Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Federal Handgun Importation Criteria

Wednesday, July 28, 1999

In 1968, Congress enacted the Gun Control Act, which included provisions relating to the importation of firearms. As amended, one provision [Title 18 U.S.C. §925(d)(3)] provides that?

"The Secretary [of the Treasury] shall authorize a firearm or ammunition to be imported or brought into the United States or any possession thereof if the firearm or ammunition . . . is of a type . . . generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes. . . ."

During hearings of Subcommittee Number 5 of the House Committee on the Judiciary in April 1967, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Sheldon S. Cohen, explained that the provision "would not, and I emphasize, would not, preclude the importation of good quality sporting type firearms or of military surplus rifles or shotguns particularly suitable for or adaptable to sporting use."

Soon after the 1968 Act, what is now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), Treasury`s agency with regulatory authority over firearm issues, adopted "Factoring Criteria" to be used to determine whether a given handgun is eligible for importation under 925(d)(3). Under the criteria, a handgun must meet certain "prerequisites" and achieve a sufficient number of points under a "point system" which awards points based upon a handgun`s overall length and height (pistols) or frame length and barrel length (revolvers), weight, caliber, frame construction, safety-related features, and miscellaneous equipment such as target sights and grips.

Despite the "sporting language" in 925(d)(3), BATF`s criteria are in some respects weighted against handguns with well-established sporting credentials. As examples, the fact that a handgun uses .22 caliber ammunition earns it relatively few points, though more target shooting is done with .22 caliber handguns than with those of any other caliber. A pistol receives 10 points for having a double-action trigger mechanism, though single-action pistols dominate many long-established target shooting activities. A pistol receives points for having a target trigger and external hammer, though most .22 caliber pistols designed for target shooting do not possess external hammers.

"Gun control" supporters incorrectly claim that the criteria prohibit the importation of only unsafe and relatively inexpensive handguns, which they incorrectly imply are one and the same. (Many relatively inexpensive handguns perform well in durability tests.) As noted, however, "safety features" are but one category addressed in the criteria. Indeed, due to the criteria`s emphasis on the size of a handgun, some handguns with well-established reputations for quality of design and manufacture, such as the relatively expensive Walther PPK, are prohibited from importation. A handgun`s sale price is not a factor determining its eligibility for importation.
Based upon their false assumptions, "gun control" supporters have proposed to adopt the criteria as a rule governing the manufacture of handguns in the U.S. Separately, they have proposed that handguns or, alternately, firearms, be prohibited from manufacture in the U.S. if they would be prohibited from importation for any reason. Among the reasons for opposing such a measure, the BATF does not consistently adhere to the criteria. When directed to do so by the Administration, the BATF has ignored the criteria to prohibit the importation of certain handguns. Further, BATF has never formally adopted criteria for rifles and shotguns and, when directed by the Administration, has prohibited the importation of rifles and shotguns that it had previously approved for importation. Ironically, in 1986, Congress enacted the Firearms Owners Protection Act, which, among other things amended 925(d)(3) to prevent precisely this kind of arbitrary decision-making. Prior to the 1986 Act, the Secretary was permitted to authorize the importation of firearms meeting the federal standard; the 1986 amendment mandated that "the Secretary shall authorize the importation" of eligible firearms. (Emphasis added.)

There are two sections to the factoring criteria, and a handgun must satisfy the requirements of both sections to be eligible for importation.

I. Handgun Size and Safety "Prerequisites"

Pistols: A pistol must have (1) a combined length "not less than 10" with the height . . . at least 4" and the length being at least 6" and (2) "a positive manually operated safety device."

Revolvers: A revolver must (1) have a frame "of 4 1/2" minimum [and] a barrel length of at least 3" and (2) pass a "safety test" consisting of what is commonly referred to as a "drop test."

II. The "Point System"

Pistols: A pistol must earn at least 75 points from the following characteristic areas:

Overall Length For each 1/4" over 6", 1 pt.
Frame Construction If investment cast or forged steel, 15 pts.; if investment cast or forged HTS alloy, 20 pts.
Weight One pt. per ounce; most pistols weigh between 15-40 ounces.
Caliber If between .22 LR and .380 ACP, three pts.; if 9mm or larger, 10 pts.
Safety Features Firing pin block or lock, 10 pts.; locked breech, loaded chamber indicator and magazine safety, 5 pts. each; grip safety, 3 pts.
Misc. Equipment Double-action mechanism, 10 pts.; click adjustble target sight, 10 pts.; drift adjustable target sight, five pts.; target grips, five pts.; target trigger and external hammer, two pts. each.

Revolvers: A revolver must earn at least 45 points from the following characteristic areas:

Barrel length For each 1/4" over 4", 1/2 pt.
Frame construction If investment cast or forged steel, 15 pts.; if investment cast or forged HTS alloy, 20 pts.
Weight One pt. per ounce. Most revolvers weigh between 15-50 ounces.
Caliber If .22 LR and .30 to .38 S&W, three pts.; if .357 Mag. or larger, 5 pts.
Misc. Equipment Adjustable target sights, five pts.; target grips, five pts.; target hammer and trigger, five pts.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Handguns
TRENDING NOW
“Unity” President Vows to “Defeat” America’s Oldest and Largest Civil Rights Group

News  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

“Unity” President Vows to “Defeat” America’s Oldest and Largest Civil Rights Group

Biden issued this “pledge” in a January 8 tweet that falsely tried to suggest the men and women of the NRA were somehow implicated in an infamous crime that was committed a decade ago by ...

Florida Alert! Gun Bills Filed in Florida - SO FAR

Friday, January 15, 2021

Florida Alert! Gun Bills Filed in Florida - SO FAR

As Legislators begin to file bills for the 2021 Florida Legislative Session, we are getting questions about various bills due to media reports on gun bills.  Below is a partial list of bills we will ...

Double-Standard: Virginia Eliminates Online Carry Courses While Promoting Distancing for Everything Else

News  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Double-Standard: Virginia Eliminates Online Carry Courses While Promoting Distancing for Everything Else

As part of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly’s sweeping attack on gun rights in 2020, anti-gun lawmakers enacted legislation that made it more difficult for gun owners to obtain the required training ...

OCC Finalizes Non-Discrimination Rule

News  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

OCC Finalizes Non-Discrimination Rule

On January 14, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) finalized an NRA-supported rule to end politically-motivated discrimination in the provision of financial services. The new regulation is now set to take effect on April ...

ATF Withdraws Pistol Brace “Guidance”

News  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

ATF Withdraws Pistol Brace “Guidance”

On December 23rd, ATF posted a document to its website indicating that its recently published Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces” is withdrawn.

Record Amount of Gun Control Legislation Introduced on First Day of Bill Pre-Filing for 2021 Texas Legislative Session

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Record Amount of Gun Control Legislation Introduced on First Day of Bill Pre-Filing for 2021 Texas Legislative Session

Although the 2021 session of the Texas Legislature convenes on January 12, gun control advocates financed by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg and Beto "Hell Yeah, I'll Take Your Guns" O'Rourke wasted no time in announcing their ...

NRA Dumps New York to Reincorporate in Texas, Announces New Strategic Plan

News  

Friday, January 15, 2021

NRA Dumps New York to Reincorporate in Texas, Announces New Strategic Plan

Today, the NRA announced a restructuring plan that positions us for the long-term and ensures our continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Biden to Nominate Anti-Second Amendment Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General

News  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Biden to Nominate Anti-Second Amendment Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General

President-elect Joe Biden announced he will nominate U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Biden’s choice of a noted Second Amendment opponent to lead the Department ...

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Want to Destroy the Second Amendment

News  

Monday, November 2, 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Want to Destroy the Second Amendment

While discussion of the Second Amendment and gun control have been noticeably absent from the presidential debates and mainstream media coverage, gun rights are without a doubt on the ballot tomorrow.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.