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.