December 4, 2023
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Sig Sauer MPX SBR with Midwest Industries handguard, Eotech EXPS3 and GG&G backup iron sights.

The Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, has issued an opinion clarifying that the Florida legal definition of a “short-barreled rifle” does not include a pistol to which a stabilizing brace has been attached, even if the stabilizing brace is used as a stock. From

Unless and until judicially or legislatively clarified, I conclude that the definition of “short-barreled rifle,” which the Legislature enacted in 1969, does not include a handgun, such as a pistol, to which a person attaches a stabilizing brace, because the use of a such an optional accessory does not change the fundamental characteristics of the handgun.

The Florida statute banning the possession of short-barreled rifles was passed in 1969, shortly after the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed by Congress at the urging of President Lyndon Johnson. From Florida Statutes 790.001(16)

(16) “Short-barreled rifle” means a rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches.

The short-barreled rifles were added to the federal National Firearms Act in 1934 as an afterthought by the actions of a Minnesota Congressman, Harold Knutson. Knutson was a man of dubious sexual proclivities who used his position on the Ways and Means Committee to have the Roosevelt Administration add short-barreled rifles to the items, which required a $200 tax and to be registered with the Federal government.

The Roosevelt administration never considered short-barreled rifles to be a significant criminal problem. They were focused on handguns.

In 1961, 27 years later, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), then a part of the Department of the Treasury, officially defined shoulder-stocked pistols as short-barreled rifles. They defined the most common shoulder-stocked pistols, Mausers and Lugers, into the curio and relic category (effectively removing them from the definition of short-barreled rifles) in 1981.

Shoulder stocks had been available for pistols as long as there have been pistols. Many people found that adding a shoulder stock to a pistol aided its accuracy.

Banning an entire class of firearms that are in common use is not allowed by the Second Amendment, as held in the Heller decision and clarified in the Bruen decision in 2022. Short-barreled rifles were common and advertised prior to 1934. Several hundred thousand have been registered under the onerous regulations and tax requirements of the National Firearm Act. Pistols with shoulder stocks should never have been added to the NFA.

Congressmen have been educated beyond what they were in 1934 and 1968. Those who want to disarm the American people resort to silly argument about how adding a shoulder stock to a pistol makes it “more powerful”. They also claim it is still as concealable as a pistol. Adding a shoulder stock makes a pistol less concealable.

Shoulder-stocked pistols have historically been hindered by the same short sight radius that exists for regular pistols. Micro red-dot optical sights have increased the practical accuracy of a shoulder-stocked pistol to virtually the same as a pistol caliber carbine.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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