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
Beto Going All-In on Confiscation

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Beto Going All-In on Confiscation

Democrat Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke continues to struggle to gain any sort of traction for his campaign. With some polls putting him in 10th place, and his average sitting around 7th, some might say that it is desperation ...

Tell Your Lawmakers: No Semi-Auto and Magazine Ban!

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Tell Your Lawmakers: No Semi-Auto and Magazine Ban!

The Democrat Party is now so aligned with gun control that every major candidate running for its 2020 presidential nomination recently appeared in a propaganda video produced by one of the nation’s most active firearm prohibition groups. ...

NRA Files Suit Against San Francisco for Violating First Amendment

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

NRA Files Suit Against San Francisco for Violating First Amendment

On September 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors smeared millions of law-abiding Americans by unanimously adopting a resolution that designated NRA a “domestic terrorist organization.” Less than one week later, on September 9, NRA filed a federal lawsuit ...

New Hampshire: House to Vote on Gov. Sununu's Vetoes of Anti-Gun Bills

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

New Hampshire: House to Vote on Gov. Sununu's Vetoes of Anti-Gun Bills

On Wednesday, September 18th, the New Hampshire House of Representatives will vote on Governor Chris Sununu's vetoes of three anti-gun bills sent to his desk by the General Court.  Anti-gun Representatives who remain stubbornly committed to ...

House Democrats Continue Unprecedented Push for More Gun Control

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

House Democrats Continue Unprecedented Push for More Gun Control

As was continually threatened while Congress was on its six-week Summer break, House Democrats hastily convened a hearing on Tuesday to promote their latest batch of anti-gun bills.  The House Judiciary Committee’s markup of three bills, ...

California: Carson City Council to Hear Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

California: Carson City Council to Hear Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Today, September 17 at 5pm PST, the Carson City Council will be considering a late addition to this evening’s City Council meeting, Resolution 19-1693.  ​The resolution is being pushed by Mayor Albert Robles in an effort to prohibit firearm ...

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

News  

Friday, August 30, 2019

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

After decades of NASCAR drivers literally turning left for hours every race day (road course races excluded, of course), the governing body appears to be taking a figurative left turn, politically. K-Var, a retailer in outdoor and ...

Playing Games with Numbers

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Playing Games with Numbers

Stanford Law Professor John Donohue and Theodora Boulouta, a Stanford undergrad, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that claims their new research shows the 1994 “assault weapons” ban really did work.  Their finding is ...

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

California: Carson City Council Fails to Pass Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

California: Carson City Council Fails to Pass Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Yesterday, September 17, the Carson City Council failed to pass anti-gun Resolution 19-1693.  ​The resolution was being pushed by Mayor Albert Robles in an effort to prohibit firearm dealers and firearm possession in the City of Carson to the ...

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.