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BATFE Shotgun “Study” Precursor to Gun Ban

Unable to push a gun ban through the current Congress, the anti-gun Obama administration is seeking to ban many guns through executive fiat.

In January, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) proposed that the importation of many shotguns be prohibited. In a report titled a Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns, the BATFE found that “certain shotgun features are not particularly suitable or readily adapted for sporting purposes,” including:

•Folding, telescoping or collapsible stocks
•Bayonet lugs
•Flash suppressors
•Magazines over five rounds, or a drum magazine
•Grenade-launcher mounts
•Integrated rail systems
•Light-enhancing devices
•Excessive weight
•Excessive bulk
•Forward pistol grip

Shotguns containing any of these features are classified by the BATFE as “military shotguns, or shotguns with common military features that are unsuitable for traditional shotgun sports.”

So where does the government find the authority to ban any firearms without the consent of Congress? The 1968 Gun Control Act states that the Attorney General must approve the importation of any firearm “generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.”

This unconstitutional so-called “sporting purposes” test has been used by presidents of both parties to ban the importation of millions of firearms and is reminiscent of the 1994 Clinton gun ban, which banned many semi-automatic firearms that contained certain cosmetic features.

This latest action also makes at least two things clear. First, the “sporting test” should be repealed as repugnant to the Second Amendment. Even the Supreme Court finally admitted, in its 2008 Heller decision, that the Second Amendment protects gun ownership for defensive purposes, not just sport shooting.

Toward that end, GOA is working with members of Congress to repeal the “sporting purposes” test.

Secondly, this is yet another example of the abuse of power by the BATFE. As if the scandal of running guns into Mexico and attempting to illegally register rifle sales in border states were not enough, the agency is now seeking to ban the importation of shotguns similar to those owned by many law-abiding Americans. And this despite the fact (at the risk of lending any credibility to the bogus “sporting purposes” argument) that the banned guns ARE used for sport shooting and hunting.

The Second Amendment protects an individual, fundamental liberty—yet there exists a government agency tasked with overseeing that right. In an effort to rein in the BATFE, GOA recently launched a petition urging Congress to strip the agency of its role in regulating the firearms industry.

GOA has also submitted comments to the BATFE contesting the “findings” of the Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns. Individual gun owners can submit their own comments by May 1, 2011 via email to shotgunstudy@atf.gov or by fax to (202) 648-9601. Comments should include a name an address, and those sent by fax cannot exceed five pages.

John Velleco is Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobbying organization with over 300,000 members nationwide.

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