Banning Guns by Changing Definitions, Part 4

The Obama administration is seeking to limit the importation of some shotguns via rulings made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF.) ATF has issued a “Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns” which provides the logical underpinnings for a ban of some weapons. In Part 1 we looked at how the ATF defined “sporting purpose” to exclude the popular action and practical shooting sports. In Part 2 we saw how several features that would cause an imported shotgun to be banned are useful in home defense. In Part 3 we looked at how the unconstitutional Gun Control Act of 1968, which introduced the “sporting purpose” test for importation, came to be. In this final installation we’ll look at the implications of the current study on pistols, rifles, and domestic shotguns.

The Supreme court decisions in District of Columbia v Heller and McDonald v Chicago moved the earth under the feet of the ATF. The decisions clearly established that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, it can be exercised for any lawful purpose, and that it applies to the states.  This negates many of the firearms related parts of the ATF’s job. But like any good bureaucracy, ATF has its’ fingers in its’ ears and is shouting “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” while planning how to overcome this setback. Apparently the ATF’s plan is to say “The Supremes told DC, and told the states, but they didn’t tell ME! Besides, the ruling says that there is space for some regulation!” The current study certainly foreshadows some regulation.

Before the Heller and McDonald cases were decided it could plausibly (if incorrectly) be argued that the “sporting purpose” test that is applied to imports, and was part of the justification for the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, was regulating a privilege and thus legal. That is no longer the case. The ATF is laying the groundwork to restrict what is undeniably a right. This goes beyond simple government overreach to the realm of violating the oaths of office for those involved.

But it’s not just imports that are in the crosshairs, as Jeff Knox points out in The Knox Update:

One of the most important things about this ATF “study” and proposed shotgun importation ban is that it lays the groundwork for much broader, general shotgun restrictions.  Importation is not the only place where federal gun laws apply this unconstitutional “sporting purpose test,” it is also found in the National Firearms Act (NFA), the laws dealing with machineguns and destructive devices.  Under the NFA, any firearm with a bore greater than .5 inch is a “destructive device” – in the same category as mortars and Howitzers.  The only exception is for “shotguns which the secretary finds are generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.”  If the secretary (in this case Attorney General Eric Holder) finds that certain shotguns are not importable because they are unsuitable for sporting purposes he must then explain why virtually identical guns, with the same features, are considered suitable for sporting purposes with regard to the NFA.  How can he declare them non-sporting on the one hand and not declare identical guns as non-sporting on the other?

One factor that jumps out from the current ATF study is that it differs from the Clinton gun ban in a critical way. The Clinton ban looked at guns and said if it could accept a high capacity magazine and had any 2 other characteristics then it was banned. Thus you could have a magazine and a pistol grip, or a magazine and night sights, and still be legal. Few people missed having a bayonet lug, and grenade launchers and grenades had essentially been banned from civilian hands since the NFA became law in 1934.  The current study says that any ONE item on a list, including a magazine that holds more than five rounds or a place to attach a flashlight so you can see the burglar in your home, and the gun is banned.

So the problem doesn’t end with shotguns. The current study refers to the conclusions drawn in prior ATF studies of rifles in 1989 and 1998, and handguns in 1968. It also draws on the NFA and the GCA (Gun Control Act of 1968) to justify the “sporting purpose” test, and the narrow interpretation that the ATF places on the test. The justifications are all linked together, like a knitted sweater. Pull on the piece of yarn called “imported shotguns” and you find when it’s unraveled enough that you’re tugging on the “domestic shotguns” yarn. Only now the “imported rifle” bit of yarn is hanging loose, just begging for someone to tug on it. Unravel that a bit and you reach “domestic rifles.” A similar bit of unraveling is likely to happen with the piece of yarn labelled “handgun.”

In other words, this report lays the groundwork to impose by regulatory fiat an entirely unconstitutional gun ban more draconian than the Clinton gun ban that expired in 2004, and bypasses Congress and the Constitution to do so. It needs to be stopped now. The ATF is accepting comments on the report until the end of April, 2011. I urge you to comment, and to send a copy of your comments to your congressional representatives.

  • Comments may be submitted by e-mail to
  • By fax to (202)648-9601.Faxed comments may not exceed 5 pages.
  • All comments must include name and mailing address.

This is not just an issue for gun owners. This is an issue of the Obama administration overreaching, and violating the Constitution in the process. Restricting our rights by regulatory fiat should concern every American.

Originally published at Landmark Report.

28 Responses to “Banning Guns by Changing Definitions, Part 4”

  1. [...] the final installation of this series we’ll look at how a ban on importing certain shotguns that look mean and nasty can be used to [...]

  2. [...] finally, Part 4, which shows that the ATF’s “sporting use” definition puts all guns, not just certain [...]

  3. santa says:

    ATF is going to need more agents if it plans to enforce this one. Plus once confiscated Iam quite sure it will end up in some mexican town.

    Not on my watch…

  4. Clyde Serda says:

    Who will defend our county when all the guns are gone? The military? just and anyone from the middle east. Leave our guns alone…

  5. TWANA JONES says:

    Go ahead make my day !

  6. Jeff Norton says:

    Is my Bible next. Why do you want to trun me into a criminal. If you ban my shot gun thats what will happen because i can not let you take my weapon.

  7. Wayne N says:

    Take away my weapon so the enemy can be the only one armed I guess is the approach correct? come try to take away the weapons of the people and see what the response is. I hope it happens and when millions of Americans see what pure tyranny looks like we shall rid ourselves of you for at least my lifetime until the next socialist comes along after i’m gone.

  8. Bill says:

    Why don’t our corrupt Govt. focus on the crooks in DC and balancing our budget!

  9. sam says:

    well i sent my name/address and comment to the atf… hope they don’t come knocking on my door now

  10. Amendment II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    This new “sporting purposes” regulation sounds a lot like infringement to me. What pray-tell do you think infringement means and how do you justify to yourselves that you are not infringing on our right to bear arms? Oh you’re just infringing a little bit. Oh and on mostly useless aspects?! Well then I guess we can just stomp the hell out of the Constitution of the United States of America as we walk all over it on this issue. Ok I guess I’m satisfied. There are only two destinations down this road that people, politicians, and organizations like you are taking this country: the people of this once great country will get tired of you disrespecting our founding fathers as well as the constitution and will finally take action to reclaim this country and reshape it back to it’s founding values and principles minus the slavery and racism. The other destination is that you will actually succeed in all your endeavors and efforts to mold this society into what you believe it should be. Your dream statist run and regulated nation will become a reality and every breath and movement will be regulated by the kind and compassionate organizations such as yourself. This will last for as long as it can on it’s own until an opressed and repressed American people in defense of their long lost freedom will have no other choice than to rise up in revolution. On that day the once free American people will remember you and what role you played in stealing our freedoms bit by seemingly insignifigant bit and the enslaved will have restitution. In that day the “State” may kill many of it’s own people just like lybia recently and the uprising may end in rivers of blood and the complete loss of American freedom. Either way the American people will at some point seek to restore our country and cleanse it from theives like this.

    Thank you and God bless.

  11. [...] gun ban? Here is supposedly something the Obama admin. is trying to pull. Banning Guns by Changing Definitions, Part 4 | Beregond's Bar I hope this isn't true or SHTF! __________________ 09 Grizzly 700 SE, Viper 3500# winch w/syn. [...]

  12. Andrew Cano says:

    When I read about this shotgun study I became very concerned but when I found out that the Director Kenneth Melson refused to appear before Congress to answer questions about the Gunwalking case it is easy to see that this agency has become infected with the political agenda of this administration. Gun control, deprive the rights of the citizen to have the ability to protect himself,to be involved in shooting sports,even three gun shooting competition, hunting, training for law enforcement and military. This administration did not get the message from the last election it is time to rid ourselves of the far leftists left in this administration in the up coming election. If you value your rights we must work together to vote these individuals out. Their arrogance and actions to bypass the will of the people and the written Constitution make this a top priority.
    God Bless America I know he will help this election cycle.

  13. the eye says:

    Wow. Great series of posts. This is simply unacceptable. Now that the GOP owns Congress they need to COMPEL the Bureaucrats in the ATF to explain themselves and then need to slap down their regulations with threats of de-funding or specific legislation banning their adoption.
    I’m really sick of the Obama assaults on the Constitution. I really hope people vote him out in 2012. He is a disaster.

    • Oldfart says:

      While you semi-correctly point out that the GOP now owns congress they only “own” the House while the Senate is still controlled by the Democrats. Still, regardless of how many Republicans are sitting in either chamber, few of them have any stomach for compelling the administration to do anything. Even with all the publicity that has been drummed up over the “Gunwalker” fiasco, no one will suffer any penalty other than a possible promotion to a higher position.

  14. Thomas Gulotta says:

    If this extremely criminal action should come to fruition, then “We The People” will be obligated not to comply!

  15. Bigdave says:

    You ready to kill thousands of American civillians? because that’s what you’re getting ready to do! Firearm bans are the first step to a communist country, you will have to kill people to obtain that here.

  16. Someothername says:

    Thank you

    I do not hunt and kill animals for sport
    I do not compete in shooting events competitions
    I don’t watch sports on TV, and have no interest in sports.
    I have a gun to defend myself and my family
    Who cares if a self-defense tool can also be used in a sport or not?
    Second Amendment as it relates to third Amendment is about consent and being forced under duress to do something by a government’s militia.
    If a person’s family member was held captive by the militia, your consent wouldn’t be genuine.
    So, it’s about a person’s right to protect themselves and family wherever they go, not just inside the home.

    What the heck has that got to do with sports?
    In other words, infringing upon “shall not be infringed” by bringing up what kind of ball they use in football versus tennis really is a joke.

  17. Someothername says:

    Third Amendment:
    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    Got that?

    “without the consent of the Owner”

    If an armed militia soldier holds a family member who went for a walk outside the house hostage, that’s duress, not consent.


    Second Amendment:
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    I’m not seeing sports here …

  18. Dean Martin says:

    they should be illegal

    • e.b. says:

      Of course they kill that’s why I have mine… and of course like all true American’s I’ll defend myself with it… at least I won’t need to protect my home with rattlesnakes with rfid chips on them, yet.

  19. Dean Martin says:

    only cops should have them

  20. Dean Martin says:

    the military has themto protect people:)

  21. Dean Martin says:

    guns are good for protection for people

  22. DomGiovanni says:

    Once the gun ban goes into effect and very few gun owners turn in their firearms, a hell of a hellabaloo will break out throughout the land. Politicians will head for the hills claiming they weren’t part of it. Liberals will bury their heads in the sand and choke on it. The only way liberals, I mean liberals, liberals, can take away the people’s right to own guns is to kill people, lots of people, and they don’t have the guts.
    Stand on your rights and these devils will flee from you!

  23. DomGiovanni says:

    People keep calling “them” Democrats. They are bullies. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. All they do is intimidate and persecute those who will not bend to their wishes. Some of you have never been in a fight with a bully before. Oh, some might have scared you but never gave you a black eye. When you get into a fight, go expecting that you will get hurt, you will come out better for it. They are not Democrats, I knew some decent Democrats, once. These are bullies, mean and simple.

  24. Obama Sucks says:

    Didn’t Obama say something about protecting our 2nd amendment rights? I think it was something like “I won’t take your shotguns, handguns, etc…”

    It still baffles me how this jerk-off got nominated to second term.

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