Details are emerging from the recent NRA Annual Meeting that the NRA and the ATF have reached a deal regarding the ATF defining an owner of a pistol-grip shotgun as a felon.

Here’s the deal:

1. The ATF will be let off the hook by broadening the "sporting purposes" language and legislatively negating their own determination that millions of heretofore legal pistol-grip shotguns produced over the past decades by companies like Mossberg are "destructive devices."

2. The NRA will get to claim credit for, as one source said, "riding in out of the storm on a white horse and claiming to have saved millions of firearm owners from federal prison, even though," he added, "everybody in the room with an IQ above room temperature understands that politically and legally there is no (expletive deleted) way that ATF can enforce this ruling on anybody. They can’t and they won’t, so…" he concluded, "the NRA will claim to have saved their members from a boogeyman that never really existed."

3. In return for allowing NRA to claim the credit, the Democrats demanded another ammunition import ban on "specialty ammunition," to include tracers. Some sources agreed that this last "gimme" was a "throwaway," in the words of one. "Look, their M.O. is to always demand more than they know they can get in to get the thing they really value. They’d like to get it but what they really covet is knocking a bigger hole in the Constitution by (widening the ‘sporting purposes’ language)… this deal will give them one big enough to drive Diane Feinstein’s limousine through."

Analysis

Question: Are all pistol gripped shotguns about to be NFA destructive devices?

I looked to see if someone had posted an explanation of the ATF screw-up and didn’t see it clearly explained anywhere. Sorry if this is a repeat, but here is what the situation appears to be.

First key point: "Pistol gripped shotguns" are not shotguns under the NFA due to not being designed to fire from the shoulder.

26 U.S.C. § 5845(d): The term "shotgun" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles (ball shot) or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed shotgun shell.

Second key point: All weapons with barrels greater than one-half inch in diameter are destructive devices unless otherwise exempted.

26 U.S.C. § 5845(f): The term "destructive device" means .. any type of 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;

Do you see the ATF screw-up yet?

The problem is that pistol-gripped shotguns have been sold for many years, but the ATF has just realized that NFA defines them as destructive devices. Why is this?

  1. They have a barrel of more than one-half inch in diameter.
  2. They cannot qualify for the sporting purpose exception in 5845(f)(2) since they are not "shotguns" (no shoulder stock).

It appears that back when ATF declared pistol gripped shotguns to not be "shotguns" nobody realized that would eliminate the destructive device exception. Apparently someone has now looked at this more closely and realized that all those Mossberg Cruisers and Pistol Gripped 870s are actually destructive devices and the ATF has no good way out of the situation. Hence, they are quietly looking for some legislative changes to the NFA to make the problem go away.

Also, check out ATF classification compromise to redefine sporting use, ban certain ammo imports

And, The 14inch Mossberg 500 That ISN’T NFA!

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Jerry has been a criminal justice professional for nearly two decades. He is a self-proclaimed Second Amendment scholar, gun rights advocate, and NRA Life Member.