each made of well seasoned timber, bound together with at least twelve hoops, and having a hole bored in each head, of hte diameter of one fourth part of an inch, well stopped with corks, and having the tare weight to each cask marked thereon, and that all such gun powder, and all other gun-powder, wheresoever manufactured, imorted into the port of Philadelphia, or brought into the city or county of Philadelphia for sale, shall be deposited forthwith on such importation or bringing by land or by water, in the public magazine in the said city, and delivered to the care of the keeper of the same, who shall give his receipt for the same, deliverable to the order of him or them who shall so deposit the same. § 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That David Rittenhouse, Francis Gurney and Thomas Procter be, and they are hereby, appointed Commissioners, to procure at least two pendulum powder proofs, upon the construction invented by the said Joseph Leacock, as nearly uniform in the length of the radius and weight of the pendulum, and in length of caliber and weight of the pistol, as they can procure the same, and therewith make experiments of the respective strenght or force of of the several species of gun-power imported from abroad, and manufactured within this state, sufficient in number to assertain the quality and force of three different degrees of strength in explosion, and marking the number of degrees on the graduated arch of hte said engine, to which equal quantities be weight of the said three species of gun-powder, rammed with equal force into the pistol, shall elevate the said pendulum; and hte powder which shall be barely capable of raising the said pendulum to the lowest rate of elevation, shall be standard for hte state of Pennsylvania for gun powder of the first or lowest proof; and hte powder which shall be capable of raising hte said pendulum to hte highest rate of elevation, shall be the standard of gun-powder for the State of Pennsylvania for the third or highest proof; and the middle or second proof standard of gun-powder shall be ascertained by the number of degrees of the said graduated arch, to which the same quantity of weight in equal moieties of the first and third proof powder shall be capable of raising the said pendulum; and the said standard being fixed and ascertained, the said Commissioners shall make report thereof in writing, by indentures under their hands and seals, on part thereof, together with one of the said pendulum powder proofs, and as accurate a draft and description thereof as can be made shall be returned to the Governor, to be filed and remain in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, on other part shall be returned to the master of the Rolls, to be recorded in his office, and filied among the laws of the state and the otehr part together with the other pendulum powder proofs, shall be delivered to the first inspector of gun powder to be appointed in pursuance of this act, and by him, and his successors in office, to his and their succesors, as often as another officer shall be appointed.
    Jurisdiction: Pennsylvania
    Year: 1794
  • Text: An Act providing for the inspection of Gun-powder. Whereas gun-powder imported from abroad and manufactured within this state, hath frequently been found to vary much in its strength, and sometimes of inferior qualities, and its defects not discovered until brought into actual use: and whereas the modes heretofore used to prove the force thereof have been found uncertain and variable: and whereas Joseph Leacock, of the city of Philadelphia, hath invented an engine, called a pendulum powder proof, with a graduated arch and catch-pall, by which it is conceived that the force of gun-powder may be proved by experiment and the article reduced to certain and uniform standards of strength, whereby the manufacture may be advanced towards ultimate perfection , and the purchaser and consumer protected against fraud and imposition: § 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of October next, all gun-powder manufactured within this state, with intent to sell the same within the city or county of Philadelphia, shall be put in good and tight kegs or casks of twenty-five, fifty, or one hundred pounds neat weight , each made of well seasoned timber, bound together with at least twelve loops, and having a hole bored in each head with the diameter of one fourth part of an inch, well stopped with corks and having the tare weight (weight of the actual keg or cask) of each cask marked thereon, and that all such gun-powder, and all other gun-powder, wheresoever manufactured imported into the port of Philadelphia, or brought into the city or county of Philadelphia for sale, shall be deposited, forthwith on such importation or bringing by land or by water, in the public magazine in in the said city, and delivered to the care of the keeper the same, who shall give his receipt for the same, deliverable to the order of him or them who shall deposit the same. § 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That David Rittenhouse, Francis Gurney, and Thomas Procter be, and they are hereby, appointed commissioners, to procure at least two pendulum powder proofs, upon the construction invented by the said Joseph Leacock, as nearly uniform in length and radius and weight of pendulum, and in length of caliber and weight of the pistol, as they can procure the same, and therewith make experiments of the respective strength or force of the several species of gun-powder imported from abroad and manufactured within this state, sufficient in number to ascertain the quality and force of three different degrees of strength in explosion, and marking the number of degrees on the graduated arch of the said engine, to which equal quantities of weight of the said three species of gunpowder, rammed with equal force into the pistol, shall elevate the said pendulum; and the power which shall be barely capable of raising the said pendulum to the lowest rate of elevation, shall be the standard for the state of Pennsylvania for gun-powder of the first or lowest proof; and the powder which shall be capable of raising the said pendulum to the highest rate of elevation, shall be the standard of gunpowder for the state of Pennsylvania of the third or highest proof; and the middle or second proof standard of gun-powder shall be ascertained by the number of degrees on the said graduated arch, to which the same quantity by weight in equal moieties of the first and third proof powder shall be capable of raising the said pendulum; and ht said standard being so fixed and ascertained, the said commissioners shall make report thereof in writing, by indentures under their hands and seals, one part thereof, together with one of the said two pendulum powder proofs, as accurate a draft and description thereof as can be made shall be returned to the Governor, to be file and remain the office of the Secretary of the commonwealth; and one other part shall be returned to the Master of Rolls, to be recorded in his office, and filed among the laws of the state; and the other part, together with the other pendulum powder proofs, shall be delivered to the first Inspector of gun-powder to be appointed in pursuance of this act, and by him, and his successors in office, to his and their successors, as often as another officer shall be appointed. . . § 6. And by it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall be the duty of the inspector of gunpowder so to be appointed, for the time being, to attend at the aid public magazine, and his office so to be built, as often as shall be necessary, to inspect and examine all gunpowder there to be deposited, to draw samples form each cask of powder which shall be so as aforesaid bored, and to open or otherwise get samples of casks of powder not bored as aforesaid, and removing such samples to his office, there to prove the same b the pendulum proof aforesaid, and note the standard quality of each cask, to provide himself with cedar plugs stamped on the outer end with the letters S.P. and the figures number one, number two, and number three, so designate the first, second and third proofs of standard gunpowder of the state of Pennsylvania, and another stamped with letters S.P. to designate condemned gun-powder, and therewith carefully to plug up the holes opened or made for the purpose with such marked plugs, as the proof quality of the powder in each cask respectively contained, and occasionally to weight the said casks; and if upon weighing the same suspicion shall arise that he casks are false tared, or do not contain the quantity herein above mentioned for each cask, to empty the same, and weigh the cask and powder separately, to ascertain the deficiency, if any, in the neath weight, and to fill the same to its due weight out of the other cask belonging to the same person, marking the weight taken on the ullage casks , and keeping an exact account in the books thereof, and of the names of the owners and persons bringing and depositing the same. . . §10. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid That if any person, from and after the first day of October next, importing or bringing into the port or city, or county of Philadelphia, any quantity of gun-powder exceeding twenty-five pounds, with intent to sell the same, shall neglect to deposit the same for inspection in the magazine aforesaid, or shall sell the same before it be inspected and marked as aforesaid, or shall sell any gun-powder that shall be condemned as aforesaid as and for merchantable gun-powder every person so offending shall forfeit all such gunpowder as aforesaid. § 11. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the inspector shall be entitled to demand and receive of and from the owner and possessor of all gun-powder deposited in the said magazine, and by him or his Deputy examine, proved and plugged, as aforesaid, the following sums or rates, whether the same be approved or condemned, paid or secured before the same shall be removed from the magazine; if the Inspector shall so require; for every cask of powder, manufactured in this state, or any of the United States, bored, and stopped with corks by the manufacturer, containing twenty-five pounds neat weight, seven cents; for every like cask containing fifty pounds, eight cents; for every like cask containing one hundred pounds, nine cents; and fore very cask of foreign powder, or powder manufactured in the United States, not bored and stopped with corks as aforesaid, double the said price or rates; and for every cask which shall find deficient one per cent. In weight and shall fill up, fifty cents. § 12. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any dispute should arise between the owner, possessor or consignee of any such powder and the Inspector, touching the proof or condemnation thereof, or the goodness of the materials and manner in which the casks are made, upon application by the owner, possessor or consignee of such powder to one of the Magistrates of the city or county of Philadelphia, where the dispute shall arise, the said Magistrate shall issue this warrant to three indifferent judicious persons to be triers thereof, one of them to be named by the said owner, possessor or consignee, of by the said Inspector, and the third of the said Magistrate shall thereupon give his judgment agreeably to the report of the said triers, or any two of them; ad in case the said Magistrate shall on such reports adjudge the powder not to be merchantable, he shall award the owner, possessor or consignee thereof, to pay all costs; but in the case the said powder shall be found merchantable, the Inspector shall be adjudged to pay all costs, which may have accrued, and shall thereupon cause the powder to be marked as the standard to eb directed by the said triers.
    Jurisdiction: Pennsylvania
    Year: 1795
  • Text: . . . [N]o person or persons whatsoever, shall be permitted within this state to erect or establish, or cause to be erected or established, any manufactory which shall be actually employed in manufacturing gun-powder, either by himself or any other person, either on his own land or another, within the distance of a quarter of a mile from any town or village or house of public worship; or within the distance of a quarter of a mile from any dwelling house, barn or out house, without the consent under hand and seal of all and every the owner or owners of such dwelling house, barn, or out house as aforesaid; and any person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be fined any sum not exceeding two thousand dollars: Provided, that nothing in this section shall be so construed as to prevent the completing, rebuilding or repairing any powder mill now erected or erecting in this state on the site on which the same shall be now erected or erecting.
    Jurisdiction: New Jersey
    Year: 1811
  • Text: ...from and after the passing of this act, all musket barrels and pistol barrels, manufactured within this Commonwealth, shall, before the same shall be sold, and before the same shall be stocked, be proved by the person appointed according to the provisions of an act . . . with a charge of powder equal in weight to the ball which fits the bore of the barrel to be proved . . . § 2. That if any person of persons, from and after the passing of this act, shall manufacture, within this Commonwealth, any musket or pistol, or shall sell and deliver, or shall knowingly purchase any musket or pistol, without having the barrels first proved according to the provisions of the first section of this act, marked and stamped according the provisions of the first section of the act to which this is an addition . . .
    Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
    Year: 1814
  • Text: § 1. [T]he Governor . . . is hereby authorized to appoint an inspector of gunpowder for every public powder magazine, and at every manufactory of gunpowder in this state, and such other places as may by him thought to be necessary[.] § 2. [F]rom and after the first day of July next, all gunpowder which shall be manufactured within this state shall be composed of the following proportions and quality of materials . . . § 3. It shall be the duty of each of said inspectors to inspect, examine and prove all gunpowder which after the first day of July shall not be deposited at any publick [sic] powder magazine, or manufactory of this state . . . § 4. [N]o gunpowder within this state shall be considered to be of proof unless one ounce thereof, placed in a chamber of a four and an half inch howitzer, with the howitzer elevated so as to form an angle of forty-five degrees with the horizon, will, upon being fired throw a twelve pound shot seventy-five yards at the least. § 5. [W]henever any of said inspectors shall discover any gunpowder, deposited at any public powder magazine, or any other place within this state, which is not well manufactured or which is composed of impure materials . . . the inspector in such case, shall mark each cask containing such impure, ill manufactured, or deficient gunpowder, with the word "Condemned" on both heads of the cask . . . § 6. [I]f any person shall knowingly sell any condemned gunpowder . . . every such person, so offending, shall forfeit and pay not less than two hundred nor more than five hundred dollars . . . § 7. [E]ach inspector . . . be sworn to the faithful and impartial discharge of the duties of his office, and each inspector shall be allowed one cent for each pound of gunpowder, by him examined, inspected and proved . . . to be paid by the owner or owners of the gunpowder. § 8. [I]f any manufacturer of gunpowder shall sell or dispose of, or shall cause or permit to be sold or disposed of, or shall export or cause to be exported withou the limits of this state, any powder of his manufacture, before the same has been inspected and marked agreeably to the provisions of this act, he shall forfeit and pay the sum of fifty cents for every pound of powder so sold, disposed of, or exported, to be recovered in the manner provided in the sixth section of this act. § 9. [I]f any person with within this state . . shall knowingly sell, expose, or offer for sale, within this state, any gunpowder which is not well manufactured, or which is composed of impure materials, and which shall not be composed of the proof herein before required, shall forfeit and pay not less than five dollars nor more than fifty dollars for each and every offence, to be recovered in the manner provided in the sixth section of this act.
    Jurisdiction: New Hampshire
    Year: 1820
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