Monday, January 24, 2011

BATFE Letter re: SBR and SBS

From today's post from the Michael Bane Blog, I gather that the BATFE definition of SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) and SBS (Short Barreled Shotgun) is in some transitory mode, and we may expect some kind of redifinition. Reference:
iThe Michael Bane Blog: Is It Monday Yet?

I don't understand it (and I will spend the next 5,000 words explaining all the ways and reason I don't understand it), and although Bane seems to count it as contemporary and as urgent as Representative Carolyn McCarthy's newest bill to re-invent the Assault Weapons Bill (ASW) ban on "High Capacity Magazines" (magazines capable of holding over ten rounds of ammunition), I think this is not only severely dated, but also not likely to affect as many people.

For background, Bane first mentioned this Sunday and added more [although not enough] background later.

(I may have got these two links confused ... there should be 2 links, but they are both dated Sunday, January 23, 2011; the first is "Home Again, Home Again", and the second is "Republicans Won't go To The Wall". I'm not sure the sequence is important, but they seem to be progressively 'more informative'.)


there seems to be a letter (or a "Newsletter") from BATFE defining "Short Barreled Rifles ("SBRs") and "Short Barreled Shotguns" ("SBS"s). The are presented as FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and although they may seem obvious at the start, they become confusing as more technically oriented questions are applied to them. Generally, they address the question of when shorter or longer barrels and/or stocks are replaced on a rifle or shotgun.

The confusion addresses when a long barrel is replaced by a short barrel; a long stock is replaced by a short stock (pistol-grip stock); or vice-versa ... in regards to whether they may be transferred to a third party. And believe me, that is oversimplifying the issue, when you add the question as to whether and when the receiver (the part with the serial number, which is all BATFE knows about the firearm) is transferred.

I've done some research on the internet, and surprisingly the question seems to be based on an inquiry from a private person to BATFE asking about the regulations and restrictions on a "Short Barreled Rifle"; the BATFE response to which is dated January 11, 2008. (I was unable to find a copy of the original letter, but the ATF response provides sufficient information to provide the gist of the discussion.)

This response was 'officially codified' (and I'm making assumptions here) by the BATFE NEWSLETTER dated November of 2009, especially in the section headed : "Pistol Grips and Shotguns".

This information is apparently 'clarified' in a FAQ from the BATFE (presented here with the appropriate questions in detail .. link from Bane Blog). This is part of the section titled:

The following questions are related to an SBR or SBS which has had the barrel removed and is no longer subject to NFA transfer and possession regulations:
I fail to see how this question is timely (the question originated in 2008, was answered in 2009, and may have been added to the BATFE website in either 2009 or 2010.).

I also don't perceive this to be a question the importance of which is on a comparable scale with McCarthy's attempt to re-impose capacity-limits to magazines.

But Michael Bane found it sufficiently interesting, and sufficiently important, and sufficiently timely, to write about it in three consecutive blog-posts, and to link it to the McCarthy bill.

I concede that Michael Bane's finger on the pulse of Second Amendment issues is more sensitive than mine, so I can only conclude that he has identified a nuance which is beyond my perception; at least, in regards to the importance and timeliness of the issues. Unfortunately, either he failed to make it clear in his short posts, or I am just too naive to appreciate the issues.


If I've mis-interpreted the situation sufficiently to confuse you, I apologize. This looks like a minor issue at least; perhaps even a non-issue. It may happen that in the ensuing days there will appear more facts to make it clear to even the most dense blogger that this is .. in the words of our Wonderful Vice President Joe Boden "A Really F**king Big Deal!"

Or it may not.

I'll reserve judgment until more facts and consequences become obvious. I suggest you do the same, and keep track of it on the Bane Blog (as I will).

If it turns out to be something you may need to write to your congressperson about, I'll let you know. But don't count on me: heck, I have initially categorized the question as "See how badly BATFE can manage to regulate firearms to poorly that even the experts don't know what they're saying!"


See Shotgun World from 2006: "How to legally build a Short Barreled Shotgun (SBS)".
(See also the January, 2010 newsletter from Firearms Law group.)
UPDATE: 25-JAN-2011
New news from the folks at Taurus vie the Michael Bane Blog: "Never mind"

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