Georgia Firearm Forums - Georgia Packing banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Seasteading Aficionado
Joined
·
44,896 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An interpretation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that pistol grip shotguns are not shotguns has created an unforeseen legal liability for owners of such firearms. ATF’s Nov. 2009 FFL Newsletter declared:...

That would seem to indicate there’s no issue with violating National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) requirements, right? No worries if you own one, or want to buy one…?

Not so fast. If the pistol grip firearms are not “shotguns,†what are they?
Read the entire article: http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-n ... new-danger

I would especially read it if you own one of these "pistol grip shotguns." You may be in violation of Federal Gun Laws and subject to problems with the ATF.
 

·
Lawyer and Gun Activist
Joined
·
28,312 Posts
So BATF says that if the "shotgun" came from the factory without a shoulder stock of any kind, and only a pistol grip, it's technically not a shotgun at all. Shotguns have to be designed and intended to fire from the shoulder.

If it's not a "shotgun" then it can't be a "sporting shotgun" and get the "sporting shotgun" exception to the rule about how guns with a bore diameter over .50 caliber are "destructive devices."

Conclusion: There's a danger that BATFE will declare your pistol-grip-only shotgun a "destructive device" like it were a cannon, bazooka, anti-tank rifle, etc. And without an amnesty period, they could just start prosecuting people right away. No warning, no notice, just start enforcing "the law" as they have reinterpreted it.

MY TAKE: I suppose BATFE could try this, and with the leftist mass media on their side they could probably avoid the polictial fallout.
But if we are worried about BATFE going evil on us, I have to point out that there are bigger dangers that would affect more guns.

For example, the current method of measuring barrel length includes the chamber. It goes from the muzzle to the breech face of the closed bolt, closed on an empty chamber.
What if BATFE decided that "barrel" only included the part of the bore that the projectile touches on its way out?
Then the chamber would not count. Then your muzzle accessory on the end may not count. What had previously been a 16.1" carbine barrel might now be factually determined to be a 14" barrel. Shotguns have chambers 2.5" long. Your 18.5" shotgun barrel would only be 16" if you didn't count the chamber.
And all BATFE has to do is re-interpret the law and say that they've come to a different and more accurate conclusion than they came to in the past.

P.S. I'd like to hear JRM's take on all of this. He represented a company who was making a product that BATFE specifically approved of one year, and then later changed their mind and said it was an illegal product. So John would know what standards apply when BATF changes its mind and wants to make something illegal that it has always said was legal before.
 

·
Under Scrutiny
Joined
·
19,386 Posts
Well if your trial went to a jury(I know anything could happen there) and your lawyer said that your shotgun was legally sold for X number of years, by one of several large companies, then the ATF just decided all of a sudden to make all owners of these firearms criminals(up standing citizens and all).....I just don't think they could sell it to a jury.
 

·
Yukon Cornelius
Joined
·
11,767 Posts
mountainpass said:
Well if your trial went to a jury(I know anything could happen there) and your lawyer said that your shotgun was legally sold for X number of years, by one of several large companies, then the ATF just decided all of a sudden to make all owners of these firearms criminals(up standing citizens and all).....I just don't think they could sell it to a jury.
and how many people in a jury pool would have the same setup in their home??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
949 Posts
Luckily here in Georgia this would be difficult to enforce. Since we don't register our firearms it would be a laborious process for the ATF to find out who owns one of these pistol grip shotguns. Also, what about people who bought a shotgun with a full stock on it, then replaced it with a pistol grip?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,204 Posts
I don't think mass enforcement is the worry, I'd be more worried about a self-defense use of such a firearm, doing everything legally, and then getting locked up for a "suddenly" illegal firearm that most folks are not going to know was deemed illegal.
 

·
Seasteading Aficionado
Joined
·
44,896 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
JiG said:
I don't think mass enforcement is the worry, I'd be more worried about a self-defense use of such a firearm, doing everything legally, and then getting locked up for a "suddenly" illegal firearm that most folks are not going to know was deemed illegal.
That is correct JiG. I don't think there is any possibility of mass enforcement. I, too, think the problem would be if a homeowner, used one of these "pistol grip" shotguns as someone was tremulously gaining entry into their home, and they shot the person, then LEO show up, then maybe the ATF gets involved, and all the sudden you are in major legal trouble. Not because you used a weapon in self-defense, but because you used an "illegal weapon" in self-defense.

I'm not saying this is really likely or anything, but it does bring about some legal questions.
 

·
Lawyer and Gun Activist
Joined
·
28,312 Posts
1-- Even if they don't actively seek out owners of pistol-gripped shotguns to prosecute, if you have such a thing after it's declared to be illegal it's a huge risk for you. For example, would you take it to the shooting range? Would you talk about it on the internet or post pics here? What if you were taking to the woods to do some plinking at empty Coke cans and you got pulled-over for speeding and the cop saw that shotgun in the back seat and remembered something about the feds changing the law on them?

2-- If you were put on trial, I'm not sure you would have the right to go into detail about how BATF changed their mind about the law. That could be viewed as irrelevant. Just like if you ask a cop if doing something is OK and the cop says "sure, no law against that!" and later some other cop in the same department arrests you. What the first cop told you has ZERO legal effect. Mistake of the law, even a well-founded and totally innocent mistake, is never an excuse. Since this information about WHY you were mistaken about the law is legally irrelevant, it can be excluded by the trial judge at the prosecution's request.

(P.S. We need to change the laws or amend the constitution to give both the prosecution and defense more power to present what evidence they think is relevant to the jury. And juries should also be informed of the seriousness of the crime and the possible punishment available before they are asked to convict.)
 

·
Under Scrutiny
Joined
·
19,386 Posts
gunsmoker said:
2-- If you were put on trial, I'm not sure you would have the right to go into detail about how BATF changed their mind about the law. That could be viewed as irrelevant. Just like if you ask a cop if doing something is OK and the cop says "sure, no law against that!" and later some other cop in the same department arrests you. What the first cop told you has ZERO legal effect.
I don't think that example is relevant in this instance.
 

·
Lawyer and Gun Activist
Joined
·
28,312 Posts
Well, think about all the legally-recognized defenses to a felony prosecution for possession of contraband.
Now try to identify which one of them would be aided and furthered by your introduction of evidence that before a certain date and prior to a certain BATFE ruling, the thing you possessed was not considered contraband, but after those dates it was.
And you're on trial for possessing it AFTER the date BATFE ruled it was contaband. Not before.
So what you want to call "evidence for the defense" is really.... what? Not evidence that supports any valid defense the law would recognize.

Unless you just challenge the validity of the law itself, on purely procedural grounds, invoking administrative law doctrines, separation of powers, delegation of Congressional authority, the Second Amendment, etc. Then you'd be basically admitting to all the facts of the case and only disputing the interpretation of the law.
That's a risky strategy.
 

·
Senior Mumbler
Joined
·
6,516 Posts
The difference is that in your example of something else, an actual law would of been changed. In the BATFE instance, it would just be an opinion that changed. An opinion can be challenged and in doing so, you can bring up the fact that their opinion was different in the past.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top