• Walker & Taylor, PLLC

Shotgun Recall: ATF Changes Their Mind on SBS

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

The ATF has done it again! They added another firearm to the list of NFA items that require a tax stamp for lawful ownership—the Origin 12 SBV.

As recently as June of 2019, the ATF changed how they were measuring the total length of firearms for the purpose of classifying them as restricted National Firearms Act ("NFA") firearms. After this change, many good folks fell into hot water because they relied on the previous interpretations of the law. Specifically, with short-barreled shotguns ("SBS"), a major gun manufacturer was forced to take drastic actions in the wake of this change. FosTecH, which manufactures the Origin 12 SBV, is now in the crosshairs.

The Origin 12 SBV, similar to the firearm pictured above, is a firearm that takes 12 gauge shotgun ammunition, has a barrel less than 18 inches, has a pistol stabilizing brace, and has a vertical foregrip. Previously, this item passed muster under the various ATF interpretations and letters. The ATF did not require a tax stamp for this firearm.

Under the new measuring regulations of 2019, this item was found to be either an SBS, or an "any other weapon" ("AOW"). Both would require a tax stamp to lawfully possess.

The main problem with this weapon is the vertical foregrip. ATF argues that the vertical foregrip (sometimes extending to the side of the firearm), causes the firearm to be "designed to be fired with two hands." According to the ATF, the result is a firearm that cannot be a pistol or handgun and, therefore, must be a shotgun. This results in a determination that since it is a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, it must be an SBS which requires a tax stamp to lawfully possess.

You might be wondering: why not just remove the vertical foregrip? Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be a satisfactory fix. The NFA covers all firearms that originate as NFA items. Defining terms with language such as "…designed or redesigned, made or remade..." allow these laws to cover any firearm that has been modified from an NFA item. So, unfortunately, if you purchased an Origin 12 SBV, you are out of luck.

ATF demanded that the best course of action was for FosTecH to recall the now illegally possessed firearms. Then, they would either register them as an SBS or replace the lower receiver with a non-NFA version of the firearm. The alternative is, of course, the complete destruction of the firearm. However, it would be surprising if any gun owner would voluntarily choose this option.

Why is this important to someone who does not own an Origin? There are two main reasons all gun owners should be concerned. First: gun owners need to be aware of the ever-changing interpretations and regulations. The ATF has broad discretion to change their interpretations of the law. We witnessed this in December, 2018 when the ATF reversed a previous interpretation and published regulations banning bump stocks. At the drop of a hat, the ATF can change any of their prior regulations; if they do, you might be in trouble regardless of the type of firearm you own or how long you have owned it.

The second reason gun owners need to be aware is that there are many manufacturers and private sellers who may be lumped in with this new interpretation. For example, the Kalashnikov USA Komrad. This firearm is advertised as a way around the tax stamp requirement. Kalashnikov USA specifically states it is not an NFA item. If the ATF took the time to look at these items or other similar items, it is possible for the ATF to determine that it is an NFA weapon.

Be cautious and stay vigilant. If you have any questions regarding the legality of a firearm purchase, and certainly, if the ATF shows up at your door, contact an attorney in your area.

Author: Curtis Reynolds

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website does not contain legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different, and this material is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of, a licensed attorney.

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