ATF position on pistol grip shotguns creates new danger for gun owners nationwide

(David Codrea)   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:

Certain commercially produced firearms do not fall within the definition of shotgun under the GCA even though they utilize a shotgun shell for ammunition. For example, firearms that come equipped with a pistol grip in place of the buttstock are not shotguns as defined by the GCA.

Here’s another wrinkle, from Mike Vanderboegh at Sipsey Street Irregulars:

An October 27, 2010, letter from the Firearms Technology Branch ruled that such a firearm, with a 17″ barrel and 26-1/4″ overall length, was not subject to the National Firearms Act.

You can click here to read the letter.

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?

The NFA Owners Association points us to the only “legal” definition seemingly available with which to classify these firearms (click on link for “National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, as amended” to open up the text):

[T]aken at face value, a “pistol grip firearm” with a bore diameter larger than 1/2″ in diameter is a “Destructive Device” under the NFA, unless the Attorney General determines that it is “a shotgun . . . generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.” By determining that a “pistol grip firearm” is not a shotgun, it is difficult to understand how current law would not classify such as firearm as a Destructive Device.”

A “Destructive Device”?

“Any weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.” Source: 26 U.S.C, Section 5845(f).

Which means registration on the NFRTR would be required.  But there’s no way to do that retroactively, is there?

Per Vanderboegh:

It appears there are only two solutions: (1) change the law to revert things as they were before ATF made the foregoing rulings, or (2) establish an amnesty period so millions of “Pistol Grip Firearms” can be lawfully registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) system.

Otherwise, he notes:

This action has apparently created millions of unregistered Destructive Devices, currently possessed by millions of law-abiding gun owners who do not realize they now illegally possess unregistered NFA firearms.

That is, depending on what ATF chooses to do next.  Or what they have forced on them.

But certainly this is all hysteria and an unjustified over-reaction to some “poor wording”? Some would counsel us not to worry, broadly assuring:

There’s no way these’ll turn into NFA-controlled guns or suddenly become illegal.

Let’s hope such confidence is well placed, and the final word, and more authoritative than, say, the implications of  ATF Ruling 95-3 (bearing in mind that per ATF, the pistol grip firearms in question are NOT shotguns, so any determination that they are “particularly suitable for sporting purposes” would be irrelevant by their own definition.)

What a confusing mess.

Tomorrow, let’s talk machine gunsLots of machine guns.  Lots of unregistered machine guns.

And ATF knows all about them.

21 Responses to ATF position on pistol grip shotguns creates new danger for gun owners nationwide

  • The Benelli M4 12 ga. which sits by my bed each night has a grip, but do you think I give one single shit what these assholes in Washington think?
    The 2A has NOTHING to do with “sporting”, the 2A is for us to defend ourselves from tyranny.
    Deer & duck hunting are a natural past time for those that are armed.
    As far as I’m concerned they can try to ban masturbation because that is about how much compliance this sick group of bastards will get from any more laws and legal definitions regarding our defensive weapons.

  • Glad I have a 590 mariner I guess. What do we all expect anymore, they will take your guns bit by bit till your only legally allowed a .22 then it will be an airgun. Sad how all are leaders are simply lying followers of a greater evil.

  • They need 2 regulate my hands from taking their regulations from them and shoving them up their buttocks and turning them into a bunch of bureaucratic popsicles.
    “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
    infringe: To encroach on someone or something.
    Who is breaking the law exactly? Put the criminals of government in prison where they belong for BREAKING THE LAW.

  • No government agency taking part in hiding the perps of 9-11 from justice has the right to even use shitter in this country without my expressed permission. Our justice department has bought it. They should move to Benny the Rat’s house or bunk with Chhaalllz at Buckingham. They don’t know their job and they are breaking the law AND the constitution, which is the only thing saving them from the oneway tour off the gangplank. their mewling is hateful to my ears.

  • So now the ATF (idiots) are trying to make legal gun ownership a crime all the while supplying guns to drug running cartels in Mexico and all throughout the southern continent to then use as an excuse to limit your ability to exercise your 2nd amendment right.

    Unbelievable BS..certainly based upon the recent proof of illegally supplying weapons to drug cartels should forever end the criminal ATF agency, and all that run it should be imprisoned.

  • All police and military should turn in their pistol grip shaoguns immediately

  • I feel so much safer!

  • Since when does a government agency get to define law, bordering on making new law?

    I’m not sure if this is smoke for another con job, or a real threat, but either way, I’m not moving.
    They can come and try to make me comply with giving up my freedoms… good luck assholes.

  • Without going into a long explanation, the IRS and ATF are actually the same agency. They, along with the media, put out the impression that they are two completely separate agencies. If you have any doubt about this, whenever the IRS illegally (in ALL cases!) seizes anybody’s property, they immediately turn it over to the director of the ATF. Now, why would that be, if they are two separate agencies?

    And, here’s the real kicker. That single agency is an agency of the Department of Treasury — OF PUERTO RICO!

    You read that right. This is an invasion by a foreign government. If you don’t believe it, then check it out for yourselves. What you find, however, may turn you into a heavy drinker, if you aren’t one already, considering the state of this country.


  • SCREW THOSE GUYS! NO WHERE does the 2nd Amendment say ANYTHING about guns only being legal for “sporting or hunting” purposes!! I don’t give a rat’s ASS what they want to label them as. The whole idea OF the 2nd Amendment is for citizens to be armed in case the government gets out of control. It can’t read any more clear than it does. It says NOTHING about “sporting” or “hunting”, nor does it have the words “unless” or “as long as” in it, for example; the 2nd Amendment does NOT say: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed AS LONG AS the guns they own suit our requirements and/or restrictions, as long as they aren’t black and scary, as long as they don’t hold more than 10 rounds in a detachable magazine, as long as they are only semi automatic, registered, regulated and limited by the very government that they are supposed to be there to fight against if it gets out of control (like they are already doing). When you consider ALL of the gun owners out there, registered, non-registered, sons, daughters, wives, etc. OF those gun owners, you are talking about 140 – 150 million armed US citizens. There aren’t enough cops, military, BATFE, etc., to even ATTEMPT to disarms the gun owners of the US. Just when are the gun owners going to say “enough is enough” and tell those idiots to LEAVE OUR GUNS ALONE or find out what it’s like being on the receiving-end of the 2nd Amendment?!!!

  • complete Bull Shit. If someone wants to commit a crime, theyre not going to go make sure their “GAT” is in compliance with the ATF. I personally wouldn’t have a pistol grip shotgun. It’s not my thing. But, Who am I to Deny the rights of others. If they think they can, Come and get ’em!!!

  • Some pistol grip shotguns also include the stock in the box. So inside the house you use the pistol grip for easier maneuverability and outside you put the stock on it. It takes two seconds to swap.


  • Good. The more unconstitutional laws, acts, definitions and such they create, the more I’ll feel in good conscience defending myself from these tyrants. No skin off my nose. Pass all the BS you want.

  • Blah, Blah, Blah I could give a big wet *%#@ what they think as they talk out of both sides of their donut holes, my pistol grip is by my nightstand next to the Bible, the only authority I know.

  • theyll never get my crossman760 or even my daisey one pump BB gun!!!

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