BATFE Releases Study on the “Importability of Sporting Shotguns”

Over at his blog, Michael Bane has posted up his initial reaction the BATFE’s study on the importability of certain shotguns.

There were rumors about this flying around at SHOT, though the reps there refused to comment on it at all. Most of the rumors were centered around whether they would allow Saiga shotguns to be imported, or possibly the legality of the Taurus Raging Judge.

Well, it turns out that the rumors were more or less true with regard to semi-auto shotgun, primarily the Saiga, though ATF basically takes a screaming leap from the supposed sporting suitability of box magazine-fed shotguns and straight into tube-fed magazine land.

In a specific bout of stupidity, they make the following statement on page 15:

In regard to sporting purposes, the working group found no appreciable difference between integral tube magazines and removable box magazines. Each type allowed for rapid loading, reloading, and firing of ammunition. For example, “speed loaders” are available for shotguns with tube-type magazines. These speed loaders are designed to be preloaded with shotgun shells and can reload a shotgun with a tube-type magazine in less time than it takes to change a detachable magazine.

So, basically, all shotguns with magazine tubes are the same thing as a Saiga with a 25-round drum because open-division shooters use tech loaders to execute fast reloads. Never mind that use of these reloading systems takes a lot of practice, just the right technique, and if you screw it up in the least, you end up squirting shells everywhere but into the gun itself. Also, such setups are so rare outside of the world of Open Division 3-Gun, that I have yet to see them used anywhere else at all.

To quote a friend of mine:

That’s like classifying a mini van as a sports car because The Stig can flog it around the track faster than Grandma can make it in a 911.

Then, near the conclusion of the study is this particular gem:

The USPSA currently reports approximately 19,000 members that participate in shooting events throughout the United States.32 While USPSA’s reported membership is within the range of members for some other shotgun shooting organizations,33 organizations involved in shotgun hunting of particular game such as ducks, pheasants and quail indicate significantly more members than any of the target shooting organizations.34 Because a determination on the sporting purpose of practical shooting events should be made only after an in-depth study of those events, the working group determined that it was not appropriate to use this shotgun study to make a definitive conclusion as to whether practical shooting events are “sporting” for purposes of section 925(d)(3). Any such study must include rifles, shotguns and handguns
because practical shooting events use all of these firearms, and a change in position by ATF on practical shooting or “police/combat-type” competitions may have an impact on the sporting suitability of rifles and handguns. Further, while it is clear that shotguns are used at certain practical shooting events, it is unclear whether shotgun use is so prevalent that it is “generally recognized” as a sporting purpose. If shotgun use is not sufficiently popular at such events, practical shooting would have no effect on any sporting suitability determination of shotguns.

Therefore, it would be impractical to make a determination based upon one component or aspect of the practical shooting competitions.

Despite the obvious presence of winners, losers, time limits, spectators, trophies, brightly-colored jerseys emblazoned with sponsorship logos, thousands of competitors, and national TV coverage, BATFE isn’t actually sure if 3-Gun is a sport. That’s the sort of insipid mouth-breathing bureaucratic stupidity you could only find this side of ten DMVs.

Then they go and drop this:

As a result, the working group based the following sporting suitability criteria on the traditional sports of hunting, trap and skeet target shooting.

In other words, a sport isn’t a sport unless it conforms to the notions of what a shotgun game is circa 1843.

I haven’t finished reading the whole thing, but there generally seems to be a lot of unpleasantness for pretty much anyone interested in shotguns that incorporate any sort of technological advancement made in the last 70 years or so.

Admittedly, this post focuses primarily on BATFE’s opinion of what constitutes a sport. However, Michael Bane really cuts to the heart of the matter in his post when he stated this:

The big issue here isn’t whether ATF recognizes practical shooting as “legitimate” sports…the issue is that the “sporting purposes” clause itself is BS from the ground up.

Four paragraphs of ranting on my side, and he cuts the whole thing down to size with one sentence.

On the bright side of things, this is just a study with a policy recommendation at the end, and, as I understand it, doesn’t carry the weight of law or regulation with it.

Yet.

Mass Murder and High Capacity Magazines

So in the wake of the Tucson shooting, the typical agitators on the left have been typically agitating about how it’s such a damned big travesty that American citizens can actually own “high capacity” magazines. While wringing their hands, they blather on, “Why would anyone need to own such a device!” they cry.

In reading a lot of the forums and blogs, I see a lot of gun owners trying to formulate arguments against instituting a new magazine capacity ban similar to the one we all lived under from 1994-2004. If you find yourself in a position of having to defend ownership of magazines, you’ve already lost. To someone who doesn’t own guns, a 30-round magazine can seem to be quite the threatening object, so you’re already at a disadvantage.

Trying to claim that 30 round magazines are useful for self defense may be true, but to the non-familiar, they’re going to think you’re an overly paranoid lunatic.

Likewise, defending ownership of them because “you like them” or “use them for competition” or “because I should be able to own them” makes you look like an insensitive jerk. After all, to the outsider, forcing you to have to reload more often during a course of fire is a small price to pay to save the lives of innocent children.

So, if confronted with a discussion about instituting a ban on so-called “high capacity” magazines, it’s extremely important to re-frame the debate. You must change the focus from one of discussing magazine capacity (ZOMG 30 ROUNDS WHO WOULD EVER NEED THAT!) to one of effectively instituting policies that have an actual impact on violent crime.

The first thing you should point out?

There already was a ban on magazines that held more than ten rounds. It lasted for ten years. In that time, not one single solitary peer-reviewed study showed that the magazine ban had any effect on violent crime at all.
If a magazine ban actually worked, they should be able to provide proof.

Next?
Ask them to explain how they intend to effectively enforce a ban on objects that are roughly the size of a candy bar, completely untraceable, and are already possessed by tens of millions of US citizens.
Seriously, a magazine ban would be a nightmare to enforce. It’d be like trying to ban iPods, but worse, because magazines are much cheaper than iPods, and gun owners are a much more rabid group than eve Apple fan boys.

Point out this:
If magazine capacity had an actual effect on the effectiveness of mass killers, then you’d see a direct relationship between deaths and magazine capacity.
This isn’t the case. Seung-Hui Cho had no 30 round magazines, yet managed to kill five times as many people. John Allan Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo killed nearly twice as many people as Laughner, and they only fired one or two shots per incident. Charles Whitman killed more than two and a half times as many people as Laughner, and this was long before the days of Glock 19s or 30 round magazines.

And finally:
If they are still in favor of making possession of these sorts of magazines illegal, then ask them to justify the arrest, trial, and conviction of millions of people merely for possessing some stamped sheet metal/extruded plastic with a spring inside. Seriously. Is it really worth it to incur all of the costs associated with trying, convicting, and imprisoning all of these people, merely because they have a magazine that holds more than ten rounds?

It should be pretty easy to convert any fence-sitter using these arguments, and if that doesn’t work, have fun making the gun control true-believers look stupid.

Couple of Quick Notes…

Ok, just a few unorganized and random thoughts.

Weekend Match

Shot the local IPSC match yesterday.  Poorly.  Had one squib out of a batch of rounds I had a gut feeling was questionable.  Did ok on the classifier, though not fantastic.

Panic Buying

With the ascendancy of the Postmodern Messiah the panic buying has been in full swing.  Thankfully, I bought the big important stuff I needed a few months ago, and have been slowly stocking up on various magazines and other accessories.  The night of November 4th, I did lose my mind a bit, and put an order in for one each of the Tripp Research 42 and 52 round Cobramag.  They’re pricey, but seem to be extremely well made and come with a pretty high recommendation from several shooters whose opinions on such things I trust implicitly.

Tripp Research

A couple of days after putting the order in with Tripp Research, I had a follow up question. So I sent an email to them with the question in it. Within 15 minutes, my phone rang, and I spoke to the guy on the other end of the line, who answered my question quickly and satisfactorily.  Customer service doesn’t get any better than that.

Ok, so that’s my boring weekend.  I should have the writeup of the last tactical rifle match done probably next week sometime.  Work’s been busy, so the amount of time I’ve had to screw off and blog has been reduced.

Life, Liberty, and Panic Buying.

I took a day off yesterday, and spent most of it running around northern Maryland getting paperwork filed.  I got my MD Collectors Application filed for the third time (the state po-po lost the first two applications), which will allow me to bypass the stupid one-gun-a-month law that MD has in place for “Regulated Weapons.*”  I also filed the NFA paperwork/fingerprint cards for my suppressor.

I had to have a weekday off work to do all this, and it took me half a day and half a tank of gasoline.  Go Bureaucracy!

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It’s going to be very interesting to see how the GOP responds to getting their collective asses handed to them last week.  After Bush and McCain, the national greatness/neocon/warfare statists have no credibility left, so I doubt we’ll have to worry about them for a while.  It would be sensible to start tapping the Evangelicals again, as they organize and get the vote out like no one else.  Problem is, the Evangelical base is getting smaller as the country gets more urban/cosmopolitan**, and kissing up to them will kill off any chance of building a coalition among the economic conservative/socially permissive guys.

The best course of action, in my view, would be to throw a few tax and spending cuts to the Econs*** and try to put together a coalition with moderates and independents by striking some of the pro-life/anti-immigration/war-on-drugs language from the platform.

Right, I know.  I’m a sucker for wishful thinking.  Huckabee for Prez, 2012!

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The Obama election has already produced a major spike in firearm and accessory sales.  Pretty much everyone is out of ARs, AKs, and the associated parts kits, and magazines are flying off the shelves as fast as they can be restocked.

Myself, I’m using this as an excuse to ramp up buying stuff that I was going to buy anyway.  I have another 10 STI .40 140mm magazine bodies on the way, along with a handful of 9mm 140s and 170s.  You can never have too many magazines for your match guns.  I’m already pretty well stocked with AR and pistol mags, so the next thing to keep an eye out for is a spare AR upper.  I like having spares.

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*Regulated Weapon = anything fun.  All handguns, and 99% of tactical rifles come under this heading here in MD

**Recent polls indicate that more than 50% of the country lives in large cities, and the percentage is growing.  Deny it if you like, but that’s the way America is trending.

***Econs = EConomic Conservatives.  I just got tired of typing all that out.