Category Archives: Uncategorized

Brace for Impact…ATF Clarifies Its Illogical Position on Users Shouldering Brace Equipped Pistols.

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Readers may remember the blog article I wrote when ATF dropped a bombshell at SHOT Show 2015 where it released an open letter which stated that the brace was neither designed nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock and that the use of the brace as a shoulder stock constitutes a redesign of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. The letter concluded that “[a]ny individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal Law, and are hereby revoked,” which sent part of the firearms community into a panic, with the remaining portion laughing at such a ridiculous interpretation of the term “redesign”. (I was in the group laughing).

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However, today is the day where you can all rejoice as ATF, at the behest of SB Tactical, has reexamined its logic (or lack there of) utilized in the open letter. The new determination letter written by Marvin Richardson puts the unfounded fears of the past two years to rest.

The letter begins by describing the definition of a firearm under the National Firearms Act or NFA, the definition of a rifle or shotgun and that ATF has long held that a pistol with a barrel length of less than 16 inches and an attached shoulder stock is an NFA firearm pursuant to the plain language of the statute. ATF further states that “because the stabilizing brace was not designed as a shoulder stock, ‘use’ of the device as a shoulder stock would constitute a ‘redesign’ of the firearm to which it was attached, resulting in the classification of the firearm as a short-barrel rifle.

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While I don’t have SB Tactical’s letter to ATF, it appears that they made some arguments that ATF’s definition of “use” was indefensible based on some arguments that appear eerily similar to ones I had advanced on this blog, such as misusing a common household item like a screwdriver as a pry bar. ATF responds that the result of accepting such an argument is that a device which was designed, marketed and intended for use only to shoot from the arm, could be attached to a firearm and shouldered without falling into the purview of the NFA. An argument that ATF was quick to expressly reject.

However, ATF continues on “[a]n accessory that can be attached to a firearm in any one of several configurations must be evaluated to determine whether attaching it in each of those configurations constitutes ‘making’ an NFA firearm…” ATF has previously concluded that attaching a handgun to a forearm brace does not “make” a short-barreled rifle because in the configuration that was approved by the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (“FATD”) it “is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder.”

Here is the part I really like (because ATF seems to adopt something I’ve been saying all along).

If, however, the shooter/possessor takes affirmative steps to configure the device for use as a shoulder-stock — for example, configuring the brace so as to permanently affix it to the end of a buffer tube…removing the arm-strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace — and then in fact shoots the firearm from the shoulder…that person has…”redesigned” the firearm for purposes of the NFA.

(emphasis added). It would now seem that ATF has changed the definition of “redesign” it is utilizing to the actual layman’s term which means that you actually did something to change the design, rather than just simply misuse.

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The letter continues to explain

[t]o the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational “use” of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute a “redesign”, such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which is has been historically enforced.

In short, it seems that ATF has re-examined the perverted logic it used in the January 2015 Open Letter to come to a more rationale determination about the use of a product.

However, there is a note of caution with this happy tale. It is still possible to construct a short barreled rifle from a brace equipped pistol. The letter explains “…an item that functions as a stock if attached to a handgun in a manner that serves the objective purpose of allowing a firearm to be fired from the shoulder may result in ‘making’ a short-barreled rifle, even if the attachment is not permanent.”

As you may remember, I’ve contended that if you purchased a brace with the intent to build a gun that would be fired from the shoulder, if the barrel length is less than 16 inches or the overall length is less than 26 inches, you’ve just created a short barreled rifle. Why is that?

The NFA defines the term firearm to mean among other things “…(3) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (4) a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;…”

The term rifle is defined as “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 cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed cartridge.”

Key point being that it is intended to be fired from the shoulder. As such, you would have a firearm (Short Barrel Rifle) under the NFA which would be subject to its controls.

 

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Attending the NRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta? Be sure to stop by Room B403 on Thursday from 2 PM to 6 PM, Friday 8 AM to 6 PM or Saturday 8 AM to 4 PM to cast YOUR ballot for me (Adam Kraut) for the 76th seat of the NRA Board of Directors. All NRA Members (regardless of membership level) who have been members prior to March 9, 2017 can vote.

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Filed under ATF, Firearms Law, Uncategorized

Results of a Right to Know Law Request to the PA Game Commission Regarding Their Survey of Hunters and Semi-automatics for Big Game Hunting

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Recently, after I blogged about the list of approved animals to hunt with a semi-automatic in PA, I submitted a Right to Know Law request to the PA Game Commission.

I sought records which included the survey itself, any and all responses, and documents relating to the selection of those who would receive the survey, information (age, county) of the individual completing the survey.

The cost to produce the records I requested would be almost $400, as there were an estimated 1,473 pages of records that were responsive to my request. I was informed that approximately 75% of the respondents returned the survey via the USPS, which accounted for the cost associated with the production of the records.

The Commission did furnish me with the responses that were returned electronically (523 responses). Please note, this only accounts for 1/4 of the total responses received.

I sent the responses I received to a fellow member on AR15.com who is more well versed in decoding the information provided. He responded that “the sample, at least the observable portion, is rather skewed geographically and by age.”

He found that within the partial dataset there was a high degree of correlation between the ownership of a semi-automatic firearm and support and a high degree of non-ownership and strong opposition. Out of the 523 respondents that I received results for, less than 40% owned a semi-automatic rifle. It was further explained that opposition increased with age as well as counties that had the highest opposition rates also had the highest rate of response.

He also noted concerns relating to the sample population. In order to determine whether a representative sample of PA hunters were surveyed, we would need more information such as a summary detail on the CID pool from which the sample was drawn and populations by county with counts by age.

As for the methodology, I was told that the survey recipients were chosen via a SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) report that utilizes a data source based around a T-SQL query that makes use of the built-in NEWID function. Since, that stuff is a bit beyond my knowledge scope as to technology and databases, the response may have well have been in french.

The was it was explained to me was that, the “function assigns each distinct Customer ID (CID) number within the given parameters a randomly generated globally unique ID number.  An example of this ID looks like  6F9619FF-8B86-D011-B42D-00C04FC964FF.  These Customer ID numbers are sorted by the generated ID. The desired number of CID’s are taken from the top of the sorted list.  These randomly select CID’s are then joined with the associated demographic information.” 

As my technical resource notes

The sampling method used, (randomly assigning a Global ID and sorting in alphanumeric order)  is inherently flawed, as there is no way to ensure that the resulting sample is representative of the hunter population as a whole. The preferred method used throughout market research would be a “stratified random sample.”
By using county and age as strata, the PGC would have ensured, with 99% confidence, that the sample group was completely representative of the 900,000+ PA hunter population.
Choosing not to use this method, in conjunction with the vague statement “within given parameters,” indicates incompetence at best, or intent at worst.

I’d like to remind readers that I am only working with a portion of the data that the Commission received. Without the rest of the information, we are only looking at a small portion of the picture. But it does seem to raise questions as to the validity in which the survey was conducted.

 

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Does Delta Airlines New Policy to Zip Tie Luggage Containing Firearms Violate Federal Law?

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Guns.com is reporting that Delta Airlines has quietly changed its policy related to passengers who are flying with guns. According to the NBC Affiliate in Fort Lauderdale

The airline will now have special tags to alert ground handlers to not put bags carrying weapons on the general carousel.

The baggage will go directly to a baggage service agent who is required to perform an ID check on the passenger who picks up the luggage, sources told NBC 6. The agent must then use zip ties to secure the bag.

This policy was apparently implemented after the shooting that occurred in the Fort Lauderdale airport, after the criminal retrieved his luggage, went to the bathroom to load his firearm and then proceeded to murder five people and injure six others.

Interestingly enough, it appears that Delta may be in violation of federal law by implementing such a policy.

18 U.S.C. § 922(e) provides:

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to deliver or cause to be delivered to any common or contract carrier for transportation or shipment in interstate or foreign commerce, to persons other than licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, licensed dealers, or licensed collectors, any package or other container in which there is any firearm or ammunition without written notice to the carrier that such firearm or ammunition is being transported or shipped; except that any passenger who owns or legally possesses a firearm or ammunition being transported aboard any common or contract carrier for movement with the passenger in interstate or foreign commerce may deliver said firearm or ammunition into the custody of the pilot, captain, conductor or operator of such common or contract carrier for the duration of the trip without violating any of the provisions of this chapter. No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm.

(emphasis added).

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Tags that are usually put INSIDE the luggage to indicate the firearm is unloaded.

It would seem, at least based upon what NBC is reporting, that Delta’s policy is potentially in direct contravention with what is prohibited by federal law. Perhaps Delta was unaware of the prohibitions against marking luggage containing firearms before it implemented its policy.

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Hunting with a Semiautomatic Firearm in PA? List of approved animals.

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As many of you know, the PA Game Commission voted on the regulations for hunting with semiautomatic rifles. As Attorney Prince previously reported, the Pennsylvania Game Commission voted against semi-automatic hunting for big game.

Which means the list of animals that people are able to hunt is not as large as it was previously thought to be. The Game Commission cited a survey that it randomly sent to 4,000 hunters in which they received over 2,000 responses.

According to this article, there were 2,002 individuals who responded.

The findings of the survey show clear support for hunting furbearers (55 percent support or strongly support), woodchucks (51 percent support or strongly support) and small game (42 percent support or strongly support, and 12 percent neither support nor oppose) with semiautomatic rifles.

For big game, while 28 percent of survey respondents expressed support or strong support for semiautomatic rifles, 64 percent of respondents said they opposed or strongly opposed semiautomatic rifles for big-game hunting, with 52 percent saying they were strongly opposed.

http://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=113

“Small game is defined as: game birds (brant, bobwhite quail, coot, gallinule, geese, grouse, Hungarian partridge, merganser, mourning and Eurasian collared doves, pheasant, rail, snipe, swan, wild ducks and woodcock) and game animals (cottontail rabbit, squirrels, snowshoe hare and woodchuck).

The term furbearer applies to the badger, beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, pine martin, raccoon, red or gray fox, striped skunk and weasel.”

Big game includes: Deer, Elk, Black Bear and Turkey.

If you have not already, be sure to contact the Game Commission to express your disappointment in their decision to not allow for semiautomatic rifles to hunt for big game. The Commission stated that if growing support for hunting big game with semiautomatic rifles emerges at some point in the future, they will give consideration to further regulatory changes.

Featured image photo credit: Gunsamerica.com

 

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Did Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood and Reporter Stephanie Farr Commit a Felony of the Third Degree?

Yesterday, Reporter Stephanie Farr of Philly.com reported on an incident, where allegedly Mr. Domonique Jordan, an adult aide to a special-needs student, brought a firearm to the Drexel Hill Middle School. Apparently, Mr. Jordan has been charged with possession of a firearm on school property, even though, such charging would appear contrary to the en banc decision I recently obtained from the Superior Court in Commonwealth v. Goslin. Regardless, in her article, she states, “Jordan, an employee with Staffing Plus of Haverford, has a concealed-carry weapons permit and an Act 235 permit, which is issued to security guards by state police, [Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael] Chitwood said.”

Unfortunately for Superintendent Chitwood and Reporter Farr, all license to carry firearms information is confidential and the disclosure of such is a felony of the third degree and also carries with it civil penalties. Specifically, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(g)(3.1) provides

Any person, licensed dealer, licensed manufacturer or licensed importer who knowingly and intentionally obtains or furnishes information collected or maintained pursuant to section 6109 for any purpose other than compliance with this chapter or who knowingly or intentionally disseminates, publishes or otherwise makes available such information to any person other than the subject of the information commits a felony of the third degree.

For those unaware, Section 6109 is the statutory section regarding the issuance of licenses to carry firearms. Section 6111(i) further provides, in pertinent part,

All information provided by the … applicant, including, but not limited to, the … applicant’s name or identity, furnished by … any applicant for a license to carry a firearm as provided by section 6109 shall be confidential and not subject to public disclosure. In addition to any other sanction or penalty imposed by this chapter, any person, … State or local governmental agency or department that violates this subsection shall be liable in civil damages in the amount of $1,000 per occurrence or three times the actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney fees.

As our viewers are aware, I previously litigated a class action against the City of Philadelphia for disclosing confidential license to carry firearms applicant information which resulted in a $1.5 million dollar settlement and also secured a major victory, where the Commonwealth Court held that the use of un-enveloped postcards, which contain license to carry firearms applicant information, is a violation of the confidentiality provisions.

It will be interesting to see whether Superintendent Chitwood and Reporter Farr are held accountable. While Reporter Farr may have been unaware (even though ignorance of the law is not a defense), there is no reason for Superintendent Chitwood to not have been aware of the law.

If your confidential license to carry firearms applicant information has been disclosed, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., to discuss your legal rights.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademarkand division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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PA Game Commission Votes AGAINST Semi-Automatic Hunting

Today, after previously voting unanimously to preliminarily approve hunting of game with semi-automatic firearms, the Pennsylvania Game Commission voted against semi-automatic hunting for big game in violation of the Second Amendment and in direct betrayal of gun owners.

Please reach out to the Game Commission and let them know your thoughts on their encroachment of your inalienable rights.

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Our Veterans Need Our Help To Ensure Their Second Amendment Rights! It Is Time For Us To Repay Our Debt To Them!

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 240-175, with numerous Democrats voting in support, on H.R. 1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from stripping a veteran’s right to Keep and Bear Arms in the absence of an order or finding by a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority that such veteran is a danger to himself or herself or others.

Specifically, H.R. 1181 provides:

Notwithstanding any determination made by the Secretary under section 5501A of this title, in any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.

It now moves to the Senate for approval, where we need YOUR support. Please contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to SUPPORT H.R. 1181.

As many of you are aware, I recently detailed a client’s putative loss of his Second Amendment rights through the VA, because the VA, sua sponte and in the absence of any form of due process, elected to place him into “supervised direct payment status.”

It is imperative that we protect our veterans and enact H.R. 1181! Please take a few minutes out of your day to contact your Senators and let them know that it is time that we treat our veterans with the respect and dignity they deserve and ensure the protection of their constitutional rights – the rights that they have steadfastly defended of ours. Our veterans are not second-class citizens and our Senators need to know that we’ll defend their rights, just as they’ve been willing to sacrifice everything to preserve our rights.

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