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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, is seeking public comment on their recent “study” on the importability of certain shotguns and, even though the comment process is just a formality that the bureaucrats fully intend to ignore, it is critical gun-rights supporters express their objections to this “study” and its pending implementation in no uncertain terms.

While ATF and the Obama administration are doubtlessly planning to dismiss any comments in opposition to their plans, a strong showing of opposition can help to stiffen the spines of members of Congress, and a poor showing will absolutely be pointed to as proof that people support expanded importation bans.

Comments need not be complicated or extensive, but they do need to be clearly opposed to expanding import bans and, most importantly, they must be submitted in a timely fashion. Intending to send a comment, but never actually getting around to it, does no one any good. The comment period is open now through the end of April. Comments can be submitted via email to shotgunstudy@atf.gov or by fax to (202) 648-9601.

Below is a sample comment you can paraphrase or simply cut and paste into your own email:

Subject: I Oppose Further Restrictions on Shotgun Imports.

I strongly oppose further restrictions on the importation of shotguns and disagree with the findings in the ATF shotgun study.

The constitutional authority for import restrictions based on a vague “Sporting Purpose Test” is highly suspect in light of the recent Heller and McDonald Supreme Court decisions and their previous decision in Miller.

Under the definitions contained in this study, virtually all pump-action and semi-auto shotguns would be banned because all of them are capable of accepting a magazine – box or tube – capable of holding more than 5 rounds. This and other characteristics determined to be “military” in the study are utilitarian and often significantly enhance a gun’s usefulness, particularly for people with disabilities. Denying access to certain designs or features can effectively serve to disarm (for personal defense and sporting purposes) vast numbers of disabled veterans and others with disabilities resulting in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are a variety of popular and growing sports which utilize shotguns with “military” features. These guns are dominant in USPSA, IDPA, IPSC and other popular shooting sports. Refusing to recognize these sports as they relate to shotguns based on the implications such recognition might have on rifle and pistol importability is disingenuous at best.

Applying import restrictions does little more than increase costs and complicate compliance for U.S. shooters and gun owners. Foreign manufacturers remove features and adapt their firearms to comply with U.S. import restrictions, and then U.S. shooters reapply the removed features and modify the firearms back to the desired, original configurations, which can be expensive and legally complicated for U.S. gun owners. Failing to comply with obscure provisions of the laws related to applying after-market features and accessories to imported firearms can result in unintended violation of felony provisions which carrying serious penalties.

ATF should shelve all plans to implement any of the findings of this study.

Respectfully submitted,

Everyone who cares about overreaching government bureaucracy should immediately send an email to shotgunstudy@atf.gov including the above points. Cutting and pasting from this article is fine. Participation is much more important than originality or eloquence.

One of the most important things about this ATF “study” and proposed shotgun importation ban is that it lays the groundwork for much broader, general shotgun restrictions. Importation is not the only place where federal gun laws apply this unconstitutional “sporting purpose test”; it is also found in the National Firearms Act, the laws dealing with machineguns and destructive devices.

Under the NFA, any firearm with a bore greater than .5 inch is a “destructive device” in the same category as mortars and Howitzers. The only exception is for “shotguns which the secretary finds are generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.”

If the secretary (in this case Attorney General Erik Holder) finds that certain styles or types of shotguns, or shotguns with certain features, are not importable because they are unsuitable for sporting purposes, he must then explain why virtually identical guns with those same features are considered suitable for sporting purposes with regard to the NFA. How can he declare them non-sporting on the one hand and not declare identical guns as non-sporting on the other? There can be no doubt that the Brady Bunch and other gun control zealots will be asking that question loudly if ATF and Holder move forward with current import restriction plans.

If these proposed rules for shotgun importation are not stopped now, virtually every pump-action and semi-auto shotgun in existence could be banned – not just from importation, but from possession or transfer. The guns would fall under the same harsh restrictions currently applicable to machineguns.

Please do not delay taking action on this. Your voice matters. Send your comments to shotgunstudy@atf.gov and cc your email to both of your U.S. senators and your representative. Please also add info@FirearmsCoalition.org in your cc so we can get an idea of how much response is being generated.

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