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Utah Gun Shop Suit Proceeding

Looks like the lawsuit against a gun shop which sold the shotgun to the Trolly Square shooter is proceeding.  Seems it was a pistol grip shotgun, which is a pistol, which means you have to be 21 to buy one from a dealer.  The Trolly Square shooter was 18.  Remember all the noise they made about PLCAA preventing lawsuits against dealers who sold guns illegally?   Another bit of hysteria that turns out to have been untrue.

UPDATE: And in the commentary, we have yet some more confusion between gun owners about whether a pistol grip shotgun is a shotgun or a pistol.  If you shorten it, is it an SBS, or AOW?  I think it’s an AOW right?  Might depend on whether it ever had a shoulder stock.  I think.  Not entirely sure.  And the Bradys would like to tell us this industry isn’t regulated enough.

16 Responses to “Utah Gun Shop Suit Proceeding”

  1. SayUncle says:

    ‘Seems it was a pistol grip shotgun, which is a pistol’

    Actually, I think that makes it shotgun per the legal definition. After all, try putting a pistol grip on a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches and go pay a visit to the local ATF office with it.

  2. Maxpwr says:

    Thanks for the info. Sucks to be the gun dealer in this case, but they need to follow the law.

    Technically, a pistol grip shotgun isn’t a pistol either, it just isn’t a “shotgun” intended to be fired from the shoulder as defined.

    Therefore, it just falls under the definition of a Title 1 firearm and the BATFE has decided this means that it can’t be sold to 18 year olds.

  3. Tom says:

    Man, this is one of those cases that if the right judge got a hold of could roll back some stupidity.

    Either the thing takes shotgun shells or it’s not a shotgun.

    From the mossberg 500 wiki Special purpose models may be equipped with a standard shoulder stock, a “Speedfeed” stock that holds 4 additional rounds of ammunition, or a pistol grip stock. Special purpose models come with plain barrels (no vent rib) with bead sights or ghost ring sights. Some bead sighted models may include heat shields.

    OK, so they can be “equipped” with a stock or a pistol grip. Somehow, magically, with a pistol grip they become something else. God I hope for someone with a couple braincells to rub together gets this case. Are there restrictions on who can buy a PISTOL GRIP to replace a stock with? You think that would have made ANY difference. Jesus Christ these people make my blood boil…can you boil theirs for me? Pretty please.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Shotgun. 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 ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

    From the US Code and CFR. Definition of an SBS is:

    A shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length, and any weapon made from a shotgun, whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise, if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches.

    But short pistol grip shotguns are AOWs under the NFA right? Otherwise I would think the Serbu Super Shorty would be an SBS rather than AOW. I’m pretty sure in order to be an SBS, it would have to have had a shoulder stock on it at some point. If you shorten a pistol grip shotgun, that’s always been a pistol grip shotgun, it becomes an AOW.

  5. Tom says:

    So then this pawnshop was transferring AOWs? BULL!

    Yes, I am well aware of what you cited. That’s precisely why I said what I did, if this goes to a judge with an ounce of gray matter this gets heaved out.

    The thought of the stock, held on by one bolt changing a shotgun into something not a shotgun even thought every other piece of it is identical is like saying getting the 15″ alloy wheels turns your car into something else.

    This kind of stupidity is infuriating!

    If a stock had broken and it had been sold without it, could you tell which way it originally came?

    Are records kept of serial numbers?

    If it had originally been sold with a stock and had an aftermarket pistol grip swapped would that magically change its designation?

    If I bought a pistol grip shotgun at age 21, removed that and added a full stock could I sell it to someone 18?

    Did the murdering bastard fill out his AOW paperwork?

    What’s the official NRA stance on this witch hunt?

  6. Sebastian says:

    Definition of AOW is different. That’s found in the Internal Revenue Code:

    The term “any other weapon” means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

    The concealability requirement is probably where ATF derives its authority to say that under a certain number of inches, it’s an AOW. Presumably the gun the Utah pawnbroker sold was not an AOW. ATF’s take seems to be that a pistol grip shotgun is a pistol as long as it’s over 26 inches in overall length and has a barrel greater than 18 inches.

  7. Chris Byrne says:

    no, it isn’t either a pistol or an AOW. It is a legal shotgun under any coherent legal definition.

    It was manufactured, assembled, and transferred as a long gun, and is lawfully a shotgun; because its first state of final assembly was a configuration with a barrel over 18″ in length, and a total length of 26″ or more, and it has provision for a shoulder stock.

    Even if a shoulder stock isn’t fitted, it’s not a pistol, SBS, or AOW.

    It’s all in the Thompson Center case.

  8. Sebastian says:

    ATF has asserted that if it starts life as a rifle or shotgun, meaning it has a shoulder stock, if you affix a pistol grip to it, then it’s still a rifle or shotgun, meaning if you cut the barrel down under 16 inches for a rifle and 18 inches for a shotgun, it’s an SBR or SBS. By the same token, if putting the pistol grip on the rifle or shotgun gives it an overall length less than 26 inches for a rifle, or 28 inches for a shotgun, it’s an SBR or SBS.

    If it starts life as a pistol gripped shotgun, if you cut it down to under 26 inches overall length, then it’s an AOW.

    If you just bought the receiver, and assembled your own, that’s a grey area. ATF would probably argue if you first assembled it as a rifle or shotgun, then it’s a rifle or shotgun for life… so you would not be able to subsequently convert it into a pistol.

    I have no idea what the official NRA position is on this, since I don’t speak for them. But it’s my opinion that this patchwork of law is stupid.

  9. Chris Byrne says:

    Oh and Sebastian let’s not forget it may or may not be an AOW if you have a pistol grip and a vertical foregrip; depending on how the ATF is interpreting it’s regulations today, and what jurisdiction you’re in.

  10. Sebastian says:

    Chris,

    I could be wrong, but I thought that ATF still asserts a lot of that stuff despite Thompson, and holds that the case was limited to just possessing the parts. In other words, you can have the parts to do it, and not be guilty of having an unregistered SBR, as long as you don’t put a 10 inch Thompson barrel onto a receiver with a shoulder stock. If you had a pistol receiver to take the 10 inch barrel, the fact that it was interchangeable with the should stock receiver wasn’t a problem for SBR purposes, as long as you didn’t actually interchange them.

  11. Chris Byrne says:

    Yes, that’s right. So long as the weapon is never assembled in a configuration that would by itself violate the law (such as a 14″ barrel and a shoulder stock), then you are not violating the law by possessing those parts (which is called constructive possession).

    However, this only applies to configuration changes of a weapon; at least as the ATF chooses to interpret it.

    You can still be considered guilty of constructive possession for merely owning an unregistered auto sear, and an AR reciever for example; even if they were never assembled into a machine gun.

    What I was referring to specifically above, was the Tenessee case, where the circuit court decided that if a weapon was manufactured with two handgrips and either no shoulder stock or a short barrel, then it WAS an AOW; but if the vertical foregrip was added as an accessory and could be removed, then it wasn’t an AOW.

    This ruling prompted the ATF to issue several contradictory memorandums of understanding; and is being appliced differently in different federal circuits and field districts.

    To my knowledge there is really no resolution as to the legal status of weapons with two vertical grips, a long barrel, and no shoulder stock, if they were originally manufactured in that configuration. It is commonly held that such weapons are classified as whatever they were classified when they originally reached final assembley, under the Thompson decision; and that by the currently promulgated definition, they would legally be long guns not AOW.

    Weapons with two vertical grips, no shoulder stock, and a short barrel, are definitely considered AOWs, provided their first state of final assembly was in that configuration; however they are also in an unclear legal state if their first state of final assembly was a legal pistol.

  12. Tom says:

    ignorance of the law is no excuse…

    Shotgun. 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 ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

    If you don’t fire from the shoulder does it cease to be a shotgun?

    If the receiver IS the firearm, and was designed to be fixed with a full stock, but a pistol grip was added instead does it cease to be a shotgun?

    Does the use of a chamber insert to fire centerfire rifle or pistol rounds make it not a shotgun?

    Does putting lipstick on a pig….

  13. Sebastian says:

    If you don’t fire from the shoulder does it cease to be a shotgun?

    The law says intended. It doesn’t require you to fire it from the shoulder.

    If the receiver IS the firearm, and was designed to be fixed with a full stock, but a pistol grip was added instead does it cease to be a shotgun?

    I don’t think a receiver is designed to be fitted with a stock if you can also fit it with other things. But if it’s a pistol grip shotgun, and it’s under 26 inches overall length, it’s an AOW by regulation, and it appears ATF says it’s a pistol if it’s over 26 inches, based on the definition of a pistol.

    My understand is that if it’s a shotgun, meaning it started life with a stock, and you put a pistol grip on it, that’s fine, as long as it’s over 28 inches overall, and 18 inches from bolt face to the barrel. If it’s under those dimensions, it’s an SBS.

    The key is what it started its life as. I don’t know of any case where a home builder has been busted for manufacturing an NFA item, but ATF would probably argue that when you bought the receiver, and affixed either a stock or pistol grip, you then “manufactured” either a shotgun or a pistol grip shotgun, and have to take care not to ever make it into an SBS in the case of a shotgun, and an AOW in the case of a pistol grip shotgun. If you made a pistol grip shotgun an AOW, you’d have to take care never to attach a stock because you’d potentially be making an SBS, depending on the length of the barrel.

  14. Dave says:

    None of those byzantine rules and designations have any fundamental effect on the lethality of the weapons in question. Expecting the laws of the land to be logical or reasonable is too much to ask these days.

  15. Sebastian says:

    No, they don’t. The AOW law was originally meant to cover handguns. The NFA exempted handguns, but the AOW language was left in. You get these silly rules because there are too many competing definitions. It’s not the only area in law where this happens.

    So a shotgun with an 18.1 inch barrel is fine, and one with a 15.9 inch barrel is a dangerous death machine that needs to be heavily regulated. A 16 year old girl is old enough to make decisions about having sex, and a 15 year old and 11 month girl is not, and has to be protected from her own poor young judgment. It’s silly, but the law will tend to draw those lines.

  16. FTNuke says:

    Just wanted to add a little more amateur legal advice to this discussion. I live in Hawaii, where you need to get a permit and wait 2 weeks to buy a pistol, but you don’t need to wait at all for a long gun if you already have the generic long gun permit. I bought a Mossberg 500 with pistol grip back in October, and did not need a pistol permit to do so. All guns have to be registered with the police department, and when I took the shotgun in it was registered as a long gun, not a pistol. Not that this proves one way or the other what the BATFE will decide is or is not a pistol, but it is a good example of how even in a state with onerous firearms regulations there is no misunderstanding about what makes a shotgun a shotgun.
    Oh, and it was murder to shoot that thing with the pistol grip on, so it has been replaced by a Speedfeed stock, good thing the police here aren’t confused by grip swaps.

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