Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

BATFE Modifies Shotgun Import Ban Study, Still Gets It Wrong

Friday, July 13, 2012

In January 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released its "Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns." Using the unconstitutional and oft-abused "sporting purposes" test as justification, BATFE concocted a list of ten popular shotgun features and determined that "shotguns containing any of these features are not particularly suitable for nor readily adaptable to generally recognized sporting purposes." Guns with any of these features will therefore be prohibited from importation.

A public comment period followed the study's release. NRA-ILA submitted
extensive comments and encouraged gun owners to do the same. After receiving roughly 21,000 comments, with approximately 15,000 of them challenging the constitutionality and efficacy of the "sporting purposes" test, BATFE has been compelled to reverse two of its more onerous determinations.

In an
update to the shotgun importation study, the BATFE determined that it will no longer consider forward pistol grips or integrated rail systems as features barring importation. To justify its change of opinion on forward pistol grips, BATFE stated, "there is a convincing argument that this feature is generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes because it permits accuracy and maneuverability even for activities such as bird hunting or skeet shooting." The update also mentions public comments explaining the importance of forward pistol grips for disabled shooters. BATFE goes on to explain that its determination of forward pistol grips as sporting necessitates their acceptance of integrated rail systems, as rail systems are the primary way in which shooters mount forward pistol grips.

However, gun owners shouldn't confuse BATFE's shift on these features with a newfound respect for Second Amendment rights. The reversal is couched in language justifying the change under the "sporting purposes" test and most of the update is dedicated to justifying the agency's previous report.

In response to the thousands of commenters who suggested the sporting purposes test violates their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, BATFE is dismissive. The agency pays lip-service to Second Amendment rights, citing a central piece of the Heller decision, but then states with no further explanation, "concerns about the constitutionality of [the sporting purposes test] or ATF application of this statute are without legal basis." But even a casual reading of the Heller decision proves such concerns do have basis. Rather than duck hunting, Justice Scalia found self-defense to be "the central component of the right itself."

Similarly strained is BATFE's continued defense of the position that shotguns with the remaining banned features are not "generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes." The agency notes that it received numerous comments regarding shooting sports such as three-gun, in which the features banned by BATFE are commonly used. BATFE compares the United States Practical Shooting Association's 19,000 members who participate in three-gun, to the 10.7 million licensed hunters nationwide and comes to the conclusion that since this measure of the three-gun community is .18% the size of the hunting community, three-gun equipment is not "generally recognized" as suitable for sporting purposes.

This argument is disingenuous and exposes BATFE's bias against certain popular firearms. In determining "generally recognized," BATFE treats hunting as a single widely practiced sport, while breaking the shooting sports into bite-size categories small enough to ban the equipment the agency finds objectionable.

In downplaying the ban's burden on gun owners, BATFE says, "it should be noted that the sporting purposes test under 18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3) applies as a limitation only on the importation of shotguns." Not mentioned is that under federal law an individual is also barred from assembling a semi-automatic shotgun that that would otherwise be prohibited from importation. Under BATFE's scheme, a person who mounts a flashlight or telescoping stock on an imported semi-automatic shotgun could be in violation of federal law.

BATFE's partial reversal shows the positive impact determined gun owners can have on the regulatory process. But this battle is far from over. In the short-term, NRA-ILA will continue to work with its friends in Congress, using the appropriation process to prohibit the BATFE from enforcing this ban, as has been the case since 2011. In the long-term NRA-ILA will work for the repeal of the unconstitutional "sporting purposes" test.

TRENDING NOW
Canada, Six Months from “Confiscation Day”

News  

Monday, November 8, 2021

Canada, Six Months from “Confiscation Day”

In early 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his so-called “assault weapon” ban along with a temporary amnesty period that allows the owners of newly-banned firearms to possess their property without incurring criminal liability. Canadians affected ...

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.

Senator Grassley Blocks Gun Control on Senate Floor

News  

Friday, December 3, 2021

Senator Grassley Blocks Gun Control on Senate Floor

On December 2, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) attempted and failed to pass H.R. 8, the dangerously flawed, so-called “universal” background check bill.

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

News  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

The Biden Administration’s Department of State announced that it will soon prohibit the importation of Russian ammunition into the United States. According to a release on the Department of State’s website, “[n]ew and pending permit applications ...

The Right to Bear Arms Gets Its Day in Court

News  

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Right to Bear Arms Gets Its Day in Court

November 3 was a historic day for constitutional rights in the United States, as the U.S. Supreme Court delved into a detailed and sophisticated exploration of the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment’s right ...

Ohio: House Passes Constitutional Carry

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Ohio: House Passes Constitutional Carry

Today, the House of Representatives voted 60-32 to pass House Bill 227, the constitutional carry bill. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

Ninth Circuit Salvages CA Magazine Ban

News  

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Ninth Circuit Salvages CA Magazine Ban

Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit upheld California’s ban against “large capacity magazines.” 

Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Wolf Vetoes Constitutional Carry

Friday, December 3, 2021

Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Wolf Vetoes Constitutional Carry

Anti-gun Democrat Governor Tom Wolf kept his promise and vetoed Senate Bill 565 on Thursday. 

New Jersey:  Gov. Murphy Pushing More Gun Control in “Lame Duck” Session

Thursday, December 2, 2021

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Pushing More Gun Control in “Lame Duck” Session

Gov. Phil Murphy was joined this morning by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to announce yet another assault on New Jersey gun owners.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

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.

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.