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Why Are Sawed Off Shotguns Illegal

    In the U.S., unless an individual has obtained an ATF-issued permit, possessing a sawed-off rifle with less than an eighteen-inch barrel is prohibited. Shotguns held under the Certificate of Suppression are limited by a statutory minimum barrel length of 24 inches (61 cm), but no limit is placed on total length, meaning handguns with a grip on the gun alone are legal, although barrels will be longer than in most sawed-off shotguns. To make the rifles less concealable, many jurisdictions set minimum legal lengths of the shotgun barrels. The act of cutting a rifle barrel below 457 millimetres (18 in) in length, either by sawing, cutting, orotherwise, by someone other than an established firearms manufacturer, is prohibited.

    Under the National Firearms Act of 1936, a rifle that is shorter than the 18-inch minimum is considered to be a sawed-off or modified barrel shotgun. If a factory-made pump-action shotgun has less than an 18-inch barrel, it is legal if it has an overall length greater than 660 millimetres, or 30 inches, and its action is operated manually, like a pump-action. That means that if you were to take a pump-action shotgun and reduce, or saw, the barrel down to under 18 inches, and change the stock to an overall length of under 26 inches, you would have a Crude 12 gauge manufactured.

    Cutting has dramatic effects on two- barreled shotguns, or one-shot guns, since you can cut down any length of the barrel. The bullet travels much faster from a cut barrel than it does from a normal barrel. Compared to the standard rifle, the sawed-off, shorter barrel spits out pellets in a wider arch.

    Unlike other shotguns with longer barrels and stocks, a sawed-off is easy to conceal when carrying. Unlike your average rifle, you can store your sawed-off in the front seat of your vehicle. Unlike a full-length shotgun, you can wave your sawed-off at tight range.

    Unlike a full-length shotgun, sawed-off models are concealed, which allows a shooter to shoot a sawed-off rifle from within a building. The sawed-off design makes it easier to conceal, but it also decreases the guns ability to hit a person from a distance. While it may make a gun easier to handle and conceal, sawed-off rifles are less practical than their standard-barreled counterparts. Although their muzzle velocity is lower and their barrels are shorter, sawed-off shotguns are perfect for short-range engagements.

    Sawed-offs are much less accurate than standard rifles, with poor recoil and durability. As we show below, sawed-offs do have a few drawbacks, which makes it impossible for them to function like standard shotguns in most situations. While sawed-off shotguns have several legitimate uses (the military and police use the weapons heavily), the stereotyped broken-action sawed-off remains firmly in gangster hands. This means that they can be extremely dangerous, and there is an existing law that is designed to protect the general public and law enforcement officers from unsafe situations.

    Short-barreled muzzle-loaded blackpowder rifles, by contrast, are not prohibited under federal law, nor do they need tax-stamped permits, though they can be prohibited under state law. When the act was passed, guns were included on the prohibited weapons list, along with shotguns that had a short-barreled barrel. Any firearm that is capable of firing rifle-style ammunition manufactured after a minimum of 18 barrels were established is considered an illegal short-barreled shotgun. In the United Kingdom, single-, double-, and triple-barreled shotguns, and those having lever-action, pump-action, semi-automatic, and fixed-capacity magazines with no more than three cartridges, are all legal when carrying a valid shotgun certificate, and comply with basic firearms possession safety requirements in the United Kingdom.

    Weapons of these specifications are classified under the categories of smoothbore handguns manufactured in the heavier rifle and 12/20-gauge rifle cartridges, in contrast with the unlawful sawed-off shotguns, and are not considered to be destructive devices. Penal Code SS33215 makes the possession of a short-barreled rifle or sawed-off shotgun illegal across California.

    As a non-NFA gun, you have to register your sawed-off rifles with ATF and pay the $200 fee–just as you do for full-auto rifles or suppressors–before you can legally manufacture or possess such weapons. To convert an existing rifle with shoulder stocks into a short-barreled rifle, or an existing pistol-grip-only rifle into aany other gun, private citizens must pay the standard $200 NFA tax. To comply with the NFA regulations, any person can fill out Form 1 Make Form, purchase, and get approved the $200 U.S. tax stamp on the rifle in question, to legally shorten the barrel to under 18 inches, either by cutting off the barrel or replacing it with a shorter one.

    A gun made with a rifle is also a firearm covered under the NFA, so long as the gun, when altered, has a total length less than 26 inches, or has a barrel or cylinder length of less than 18 inches. Short-barreled shotguns with no shoulder stocks and shorter than 26 inches are regulated by the NFA as they are easy to conceal and were popular with criminals at the time of passage of the Act. Regardless of whether AWOLs or short-barreled shotguns are considered sawed-off, ATF regulates these weapons due to the dangers of their use.

    Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), a private citizen may not own a sawed-off, modern, smokless-powder rifle (a rifle having a barrel that is shorter than 18 inches (46 cm) in length, or the total length of the gun, including the 18-inch minimum barrel, is less than 26 inches (66 cm) in length) (under U.S.C. Sawed-off shotguns that are shorter than 30 cm in barrel or shorter than 60 cm in total are similarly prohibited; pump-action shotguns and pump-action shotguns that are longer in barrel size are also prohibited; and self-loading pump-action shotguns and pump-action pump-action pump-action shotguns that are large magazines. To turn a rifle into a sawed-off rifle, a cutting tool must be used to reduce the barrel length to your desired length (which must be specified on Form 1).

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