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Definition of a “Firearm” and Why It’s Important to You

After the Chinese invented black powder during the 9th century, they developed the direct ancestor of the firearm, which was the fire lance. It was a portable bamboo or metal tube that used ignited gunpower and could shoot projectiles such as scrap metal, broken porcelain, or darts and arrows. The fire lance was invented in China during the 10th century and is the predecessor of all firearms. Finding the definition what the law considers a “firearm” is relatively easy – just look it up. Generally speaking, firearms are defined as devices that “expel projectiles through the action of an explosive”. To be more specific, according to the bureau of ATF and several other legal sources, the projectiles that are launched by “firearms” are driven by rapidly expanding high-pressure gas that is produced by the combustion of a chemical propellant (i.e. gunpowder). If the pressure to launch the projectile is produced through some sort of mechanical gas compression, versus chemical propellant combustion, then the firing device is technically not a “firearm”. It is considered an air gun, or some other type of non-firearm device capable of launching a projectile, without the force of combustion – “combustion” being the operative word.

All of this is a way of explaining why the ByrnaHD is not considered to be, or regulated as, a firearm. The Byrna does not rely on “combustion”, but rather compressed gas (CO2), for firing its chemically enhanced protective rounds. It is also why we consistently point out, and rightly so, that the Byrna HD is legal virtually everywhere. There are a few areas of the country with some restrictions based on local and state regulations (you can find this information on our site) however, for the most part, you can legally own and carry a Byrna with no special permissions, registration, licensing or other documentation needed.

We often refer to the Byrna HD as a “non-lethal” weapon, and it is. However, we prefer to think of it as a powerful deterrent, that puts weapon-like stopping power in your hands, without the responsibility and liability of a firearm. This is the great appeal of the Byrna HD to many people. It is an excellent device to have in your home, car, RV, etc. It’s also small enough and portable enough to carry with you when walking, hiking, bicycling, and enjoying many other activities.

The fact that Byrna is not classified as a firearm opens up a great personal self-defense option for you, your family, and anyone else whose safety you care about.