We’d be wrong. According to Len Savage of Historic Arms LLC, quoted by David Codrea at The War on Guns, the three guns are, from top to bottom:
- A gun that was once made with a shoulder stock and longer barrels. It is a “Short Barreled Shotgun” that has a $200 transfer tax, and takes most of a year (at the speed of bureaucracy) for the transfer paperwork.
- A gun that was made from the beginning in the pistol form factor. It is “Any Other Weapon” under the NFA. It has a $5 transfer tax, and takes most of a year (at the speed of bureaucracy) for the transfer paperwork.
- A gun that has some vestige or simulacrum of rifling in the barrel… this is a pistol under the law, and a Title 1 firearm that does not fall under the NFA at all. It can be sold over counter at any FFL, and the buyer can walk out with it, except in states like California where one of the “sickeners” that politicians and criminals impose on lawful owners is a waiting period.
Len asks if this makes any sense. Of course it doesn’t make any sense, it’s the law.
Criminals often use weapons like this which they make themselves from shotguns, usually with hand tools, and crudely.
While this is the exact NFA violation that the provisions in the law were placed there for, a violent criminal unlawfully obtaining a deadly, concealable, and menacing weapon, in almost every jurisdiction in the USA the ATF does not pursue violent criminal violators of the NFA relative to short-barreled weapons.
Why not? Because the experienced criminal investigators know that if they complete the case and present it to the US Attorney’s Office all tied up in a bow with slam-dunk evidence of every element of the crime, the AUSA will still decline it. The US Attorneys don’t want to jail violent street criminals, they want the ATF out there chasing paperwork errors by licensees. An AUSA gets much more attorney cred for nailing some gun dealer or importer on a transposed serial number on a form (or, one of ATF’s favorites, the end purchaser putting down the wrong county of residence by mistake), than he;d ever get just locking up another ho-hum gang member (who just turned to crime because he’s a misunnerstood minority, depraved on account of he’s deprived).
Three guns. All look extremely similar. All have the same tactical value (which, for anything but fooling around or knocking over a liquor store, is nil). One you can buy and walk home with (and even carry, if local law allows); the other two are ten-year, $10,000-fine felonies if they were done without doing the Form 1 paperwork (including the 8 months to a year wait) first. Without a Form 1, the other two are contraband, and there’s no way ever to make them not contraband, once the modification is made unlawfully.
Why hasn’t the law been reformed, if it’s this illogical? Perhaps because no one wants to give the ATF and the politcians a chance to mess with it; it’s the mess it is now because of the unintended consequences of well-meant meddling, after all.
This post first appeared on weaponsman.com
WeaponsMan is a blog about weapons. Primarily ground combat weapons, primarily small arms and man-portable crew-served weapons. The site owner is a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S).