David Codrea is looking for some help on looking for a petition for rulemaking on part of ATF which will amend the definition of the term “pistol” in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Looking through all the rulemaking proposals, I couldn’t find any which propose to modify 27 CFR § 478.11, which defines the handgun:

Any firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand

That’s not to say they aren’t planning on proposing a new rule, however.  It might just be that hammer hasn’t fallen yet.  Rulemaking is a process at the federal level for making changes to federal regulations.  It’s the same process we’re currently going through with the Department of Interior on National Park carry.  ATF can’t just change federal regulations willy nilly, but I wouldn’t count on the ATF not just altering their interpretation of existing rule when it comes to the pocket pistol.  It’s not like we haven’t seen that happen before.

6 thoughts on “Reclassification”

  1. Hmmm…

    “Any firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand”

    I need both hands to fire my 10mm 1911. Does that make it not a pistol then? On the other hand, I can easily fire my .22 LR with one hand. Does that make my rifle a pistol then?

  2. They key word is designed. How you grip it is up to you. ATF argues that the addition of a foregrip somehow changes a pistol’s design, and make it an AOW, since you’d obviously use that grip for another hand. It’s silly, since the gun was still designed to be fired by a single hand.

    But ATF would have a hard time arguing that just because you can put two hands on the gun, that it’s something other than a pistol. It wouldn’t stand up in court.

    The rifle definition requires that it is designed to be fired from the shoulder, meaning it has a stock that can reach the shoulder. Interestingly, some mayors legs are considered pistols, because the stock isn’t long enough to reach the shoulder.

  3. Issued this update:

    Matthew Carmel, the recipient of the ATF letter, sent me an email after I posted this informing me the “Proposed change to definition published 70 FR 17624, 17626 (April 7, 2005) will have no effect on the Palm Pistol.”

    I had wondered about that and if there was a newer proposal, because the ATF letter is dated 2008, and says that “the submitted item could be affected.”

    Mr. Carmel tells me that’s because “The 2005 proposed change has not yet been implemented, and may never be. Opportunity for public comment is long gone.”

  4. For the wording on ATF’s proposed rule change go to the Federal Register web-site [ ] and do a search on the word “pistol” in the 2005 register.

    The CFR they wanted to change is 27 CFR 479.11. Apparently the proposed change has yet to go into effect and would/will not have affected the Palm Pistol in question in any case.

    I’m wondering if an ATF proposed rule change (not necessarily this particular proposal) can sit in limbo for an indefinite time and then jump up like an undetected forgotten landmine and take some unsuspecting Federal Firearm Licensee’s legs out from under him. Texas has specific statutes (Code Construction Act) as to how regulations must be changed as well as the time limits involved. The Feds must have similar code construction statutes. Finding the statutes may be a problem as they are more than likely hidden under piles of Washington compost.

  5. Looking at the CFR, it looks to be an attempt to mostly remove the post-ban “Pistols”from the market offered by various manufacturers like Vector etc , that are stockless “pistol” versions of the MP-5 and similar weapons mostly, or the fullsize Uzi pistol with 10″ barrel and no stock, or the Sig 556 pistol.

    Since the AWB sunset brought those types of weapons back without the various weight limits and other ludicrousness, I’m sure there’s somebody unhappy about it.

    No idea on the duration or length of said regulations before enactment if ever – could come out of the sky one day and force owners of these types of weapons to retroactively register like the Destructive Device classification on the Streetsweeper and USAS.

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