The A.T.F. recently altered the definition of a "handgun," thus subjecting more firearms to NFA's restrictions.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 bans all firearm imports into the United States (18 U.S.C. § 922(l)). However, the National Firearms Act section 925(d)(3) provides an exception for firearms that are not categorized as military surplus or NFA firearms. The A.T.F. considers the exempted firearms as suitable or readily adaptable for sporting purposes. However, the A.T.F. determines which firearms qualify as such, which is a huge problem given A.T.F.'s recent behavior.
For over five decades, the A.T.F. applied the handgun factoring test to determine if a firearm was sporting ready or adaptable for that purpose. A handgun that scored more than 75 points was allowed to be imported.
Larger and bulkier handguns always survived this test. However, there was no sporting test for a firearm that did not qualify as a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. Items falling within this classification were strictly forbidden from importation.
Now the A.T.F. has introduced more parameters to determine if a firearm qualifies as sporting ready. Any firearm perceived as being "too heavy" or "too long" will not be classified as a handgun because they believe it isn't designed to be held and fired by a single hand.
A.T.F.'s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) uses individual examiners to determine if a firearm can be fired from a single hand. This test is highly subjective and dependent on the examiner's physical abilities.
Sources say that an HK91 pistol weighing just 8 pounds with a barrel and a total length of 8-3/4 and 21 ¾ inches, respectively, failed to be classified as a handgun. This is contrary to the initial A.T.F.'s classification, which found that a firearm weighing over 8 pounds, with a barrel length and overall length of 20 and 31½ inches, respectively, qualified to be a handgun.
Other arbitrary features used in determining if a firearm was sporting ready include what the A.T.F. calls "objective design features." These features include rifle sights, rifle caliber ammunition, rifle-length barrel, heavy weight, accepting magazines of 20 rounds to 100 rounds, and the weapon's overall length. The firearm length makes it too front heavy to fire with one hand, according to the ATF.
However, the A.T.F. claims that the determination relying on design features was not binding, and the individual features could not be used to determine the classification of the firearm. However, the bureau insists that if the weapon is too heavy, or too large, or not designed for one-hand firing, was prohibited from importation.
A.T.F. has indicated that some previously classified firearms would require a reevaluation. Those that fail the test will have their import permits revoked.
Now enter NFA "Any Other Weapon" or A.O.W. classification. According to the NFA, a firearm with a barrel length of less than 26 inches and is neither a pistol, rifle, or shotgun becomes an A.O.W. by default.
Such firearms are subject to registration and transfer tax. The A.T.F. intends to create a long list of arbitrary parameters to ensure that large pistols, such as A.K. and A.R. pistols, would fail to qualify as handguns. Such weapons will therefore fall under NFA's A.O.W. category.
Possessing such a firearm without following the NFA's procedure is punishable by a 10-year prison sentence. However, the A.T.F. has not released the classification of individual firearms to determine if these firearms were still classified as pistols. This leaves gun owners with the responsibility of having their firearms independently assessed. The process can take up to 12 months.
All this talk about being the most pro-gun administration is noise if it can’t get its own ATF in line. Ideally, the ATF and every gun control law passed since the enactment of the NFA must go. Alas, we live in a time where such prospects seem like a pipe dream. But we must start somewhere.
To get the conversation started, I ask that you sign your Lone Star Gun Rights petition condemning the ATF’s unilateral classification of the Honey Badger pistol as a short-barreled rifle. Every signature counts in getting the Trump administration to recognize that its ATF is totally out of control.
Once you’re done with that, please consider joining LSGR to help us fight gun grabs at all levels of government. We’re going to need all the help we can get.