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SaltyDog

Black Powder Regulations

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Our group has been doing re-enactment at various festivals which utilize black powder either in our show or for demo purposes. We have been approached by local park/town representatives claiming we need a "black powder permit" in order to carry and/or discharge our pistols. We never carry, nor do we even own any actual ammunition (balls). I have attempted to research this issue via the internet, letters to our local town, police and parks deptartments and even to the ATF with either no response or they do not know. This caused us some consternation at our first Long Island Pirate Festival when a parks dept rep stated we needed such a permit but was unable to provide any details. He just waives his arm and told us to cease and desist.

Does anyone out there have any information on this topic. I do realize it may a regional/local issue which will vary depending on locale but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks...

James B. Hawke

Ye Pyrate brotherhood

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Our group has been doing re-enactment at various festivals which utilize black powder either in our show or for demo purposes. We have been approached by local park/town representatives claiming we need a "black powder permit" in order to carry and/or discharge our pistols. We never carry, nor do we even own any actual ammunition (balls). I have attempted to research this issue via the internet, letters to our local town, police and parks deptartments and even to the ATF with either no response or they do not know. This caused us some consternation at our first Long Island Pirate Festival when a parks dept rep stated we needed such a permit but was unable to provide any details. He just waives his arm and told us to cease and desist.

Does anyone out there have any information on this topic. I do realize it may a regional/local issue which will vary depending on locale but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks...

James B. Hawke

Ye Pyrate brotherhood

BATF will never have regs on whether you can fire BP weapons or not... its not thier area. They regulate the sale and transportation. Not the use.

The pissing contest at LIPF was just that, local low level govt minions had not had thier little egos assuaged enough and so tried to throw monkey wrench into the works. We fired anyway and no one was carted off to the gaol or fined.

Local laws ( town, city , county or state) may require a permit or license to discharge ( i believe Maine has this) BP weapons.

What we do is notify the local police and fire marshall of the intent to fire, and let them tell us if it's OK or not. Or make the venue of record responsible for doing that and obtaining any needed permit, insurance, etc.

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Not to diminish the good informatopn Capt. Thighbiter has shared, but the Muzzle Loading Forum is an amazing place to get information on this type of thing. There are folks from all over the country that would be able to provide regional insights to help you further.

Not living in New York, and not travelling there much, I haven't paid much mind to the situation there, but I seem to hear some buzz on the Muzzle Loading Forum and other 18th century re-enacting forums that New York can be a prickly state for black powder use in re-enactment. Apparently updtate New York is easier going than the areas closer to New York City though.

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Having lived in NY (Long Island), when we did Wild West at a town event, I believe some of your folks attended the street faire for Belmore, NY... we never had a problem carrying black powder weapons. We were always told just to have the event coordinators clear it with their local police. Granted that was going on five years ago and we were close to the police in question. I know a dealer in Long Island, I will give them a call and see what he knows.

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Apparently updtate New York is easier going than the areas closer to New York City though.

Evidently Philly is pretty uptight about those sorts of things too. Or at least the Franklin Institute in Philly is.

However, I would also like to add that the people who dealt with us reenactors were kind beyond words.

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Having just won a big fight with the State Parks here in California and understanding in your case they are talking about carrying BP weapons in addition to firing. It sounds like a local jurisdiction issue. I'd suggest the head of your group contact that park and ask for either the permit paperwork that's need to be completed or the name and number of the person in charge of handing out permits. Then give them a call. Of course, there's also the chance that the officals on site just over reacted and there is no permit.

I can say that when it comes to firing blanks within city limits out here, I have needed to get permits. This has been owing to fire department concerns over fire and not police department concerns over penal code violations.

Good luck!

-Greydog

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Yep, it depends WHERE the discharge will take place. If on county or city or state PARK properties, then you have to follow thier rules and you may be sorry that you ever asked ( can you say liability insurance??).

If on city or on town or county properties, but not a park, - local police or fire marshall whould suffice.

Carrying should never be a problem, since period BP weapons are NOT firearms under BATF regulations and don't let anyone tell you different. Basically BATF describes BP period weapons and Cannon as toys.

BUT make sure your weapon meets BATF regs as far as date of the original weapon ( not yours - the one its made to resemble) and the the other regs.

Hope this helps

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And forget about anywhere in NYC.

FYI, my wife had a little visit by the FBI a few weeks ago, checking out all BP powder sales made into the NYC area thru the internet. We are 40 miles from NYC and she answered all thier questions. When asked about what we use it for, she merely pointed to the Hellion ( our van, festooned with ships wheel, mast, rigging, sail, cannon ports and a new spritsail mast and yard) and our cannons and said, " He's a f....ing pirate, what do you think he does with it". They left.

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You might have to get insurance, which is now being considered for all groups who use blackpowder at events. It covers your butts and the public.

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As far as Liability Insurance goes, our group has always been covered. The main issue as I see it is that when your festival is underway and a little towny or park minion steps up with his chest all inflated spouting off that a permit is required and the local police on site take their side and not ours. Not having an actual document in hand stating the regulations is annoying and getting into a long disertaion with these folks only adds to the fustration.

Captain Thighbighter is correct in that our Long Island Pirate Festival we were able to fire once the park guy left but again it does not resolve any further disputes. As some said, contacting the local police and firemarshalls and obtaining clearance through them would seem prudent but do they actually issue a document you can produce to any authority that may request it at the event?

I know this may sound as if i am going on about this but through all of my research it seems quite odd that no entity has any solid information concerning the use of BP.

And thanks to all here that posted replys and if anyone else has some input please post.

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As far as Liability Insurance goes, our group has always been covered. The main issue as I see it is that when your festival is underway and a little towny or park minion steps up with his chest all inflated spouting off that a permit is required and the local police on site take their side and not ours. Not having an actual document in hand stating the regulations is annoying and getting into a long disertaion with these folks only adds to the fustration.

Captain Thighbighter is correct in that our Long Island Pirate Festival we were able to fire once the park guy left but again it does not resolve any further disputes. As some said, contacting the local police and firemarshalls and obtaining clearance through them would seem prudent but do they actually issue a document you can produce to any authority that may request it at the event?

I know this may sound as if i am going on about this but through all of my research it seems quite odd that no entity has any solid information concerning the use of BP.

And thanks to all here that posted replys and if anyone else has some input please post.

My gut feeling on this issue, (with nothing to back it up, other than experience !), is that many times there really isn't any regulation or permit system in place, but the lower echelon minions feel there there "must be something" on the books that applies to the situation.

The other possibility is the usual poorly worded regulations that are too open to interpretation are sometimes applied for lack of something more concrete by people that like to push their authority. But...... We must always remember that we are playing in someone else's sandbox, and have to do as they say, whether we agree with it or not !!!

>>>> Cascabel

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Amen Cascabel ( BTW was great seeing you at LIPF). BP is poorly understood by the general public and by most if not all public officials.

Hell when I imported my large bronze cannon from the UK, the BATF officials were not even sure what the regs were and I was on the phone with the Maryland, the Boston, the PA and the Washington offices until I got someone willing to put pen to paper for the A-hole customs officer who would not release my bill of lading.

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I've been involved with BP firing demos for a few years, including at National & State Parks, local schools & libraries, and during city events. Here are a few items that you may want to consider for events:

1~ Each weapon must be checked for proper cleanliness and function prior to the first firing of EACH day. I have seen NP Rangers actually suspend rifled muskets by the triggers when at half-cock. Half-cock being the "safety" position. While at half-cock, the hammer shall NOT strike when the trigger is pulled or the hammer is pushed/jarred. Dirty or inoperable weapons are "quarantined".

2~ You need a WORKABLE plan for misfires! NEVER add more powder into the muzzle of a gun that's misfired. We reprime and give ONE more attempt to fire. If the weapon does not discharge, the charge is dumped and the weapon "quarantined" until it has been cleared and reinspected.

3~ ONE person handles the powder and ALL the loading and priming. The ships' gunners did this and we have incorporated it into our firing plan. We have a couple of sets of apostles for just this purpose. This way we can insure that weapons are not carrying too heavy or light a charge. It also ensures that loaded weapons are not being carried around when not firing. Once the weapon is discharged, it is turned back to the gunner's mates if it is to be reloaded.

4~ ALWAYS maintain order when firing. There's nothing more annoying or dangerous than a YAHOO discharging his weapon randomly. Especially in a crowd. There's a time and place for everything!

5~ Never simulate a duel, or close in fight. When doing battle, maintain a safe distance and ELEVATE your aim. NEVER fire towards the crowd...ALWAYS maintain a clear "front".

6~ NO ALCOHOL! Until after the weapons have been cleared, cleaned and secured.

We have never had a problem with getting permission for a firing demonstration, even at public school events. In fact, we have been encouraged to do them. Although once, we were encouraged not to fire out of respect for a student that had lost a family member in Iraq. Again, the key is CONTROLLING the evolution.

The National Park did have a certification for BP, but I can't seem to locate that information. I'll do some checking with some of my CW pards and see what I can find. I'll post it as a reply in this thread once I do.

I hope that this helped.

Davey

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In California there is a licensing program for pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics being defined in the California State health and safety code Title 19. The licenes are issued through the state fire marshal dept. of forrestry. One of the licenses available is a performers lcense which covers the use of black powder and other pyrotechnic devices for stage performance, re enactment, photogrphy and hobbiests. It has been a long while since I have reviewed title 9, however as I remember it, the licenese allows the bearer to take leagal responsibility for the safety of the display. It does not constitute a permit for the display. Permits are isued by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

The AHJ may be the city, the local fire department, the park service or even the county fire authority. You would need to go back to the park service and inquire as to who is the AHJ and then follow through with filling for a permit if necessary. Not all AHJ's require permits or even licensing. For others it is a touchy subject, particulaly if they have a record of accidents in the past.

As far as the BATF is concerned... Their domain is the sale, transportation and storage of pyrotechnic products. They issue individual licensing for all 3 items and do spot ispections on storage facilities to ensure that the product is being stored in a safe manner. They do NOT issue permits for displays.

Hope this helps.

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Wow! That's no fun... :)

We don't seem to get our panties in such a bunch here in Florida. I racked of five rounds powder outside of a park hall for a school reunion a month ago -- no one even blinked.

Our best effort was in Savannah along the water front. Three of us fired (two doglocks, one percussion), thinking they would fire individually. They all fired at the same time, creating a deafening roar, akin to one from our cannon. It bounced off the buildings down the entire river. The convention crowd at the convention we were attending went nuts over it.

In North Carolina at Bald Head's event, the Devil Men of Cape Fear were drunk, firing at will in a thick crowd, and no one seemed to care (Note: We would never do that. They were downright dangerous.)

In our yard, we fire the cannon and guns regularly. No one cares. In Florida (at least in Brevard) it's a noise ordnance issue, nothing else.

No permits. No permission. We just do. Guess we're lucky.

At PiP, all weapons are covered by the park's system. Inspections are the first morning. Then you follow the rules of Harry. Very simple process there... and a great place to play with the guns.

-- Hurricane

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Wow! That's no fun... :)

We don't seem to get our panties in such a bunch here in Florida. I racked of five rounds powder outside of a park hall for a school reunion a month ago -- no one even blinked.

Our best effort was in Savannah along the water front. Three of us fired (two doglocks, one percussion), thinking they would fire individually. They all fired at the same time, creating a deafening roar, akin to one from our cannon. It bounced off the buildings down the entire river. The convention crowd at the convention we were attending went nuts over it.

In North Carolina at Bald Head's event, the Devil Men of Cape Fear were drunk, firing at will in a thick crowd, and no one seemed to care (Note: We would never do that. They were downright dangerous.)

In our yard, we fire the cannon and guns regularly. No one cares. In Florida (at least in Brevard) it's a noise ordnance issue, nothing else. But of course, here fireworks stands are open year round with heavy firepower, as long as you sign a piece of paper that says you're using them for agricultural purposes (that's the only legal use of large mortars that explode a couple hundred feet in the air, it seems).

No permits. No permission. We just do. Guess we're lucky.

At PiP, all weapons are covered by the park's system. Inspections are the first morning. Then you follow the rules of Harry. Very simple process there... and a great place to play with the guns.

-- Hurricane

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From today's (28 September) head-lines in the Norfolk, VA paper and TV:

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/09/isle-wight...war-reenactment

http://www.wavy.com/Global/story.asp?S=9084627&nav=23ii

More to come I'd imagine.

Davey

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Here are a couple of links from today. Apparently .40 caliber is "small" to some. Still, it looks like it comes down to untrained YAHOOs playing with lethal weapons. Prepare for the over-reaction and stricter enforcement.

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/09/sheriff-tr...l-war-reenactor

http://www.wavy.com/global/story.asp?s=908...amp;srvc=latest

http://www.wvec.com/news/topstories/storie...d.c39dd711.html

Davey

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Well, let us all hope that this does not start a butterfly effect and cause more issues. At it stands now, for the next Long Island Pirate Festival I will be overseeing the BP issues. I have included below a document, which was pieced together from various sources, that I wish to utilize. Any comments???

BLACK POWDER REGULATIONS

for

THE LONG ISLAND PIRATE FESTIVAL

JUNE 2009

Any person from an authorized and dually recognized pirate organization, by “Ye Pyrate Brotherhood” or their authorized representative, who wishes to participate in displaying and/or discharging working replica or antique firearms and/or artillery at this event, will read and sign each item on all pages in the presence of a designated “Black Powder Marshall” (BPM), that they understand and will adhere to these rules and general guide lines. It is the responsibility of each individual to follow these rules. These rules and guidelines are for the safety and security of all participants and spectators. Any non-working replica firearms or artillery are not subject to these rules.

Group: ________________________________ Print Name: ______________________________

1. All working replica or antique firearms and artillery pieces are to be surrendered for inspection and inventoried prior to being allowed onsite EACH DAY OF THE EVENT. They are to be fully inspected and approved for use by the appointed Black Powder Marshall for functionality, cleanliness and safety.

Initials ______

2. All working replica or antique firearms must have a fully working lock, serpentine screw or sparking flint. They must have a secure pan cover, the stock is in good repair and barrel firmly seated in the stock.

Initials ______

3. Any firearms or artillery pieces that do not meet the above criteria are to be immediately removed from the event area or dually secured in a locked and secure box and removed from public access and view.

Initials ______

4. All working replica or antique firearms are to be cleaned at the end of each day or after 2 consecutive misfires caused by fouling.

Initials ______

5. AT NO TIME WILL ACTUAL AMMUNITION (BALL) OR OTHER PROJECTILES BE ALLOWED ONSITE. THERE WILL BE NO EXECPTIONS! ANY PERSON FOUND TO BE IN POSESSION OF AMMUNITION (BALL) OR OTHER PROJECTILES WILL BE ESCORTED OFF THE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY. Only soft toilet paper is to be used for wading and the thickness should not exceed the bore of the gun.

Initials______

6. All working replica or antique firearms may be carried on your person for display and educational purposes ONLY in the event that they are they are NOT LOADED. Re-enactors are not to allow the general audience to handle any working replica or antique firearms or artillery even when not loaded.

Initials ______

7. All working replica or antique firearms and artillery pieces are to be loaded and/or discharged only in the designated so called “Free Fire Zone” under the supervision of the Black Powder Marshall (BPM) on duty.

Initials______

8. There is a “Neutral Zone” surrounding the “Free Fire Zone” that is no less than 6 feet wide, separating the general audience from the re-enactors. No firearms are to be allowed in or passed through this area. All participants will enter and exit the “Free Fire Zone” via the designated and marked area.

Initials______

9. There will be, on duty, at all times a designated “Black Powder Marshall” (BPM) overseeing the “Free Fire Zone”. All participants will obey any and all directives and procedures given by them. Any participant that does not follow all directions may be asked to leave and secure their firearms for the duration of the day or event.

Initials______

10. No propellant other than approved commercial black powder will be used. All black powder storage magazines will be properly marked and secured from view. There will be no handling of black powder in the direct view of the general public or spectators except in the “Free Fire Zone”.

Initials______

11. Prior to discharging any firearm or artillery piece the participant with yell “FIRE IN THE HOLE” to notify his or her intention to fire. A firearm or artillery piece will never be aimed at a person or animal and attention will paid to the direction and speed of the wind in order to avoid any backwash of smoke or black powder flash endangering any person or property.

Initials______

12. Any misfires will be identified by yelling “MISFIRE” and brought to the immediate attention of the Black Powder Marshall. The participant will then attempt to safely discharge their firearm or artillery piece. If a second misfire occurs the pan will be cleared and the touch hole un-fouled using the proper pick tool, the flint inspected and pan re-primed with fresh powder and a discharge attempted. If it still will not fire, it will be handed over to the Black Powder Marshall (BPM) where they will attempt to safely discharge the firearm.

Initials______

13. LASTLY, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, ALWAYS TREAT FIREARMS WITH THE RESPECT THEY DESERVE. ALWAYS USE COMMON SENSE WHEN HANDLING ANY FIREARM AND ALWAYS THINK SAFETY FIRST.

Initials______

I HAVE READ AND INITIALED ITEMS 1 THROUGH 13 ABOVE AND UNDERSTAND EACH ITEM AND MY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEM. I WILL ABIDE BY ALL THE ABOVE RULES AND GUIDELINES TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY AND ATTEMPT TO ENFORCE THEM WITH OTHERS FOR THE GENERAL SAFETLY OF ALL.

Group: _________________________________ Print Name: ______________________________

Date: _________________________ Sign: ___________________________________

BPM: _______________________________ Date: _______________________

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I can spot three things that I tend to disagree with. The first is the use of "Fire In The Hole," a phrase not used until the advent of dynamite and its use in mining operations at least 120 years (more of less, I'll look it up later) after our time period. I think that the more appropriate "Giving Fire" works better.

Second, in the "Free Fire Zone" having to call each shot is distracting. A "fire at will" command should be sufficient as all in the zone expect there to be shooting and would have been out of place in a real setting with the exception of cannon that requires that the crew be on the same page. Establishing and maintaining a firing line would prevent anyone from having a shot go off behind them.

Third, some of us do not belong to a "recognized pirate group" but are recognized as individuals. Venues such as PiP allow all shooters with inspected guns and uses strict self policing. Some of the folks who come there have never shot before and are trained there. Would they be allowed to play?

There are also some little spelling and grammar errors that I could address later if you would like.

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I'll agree with Jim... but the formality of the document is a good thing...

Also, many reenactors who do artillery use two phrases to give notice of a gun going off...

First; "Have a care!"

Second; "Give Fire!"

Just that little extra warning...

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As far as wadding goes, I always try to discourage the use of any wadding at all. It is entirely un-necessary, and is actually prohibited at many events. The only time I ever use wadding is if I have to do something requiring carrying a loaded pistol on my belt for use in a scene of some sort. Even then, the wadding is very thin, and only rammed tightly enough to prevent the powder falling out. If a pistol does not fire after several attempts, you only need to point it down to dump the powder out and render it safe. I find that "newbies" only make the mistake of accidentally dumping their powder once. You only need to remember to not point the weapon below the horizontal before firing.

Not using wadding prevents a multitude of possible problems also. Nothing to lie around smoldering, or to make a mess for someone to pick up. Nothing to become an accidental projectile, like an unusually thick wad., no likelihood of a ramrod being fired by being accidentally left in the bore, no need to locate a worm to pull a wad if a piece refuses to fire, no hand injuries from accidental firing while ramming, etc.

>>>> Cascabel

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I like wadding, but I'll agree with Cascabel about the many drawbacks, and the benefits of not.

As for the rules cited above, I seriously suggest adding something about policing the field afterwards. That's one of the things I do religiously, and for a good reason. At the last event, I found three full cartridges on the field after one skirmish, and another later in the day.

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As far as wadding goes, I always try to discourage the use of any wadding at all.

>>>> Cascabel

I agree with all of Cascabel's post based on my 30 years of experience with public display/firing of black powder weapons.

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We don't use wadding either, for cannon or small arms. For the reasons given above.

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