The National Firearms Act of 1934, amended in 1968 and 1986, set out rules for the manufacture, sale, and transfer of firearms across America. States and municipalities have followed suit with their own laws further clarifying and restricting firearm use.
Pistol grip shotguns fall under the latter category. While the National Firearms Act allows their use and sale, many areas ban them. Today we’ll look at some of the reasons pistol grip shotguns might run afoul of the law.
Pistol Grip Shotguns and Assault Weapon Bans
Assault weapon bans like the one currently under scrutiny in California often render pistol grip shotguns illegal. Laws like these set out rules by which a weapon can be classified as an assault weapon and become illegal or subject to heightened scrutiny.
The combination of a telescoping or folding stock, a pistol grip, and a semiautomatic action makes the shotgun an assault weapon. In California’s law, all three features must exist to earn the classification.
These types of laws often end up leaving space for a pistol grip shotgun to exist so long as one of the criteria remains unmet. A pump-action shotgun, like the Mossberg 500 pistol grip shotgun, will not fall under the ban, due to the lack of a semiautomatic action.
Gunsmiths can give you further advice on whether these rules apply in your situation, and how to avoid creating an illegal firearm. You can also make other modifications while you’re asking, such as Nordic Components shotgun parts.
Shoulder Firing Requirements
Some areas define shotguns as designed for firing from the shoulder. Depending on the configuration of the grip, this can render a pistol grip shotgun illegal.
Legislatures sometimes set out exceptions to this general rule for the sake of clarity for gun manufacturers. Texas clarified its shotgun definition to allow the manufacture of the Mossberg 590, for instance. These exceptions vary from area to area, so a pistol grip shotgun for sale in some cities will not pass muster everywhere.
Destructive Device Rules
If a pistol grip shotgun gains its legality by avoiding classification as a shotgun, it might instead become illegal due to classification as a destructive device. While federal law often rules the other way on things designed to fire shotgun ammunition, some states and municipalities disagree.
Short Barrel Status
Some pistol grip shotguns end up with unusually short barrels as a feature of their designs. Weapons like these, when available on the market, have been designed to be neither pistols nor shotguns and thus subject to neither set of rules.
Local laws may decide otherwise. In this case, a pistol grip shotgun can become an illegal firearm due to its barrel length.
Proceed With Caution
Due to the inconsistencies in the legality of pistol grip shotguns from area to area, you’ll want to take care when considering one of these firearms. While legal in some areas, they can be a felony in others.
Do you often travel for hunting purposes? Try checking out some of the articles in our travel section.