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or Here’s how easy it is to inadvertently break federal gun laws and not even know it

For Christmas this year, my wife got me a subscription to Guns Magazine. It’s a good mag and there’s even a column in each issue by David Codrea. In short, I enjoy the magazine so I’m not trying to be unnecessarily harsh on these guys.

In the current issue, they review the KEL-TEC PLR-16. The following picture is on page 57.

On page 58, is a similar pic with a note that says something like equipped with a surefire flashlight and forward grip, it makes a fine home defense weapon. Trouble is that ATF holds that attaching a vertical forward grip to a pistol makes the pistol an Any Other Weapon (AOW). The manufacture of an AOW (which you would do simply by putting a foreward grip on a pistol) requires payment for a $200 tax stamp and an extensive background check. It’s basically the same process as buying a machine gun or suppressor. This, per sentencing guidelines, is a pretty serious violation that could result in 10 years in jail and a $250K fine. Now, this ruling has been successfully challenged in court in South Carolina. The court ruled that: Even after being modified with grips, the pistols are still “pistols” as defined above and not “any other weapon” as defined by 26 U.S.C. section 5845(e). But that doesn’t matter because ATF as an institution has acted as though that ruling never happened and still holds that such a grip makes a pistol an AOW.

This incident shows how easy it is to run afoul of gun laws, particularly when related to AOWs, short barreled rifles and pistols. Chris has a fine write up on the classifications here.

I’m sure the author of the piece thought absolutely nothing of it. After all, the flashlight fits on the picatinny rail. Just takes tightening a bolt. It’s easy to do and no one would think that putting a light on their handgun was a big deal. But it is. I hope Guns Magazine lets its readers know that when it comes to gun laws, the enthusiast acts at his peril.

I can see it now where the ATF rules that pistols can no longer come with rails as that makes them readily convertible to AOWs.

Careful out there.

Update: In comments, Mr. Taffin notes that the weapon was fired stock. The grip was only put on during photo ops.

Update 2: People keep pointing out that registering an AOW is only $5. That is true. But making one yourself (i.e., putting a grip on it) requires a $200 tax stamp.

13 Responses to “Careful”

  1. Vote For David Says:

    Of course, a rail on a pistol is the moral equivalent of a drop-in auto sear: both are made of Pure Evil.


    ::shakes head:: America, how did we get here?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    10 years & $250k for a piece of plastic… You’ll prolly get the chair for “the shoulder thing that goes up”. Meh.

  3. _Jon Says:

    Hence the reason many more people aren’t into building & collecting firearms.
    Too much governmental BS.
    … and that’s probably intentional …

  4. Chas Says:

    Yeah, you can have a horizontal thingie, but if your thingie goes vertical you’re in trouble. That happens to me all the time and I don’t even own a handgun with a rail on it.

  5. Weer'd Beard Says:

    But think of all the lives saved and crimes stopped by the NFA……

    Yeah that’s meant to sound Ironic : ]

  6. JOHN TAFFIN Says:

    Thanks for your nsightful piece. One mistake however, the author test-fired the KelTec as a box-stock firearm with a scope attached. What you see in the picture is the photographer’s prop.

  7. Joe Says:

    Why did I think that registering an AOW cost only $5.?

  8. SayUncle Says:

    registering is $5. making your own is $200

  9. ParatrooperJJ Says:

    Well it doen’t matter if the weapon was fired or not. If the foregrip was placed on it, federal law was violated.

    As to the court ruling, federal district court rulings only apply to the district where they were issued. So in that district a pistol with a foregrip would not be an AOW, but everywhere else it would ne illegal.

  10. Sulaco Says:

    Doubt they will be outlawing rails anytime soon, too many cops (and close polititions protective squads) use them on thier guns……

  11. Ninth Stage Says:

    Ninth wishes that the above Taffin guy had bothered to tell Ninth who the author was.

  12. Darrell Says:

    I own a PLR-16, and heck, I wish I COULD put a vertical foregrip on it. It would help with the handling of the gun. I was cautioned not to do it shortly after I got it. Pity, because it’s quite a package otherwise… Tons of fun and not expensive. It’s also surprisingly accurate.

  13. Roger Says:

    To make it worse, under the BATF’s “constructive possession” rulings, just owning both a pistol and a forward grip that could be attached to the pistol could cause the ATF to claim that you are in violation.