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Gun Law: Can I Own Short-Barrelled Rifles?

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You might be aware that there’s a minimum limit on the barrel of a rifle: 16 inches. Anything less than that is a “short-barreled rifle” and requires a special permit from the federal government (under the auspices of our good friends at the ATF) to own. 

Things are even more complicated because of the new ATF rule on pistol braces, which basically means that what used to be your pistol with a brace on it is now a short-barreled rifle according to the ATF. It’s also very complicated and even a little arbitrary, but in a sense that doesn’t matter: If you’re in violation of the law you are running a serious chance of falling afoul of the ATF, which can land you in prison for years or even decades.

So what is the law on short-barreled rifles? Can you own one? And what does the recent ruling on the matter say about your pistol braces?

What Is A Short-Barrelled Rifle?

Like a lot of areas of gun law, there are very specific definitions of what a short-barrelled rifle is and what it is not. In the case of a short-barrelled rifle, the definition isn’t just the length of the barrel. If it were, every handgun in America would require a special license to own. 

In addition to barrel length, the weapon also has to be a rifle. That might sound obvious, but it’s important to understand what a rifle is for the purposes of knowing whether or not what you have is a short-barreled rifle. Rifles are, according to the ATF, weapons designed to be fired while shouldered and have a rifled barrel. 

In addition to any weapon with a barrel less than 16 inches, this can also include any rifle with a total overall length of less than 26 inches. It can also include any handgun with a stock… and unfortunately, the ATF basically just ruled that pistol braces are “stocks” for all legal purposes.

How Can I Legally Own A Short Barrelled Rifle?

To legally own a short-barrelled rifle – or a pistol with a brace, because these are now considered one and the same under federal law – you need to apply for a Class 3 weapons license, which requires that you first obtain an FFL.

The FFL is something that is required of all people who are dealing, manufacturing or importing weapons. Contrary to popular belief, you do not actually need to be “running a business” as such. You just need to have an address for your “business” and that can be your home address. 

Once you have your FFL it’s just a matter of paying your annual Class 3 tax. Most people think this is a huge amount of money to pay annually, but much like the application fee for the FFL, it’s not a bank-breaking amount of money for most people. The main thing is filling out the FFL paperwork properly – which isn’t nearly as invasive as you think it is – and then waiting on the approval.

Is My Pistol A “Short-Barreled Rifle?”

So as dumb as it might sound… lots of pistols in America were magically transformed into short-barreled rifles at the whims of the ATF. We’re not going to pretend we agree or even that we think it makes sense. It is, however, the law of the land and, as such, flouting it can land you into serious trouble. 

This is because a recent ruling from the ATF has decreed that any pistol with a brace is now a short-barreled rifle. So unless you have the world’s weirdest pistol with a 16-inch barrel, you’re now the proud owner of a short-barreled rifle. Congratulations, you have to register it with the ATF, or else you’re breaking the law. 

The ATF had a grace window for owners of these “short-barreled rifles” to be registered without paying any fees, but that window sadly has closed. So you still have to register your newly-minted short-barreled rifle and on top of that, you have to pay a fee for it.

All of this underscores the truth that Second Amendment advocates know: such laws are an infringement of our rights to keep and bear arms. If the ATF can magically declare your Glock to be a short-barreled rifle, there is little in the way of them declaring that any and all weapons are “assault weapons” after a ban on such. The importance of fighting to defend our Second Amendment rights has never been greater than today.

Do you own an SBR? Do you think they should be easier or harder to obtain? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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2nd Amendment

Pennsylvania Gun Grabbers Target “Assault Weapons”

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Pennsylvania’s gun owners find themselves in the crosshairs as anti-gun lawmakers in Harrisburg aggressively pursue restrictive firearms measures. 

In a worrisome turn of events, a key House committee has recently given its approval to four measures, including a sweeping ban on many commonly owned semi-automatic rifles. The implications of House Bill 336, HB 483, HB 777, and HB 1190 are significant, and they are now advancing toward a potential vote in the full Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

House Bill 336, commonly referred to as the “assault weapon” ban, casts a wide regulatory net over firearms based on specific features. This includes criteria such as folding or telescoping stocks, pistol grips, bayonet mounts, flash suppressors, and threaded barrels. Pro-Second Amendment advocates correctly express concern that such restrictions infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens to own commonly used firearms for self-defense and sporting purposes.

HB 483 raises eyebrows with the establishment of a Gun Violence Task Force, ostensibly targeting “criminal violence.” However, the concern arises from the focus on “gun violence” as a distinct category, potentially diverting attention away from comprehensive crime prevention strategies. Moreover, the task force’s association with arbitrary goals set by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2030 initiative may lead to unintended consequences.

HB 777 is not without controversy, as it places restrictions on privately made firearms, impacting hobbyists and enthusiasts who engage in lawful firearm craftsmanship and customization. This measure has drawn criticism for potentially stifling innovation and limiting the ability of responsible gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

HB 1190 addresses the emerging issue of 3D-printed firearms, seeking to prohibit their possession. A blanket ban on such technologies will hinder technological advancements and encroach upon the rights of individuals to create firearms for personal use.

As these measures progress through the legislative pipeline, it becomes imperative for pro-Second Amendment advocates to voice their concerns, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between public safety and preserving the fundamental rights of responsible gun owners. The ongoing debate over gun regulations in Pennsylvania underscores the need for a nuanced and comprehensive approach that addresses genuine concerns without infringing on individual freedoms.

What do you think about this latest attempt by gun grabbers to deprive law-abiding Americans of their Constitutional rights? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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News

NRA Denounces Latest Democrat Gun Grab Against “Assault Rifles”

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) has strongly criticized Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, for reintroducing legislation to ban so-called “assault weapons.” This move is the latest endeavor by Democrats to undermine the fundamental Second Amendment right to self-defense.

Randy Kozuch, Executive Director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), expressed his concerns about Schumer’s proposed assault weapons ban, calling it a “failed attack on the Constitution” and calling out gun grabbers for this newest attempt to erode and ultimately destroy Americans’ right to keep and bear arms codified by the Second Amendment. 

Schumer had already announced his intention to bring the Assault Weapons Ban to the Senate floor for a vote. In a recent Twitter post, Schumer highlighted his past efforts, stating, “After I led the passage of the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban 30 years ago, America saw a decrease in mass shootings and gun deaths.” Schumer emphasized an attack on the Second Amendment as a necessary measure to curb violence in America.

On Wednesday, Schumer formally introduced his gun-grabbing bill to ban so-called “assault weapons”, along with other anti-Second Amendment legislation, and sought unanimous consent for the legislation, a procedural move that would bypass a formal vote. However, some Republicans have already rejected the proposed legislation.

Republican Senator John Barrasso from Wyoming took the Senate floor to block Schumer’s attempt, asserting that the bill adds new restrictions and burdens on law-abiding citizens. He criticized the legislation as a sweeping ban on many popular types of modern sporting rifles, as well as an infringement on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Barrasso denounced Democrats’ gun grab as a ruse not about safety but rather aimed at restricting lawful gun ownership.

The NRA’s Kozuch expressed gratitude to Senator Barrasso for opposing Schumer’s efforts, stating, “NRA’s millions of members are grateful to Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming for courageously standing on principle and championing the rights of law-abiding Americans and stopping Schumer’s egregious onslaught on the rights of responsible gun owners.”

Democrats, including President Biden, have consistently expressed their intention to ban so-called “assault weapons.” Biden, in a recent statement, reiterated the need to ban assault weapons and “high-capacity magazines.”

The history of Democratic efforts to ban semi-automatic firearms dates back to 1994 when Democrats, including Biden, voted to ban such firearms as part of a major crime bill. The legislation was ultimately incorporated into a broader anti-crime package and included a sunset provision. The ban expired in 2004 during the presidency of George W. Bush and Republican control of Congress.


Citing Department of Justice studies from 1999 and 2004, the NRA argued that the ban failed to achieve its intended impact on reducing gun violence. The organization contends that the proposed assault weapons ban represents a flawed and ineffective approach to addressing the complex issue of gun violence in the United States.

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Firearms

Winter Shooting Sports: Embracing the Chill for Outdoor Excitement

Unknown competitor in IBU Youth&Junior World Championships Biathlon

Some people like to hibernate like bears all winter long. Shooting sports enthusiasts, however, start lathering at the mouth when there’s a little nip of cold in the air. It’s their time to experience the great outdoors on their own terms. 

Still, the cold season comes with challenges that simply don’t exist during the warmer months – that’s part of what makes winter outdoor sports so rewarding. 

There are a number of winter shooting sports beyond what you might typically think of when we talk about “winter shooting sports.” If you’re the type of person who loves being outdoors and loves shooting, but gets bored quickly with the “same old, same old,” this list of winter shooting sports works as a guide for trying something new and fresh during the winter months. 

Ice Shooting

Ice shooting is a specialized target practice taking place on frozen bodies of water like lakes and ponds. Ice shooting is about precision marksmanship while standing on ice or on specially designed platforms. The challenge lies in maintaining stability and ensuring the ice is safe for shooting.

Note that this can be a very dangerous sport if not done properly for many of the same reasons that ice fishing can go wrong. Remember that falling under cracked lake ice can turn not just dangerously unpleasant, but deadly in the blink of an eye. However, if you’re able to maintain proper safety, this can be an excellent activity for those looking to get a little extra time outdoors during the winter months. 

Biathlon

Unlike most of the “Athlon,” this isn’t a summer track and field event, but rather a winter sport with a strong shooting component. The biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. It sounds like a weird combination, but it has its roots in the military training of Northern Europe. This is a great challenge for people who like intense cardiovascular activity: Athletes must endure intense physical exertion while maintaining their composure (and thus, their accuracy) on the shooting range.

It’s also a great activity for any shooter looking to increase their stress tolerance and thus their ability to shoot under pressure. In the event that you ever have to defend yourself or your family with a firearm, you are going to be under absolutely enormous amounts of stress. While a biathlon is certainly not the same as defending your family against an armed intruder, it can help you prepare for that scenario by making you shoot under stress.

There are also variations of this sport that you can set up for yourself, such as the snowshoe biathlon and the snowmobile biathlon, both of which are about exactly what they sound like. 

Precision Rifle Shooting

If you’re a big fan of precision rifle shooting, then the colder winter months are going to be a dream come true for you. The dense air of the colder months provides additional stability for fired rounds. On the other hand, the extreme cold conditions can make accuracy a greater challenge for some. 

One of the cool things about precision rifle shooting during the winter months is that you will likely find your skills improved when the warm weather returns. Sure, you’re going to have to deal with the less dense (and thus, less stable) air of the warmer months of the year. However, on the other hand, you’re going to get a crash course in shooting under less than optimal conditions. 

Winter-Specific Equipment For Outdoor Shooting Sports

You will need winter-specific equipment and gear for winter outdoor shooting sports. Don’t assume that what works in October is going to work in January. 

  • Cold-Weather Clothing: Layer your clothing for winter weather, starting with moisture-wicking materials at the base, insulating clothing for a medium layer, and waterproof or water-resistant clothing for the outer layer. Don’t forget insulated gloves. 
  • Firearms: Cold weather has a serious impact on your firearms. You should use firearms specifically designed for the cold weather of winter months, as well as use lubricants designed for cold weather use.
  • Optics: The frigid temperatures of the winter months can fog up your lenses, severely impacting your optics performance. Anti-fog solutions like wipes exist. Lens covers are another way to help maintain clarity of visibility. 
  • Ammunition: If you are participating in cold winter outdoor sports, choose ammunition that is specifically designed for use in the colder months of winter. 

Staying Safe During Winter Shooting Sports

It’s not just that the winter months present special challenges for those practicing shooting during the winter months. It’s also that the cold itself can be dangerous, or cause dangerous situations. So if you want to stay safe, you have to remember the following:

  • Frostbite Prevention: Protecting exposed skin and extremities to avoid frostbite is absolutely necessary. Be aware of the early signs of frostbite, such as numbness or tingling, and take measures to warm up when necessary.
  • Cold-Weather Ailments: Prepare for cold weather problems like hypothermia and dehydration. Layered clothing and protecting your extremities will help with the former, but the latter means making sure you keep drinking while you’re out in the elements. 

Winter shooting sports can be a unique and challenging experience for firearms enthusiasts. What’s more, there can be quite a bit of carry-over to shooting during the warmer months of the year. Learn to love the chill and you can get a sense of achievement from winter shooting sports as well as a closer connection with the great outdoors. 

What’s your favorite shooting sport for the winter months? What’s the most unusual shooting sport for the winter months? Share your craziest winter sports in the comments below.

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