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So, is this a flip-flop?

Jeff Blogworthy emails a link to this Drudge story which states:


Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry was seen this weekend waving a gun which would have been banned if legislation he co-sponsored became law!

Kerry co-sponsored S. 1431 last year (“The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003) which would have banned a “semiautomatic shotgun that has a pistol grip.”

Kerry was presented with the gun during a Labor Day stop in Racine, West Virginia.

It’s a pity that the gun he’s holding in the photos doesn’t actually have a pistol grip. Therefore, Drudge’s claim is false, assuming this isn’t a file photo. However, putting a pistol grip on it (which would not impact the shotgun’s lethality in any way) would have made it illegal under the bill Kerry proposed, which was an attempt to extend the assault weapons ban. Another attempt at banning aesthetic features.

Another Drudge misfire.

Update: However, Drudge gets some stuff right (he has updated the story):

But Kerry’s gun bill would also banned any “gift” transaction!

It is not clear if Kerry submitted to a waiting period and completed the required paperwork (a 4479 form) or Brady background check before he claimed the gun.

It appears that under the proposed law the transfer would have to go through a dealer. The bill reads:

`(5) It shall be unlawful for any person to transfer a semiautomatic assault weapon to which paragraph (1) does not apply, except through–

`(A) a licensed dealer, and for purposes of subsection (t) in the case of such a transfer, the weapon shall be considered to be transferred from the business inventory of the licensed dealer and the dealer shall be considered to be the transferor; or

`(B) a State or local law enforcement agency if the transfer is made in accordance with the procedures provided for in subsection (t) of this section and section 923(g).

He would, under the proposed law, have to go to a licensed dealer to complete the transfer. The fact it is a gift is irrelevant. Drudge continues:

Also, since the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed, it has been illegal for an unlicensed individual (a non-dealer, non-collector, non-manufacturer, etc.) to obtain a firearm in a state in which you are not a legal resident.

It seems Kerry needs to go to Federal Firearms Licensed dealer to lawfully transfer the firearm. Current ATF guidelines state:

A person not licensed under the GCA and not prohibited from acquiring firearms may purchase a firearm from an out-of-state source and obtain the firearm if an arrangement is made with a licensed dealer in the purchaser’s state of residence for the purchaser to obtain the firearm from the dealer.

I don’t know if any leeway is granted because it is a gift.

Update 2: XRLQ informs us that:

It’s not clear that he needs to (go through a dealer, do background check, etc.) , either. Unless the person who gave him the gun was a licensed dealer, the transfer probably fell within the private party transfer exception to the Brady Act. What? You’ve never heard of the private party transfer exception? It’s been living in the papers for a long time now, under an assumed name: “gun show loophole.”


As originally passed, the Gun Control Act of 1968 did indeed generally prohibit citizens from obtaining firearms outside their state of domicile. In its present form, however, the flat prohibition applies only to handguns, with 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(3) expressly allowing face-to-face transfers of long guns outside the recipient’s state of domicile, provided that “the sale, delivery, and receipt fully comply with the legal conditions of sale in both such States.”

Update3: Gunner says a pistol grip is whatever the government decides is a pistol grip. I hope not.

HL agrees with me.

Update4: The definition of pistol grip under current law reads protrudes conspicuously below the action of the gun. Kerry’s gun has a grip that is behind the action of the gun.

The bill Kerry sponsored defines pistol grips as a grip, a thumb-hole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip. So, any grip? Maybe Drudge inadvertently isn’t full of it. Regardless, it was a bad bill.

And thanks to Glenn for the link. He has more. And if you’re just here for my gun stuff, go here.

Last Update: Via John, Kopel says that under the law Kerry pushed for, it would be a pistol grip, as I said in Update 4.

This is a testament to how arbitrary (and stupid) gun laws are. It took the pro-gun portion of the blogosphere (some knowledgeable folks) a bit of time to figure out whether the gun had a pistol grip or not. The answer is that in reality it doesn’t. But per some arbitrary law that was proposed, it would have. For another illustration of stupid gun tricks, go here.

19 Responses to “So, is this a flip-flop?”

  1. SayUncle : There’s your sportsman president for you Says:

    […] ous that he doesn’t understand the bill. Hell, he doesn’t understand bills he cosponsors. Sportsman, my ass.
    | Link | | Category: Politics, Guns | […]

  2. Jeff Says:

    Drudge: Kerry tried to ban his own gun!
    You’ve seen it; he loves to hold it up in photo-ops. This is too good. Although I’m sure, as a senator, Kerry would have been exempt from the law that he would make all the rest of us mortal peons follow.

    Update: SayUncle says the story is not exa…

  3. Diane Feinstein Says:

    Pistol Grips DO increase the leathality of guns! So do collapsable stocks! And deer are deactivated unicorns!

  4. Publicola Says:

    Actuslly a curved grip IS a pistol grip. If the shotgun didn’t have a pistol grip it would be straigh from the trigger to the toe of the stock.

    What the AWB specifies is a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action, which would mean a pistol grip like you’re thinking of.

    I’d have to double check the McCarthy-Conyers bill tat would strengthen & renew the ban, but it is probable that they simple use the phrase “pistol grip” which would include any grip that curves as Drudge implies.

    But if I recall correctly the McCarthy-Conyers bill would ban all semi-auto’s capable of holding X number of rounds, which at the time I read it left me with the impression that damn near all semi-auto’s would be banned, including the ones like Kerry possessed. It said something to the effect of “capable of holding X rounds”. I think it was more than 5 rounds. Now it didn’t specifiy length of the shell, & I’m damn sure some anti-gun asshole would break open a box of Aguilla Mini-shells (which are only 1.5″ as opposed to 2 3/4″ or 3″) & use those to determine how many rounds a shotgun can hold.

    Anyway, I don’t think Drudge got it wrong, it’s just a semantical question that could be looked at from three different perspectives: the technical definition of a pistol frip, the common understanding of a pistol grip, & the legal definition of a pistol grip.

  5. SayUncle Says:

    Per the law, that is not a pistol grip as it does not protrude conspicously from beneath the action. However, the ban kerry sponsored also includes thumbholes stocks as pistol grips.

  6. Xrlq Says:

    Drudge is wrong on the Gun Control Act. It’s not illegal to purchase a long gun out of state, as long as the sale complies with the laws of both states. I’m not sure what the law is for private transfers.

  7. damnum absque injuria Says:

    Gun Control Made Simple
    You won’t have your gun anymore, but I still will.

    It was a great catch for Drudge, had he left it at that. Unfortunately, he tries to make Kerry into a criminal, and in so doing, utterly butchers the law. Drudge writes:

    It is not clear if Ker…

  8. Publicola Says:

    Uncle – heartless libertarian has a post where he quotes the bill in question & it does use the same definition of pistol grip as the awb.

    I still think the mag limit is where he’d run afoul of things because of the Mini-shell.


    If I recall correctly the GCA of ’68 did ban transfers to people from other states. But the FOPA of 86 repealed that provision as far as long guns were concerned. It still prohibits interstate transfers of pistols.

    Course I do believe that Mass has some pretty strict requirements for gun registration (though it could jus be gun owner registration) so if he ever brings it into Mass w/o jumping through all those hoops he might violate state law – but that’s another subject altogether.

  9. Welcome to Castle Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys. Says:

    You Can’t Make This Sh*T Up!
    From Drudge today: KERRY COSPONSORED BILL BANNING GUN HE WAVES Was Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry seen this weekend waving a gun which would have been banned if legislation he co-sponsored became law? Kerry co-sponsored S. 1431 last year (“The…

  10. Heartless Libertarian Says:

    The part about how his bill would have banned citizen to citizen transfers of the gun he’s waving (like an idiot, or Saddam, I might add) assumes that the waved gun is an assault weapon. (SB 1431, Sec 6)
    Which goes back to the argument of “Is that a pistol grip, or isn’t it?”

    Anyone else note how SEc 2 (L) would pretty much outlaw both NRA High Power and 3-gun?

  11. Heartless Libertarian Says:

    Dude, InstaPundit just linked to you. Hope your server can handle it.

  12. SayUncle Says:

    I’ve never crashe from past instalanches.

  13. Classical Values Says:

    Look at what happens when he stops talking about Vietnam!
    Everyone, be sure to check out Alphecca’s (my blogfather’s) Weekly Check on the Bias. Take a good look at that picture of Kerry holding the shotgun (purportedly to show he’s on the side of the Second Amendment). It has just…

  14. gunner Says:

    The issue is what “they” define as a pistol grip. That bill would have outlawed darn near everything.

    Thanks for bringing together a lot of views.

  15. Stop the Bleating! Says:

    There’s been a buzz in the blogosphere about John Kerry’s shotgun antics in Racine, WV over the holiday weekend. So here’s what I want to know: What happened to the shotgun after the photo opp? You see, if the transfer

  16. Stop the Bleating! Says:

    There’s been a buzz in the blogosphere about John Kerry’s shotgun antics in Racine, WV over the holiday weekend. So here’s what I want to know: What happened to the shotgun after the photo opp? You see, if the transfer

  17. Alphecca Says:

    Kerry and the Gun
    InstaPundit is all over it as is Say Uncle and Publicola. They all have links to lots of other commentary on the bruhaha as well. I’ll just add one little comment of my own: If the gun Kerry is waving…

  18. Furious Flav Says:

    Make your feelings known:

    We want to know whether or not he filled out the paperwork!

  19. Welcome to Castle Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys. Says:

    Welcome back into the light…
    Here are the weapons at the Armory of Castle Argghhh! that were subject to controls under the AWB, when in their original, military configuration, i.e., bayonet lugs, flash suppressors, and grenade launchers (all features eagerly sought by criminals):…