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Shooting Industry November 2011 Digital Edition - Page 20
Defense Personal Defense Market T Avoiding The Unintentional Illegality Massad Ayoob he case that inspired this reached for payment. column concerned a man Yeah, I know. You saw it in his late 20s who became coming, didn’t you? interested in guns and bought That’s because you’re a a couple. He discovered he firearms industry professional, enjoyed shooting recreationand you know the ins and outs. ally, and liked the security Unfortunately, the young of the concealed carry percustomer was a new gun mit he had just acquired. He enthusiast just buying his decided to buy a third gun, third firearm. Like a stamp purely for plinking. collector acquiring his third In this case, the third stamp, he didn’t know the time was not the charm. His ropes yet. first two purchases were A “dedicated bipod” would solid, affordable choices as have been perfectly legal on all-around firearms of their the .223 semiauto pistol, as type: a .357 Magnum revolvthey are on other similar fireer, and a 12-gauge, slidearms that come from factories action shotgun. He decided Firearm regulations may not be the most interesting reading, but so equipped. Unfortunately, his third purchase should be knowing them is important to your business. the operative term in “compurely for fun: something bination vertical foregrip and challenging to shoot, maybe even a to accessorize. He bought a red-dot opti- bipod” is vertical foregrip. While the conversation piece. cal sight. Then, he asked for a bipod. The useful little vertical foregrip would have He chose a very reliable .223 rifle de- gun shop salesman showed him a verti- been perfectly legal on an AR-15 rifle, it sign, adapted by its manufacturer to be cal foregrip, which turns into a bipod at is prohibited under federal law to have a pistol with a 9-inch barrel. The one he the touch of a button. Cool! The customer a second vertical foregrip on a pistol. bought came with Picatinny rails, and the loved it, and the store clerk installed both That attachment put the gun into the Any eager new gun enthusiast was in the mood accessories for him as the young man Other Weapon (AOW) category. Share The Knowledge T he violation was discovered and treated by the prosecution as if it had been a suitcase nuke. I was called in as an expert witness for the defense team. I recommended they contact the firearm’s manufacturer so they could explain the rifle-like handgun was designed, advertised and sold to sport shooters who wanted long-range varmint handguns and fun plinkers. The manufacturer provided an excellent letter to that effect. I also recommended the case needed an advocate to make the argument for the mercy of the court — not an expert. The fact was the young man had possessed a firearm that was technically illegal under federal law, only because he lacked the $5 tax stamp for a government-approved AOW. The defense lawyer agreed. The attorney managed to “ It is imperative owners of gun shops share their knowledge of legalities with their entire staff. get the charge dropped. It was a miraculous piece of lawyering. I wasn’t able to touch base with the gun dealer involved, but the lawyer told me the gun shop and its owner had escaped prosecution. Not all dealers will be so lucky under such circumstances. The owners and managers of gun shops are the ones who go to SHOT Show and take the seminars conducted by ATF on the subtle, arcane fine points of what is and is not legal. So far, so good, but it is imperative they share this detailed knowledge with their entire staff. It was a counter clerk who sold and fitted the technically illegal vertical foregrip in this case, and that unwitting act put the shop itself, and its owner, in tremendous legal and financial jeopardy. Come See Our NEW Website! www.shootingindustry.com www.shootingindustry.com ” 20 NOVEMBER 2011 Subscribe to SI DIGITAL