New York State “Accidentally” Bans Pump Action Shotguns


I was talking with the guys behind the NY SAFE Act legal challenge and the one thing that struck me as something no one realizes yet is that the “assault weapons ban” provisions aren’t the section of the law that is “taking your guns.” No, the real trouble is with the magazine capacity restrictions. Because by banning all guns that can accept more than seven rounds, New York State has accidentally banned all of the most popular pump action shotguns. And since no one has really realized the implications of that magazine restriction, I figured it deserved to be explained in its own article.

[The following is based on my conversation with John Tresmond, a Buffalo lawyer who is currently spearheading two lawsuits against New York State for the SAFE Act.]

The way the SAFE Act was structured, it edited multiple sections of the NY legal code in a way where one section didn’t necessarily apply to other sections. So while there was a specific exemption for pump action shotguns and other manual firearms in the “assault weapons” section, according to the lawyers I spoke to it didn’t apply to the magazine capacity restriction section. So, for that section, pump guns are fair game.

That section of the law specifically makes all firearms “capable of accepting” more than seven rounds illegal in the state of New York. While it would appear that this doesn’t apply to shotguns we typically think of as five round guns, the reality is that because the “shorter” 1.75 inch shells are commercially available, the reality is that according to the law those guns are technically 8+ round guns (I’ve personally fit 10 such rounds in my bone stock Remington 870).

This isn’t a problem that can easily be fixed, either. Remington and Mossberg designed their guns with a permanent magazine tube which is integral to the gun. There’s no way to easily modify the firearms to only take five of the smaller rounds.

Even if modified with a smaller magazine, the issue becomes one of the availability of magazine extension tubes. The law talks about a ban on magazines that can be “readily converted” to take more than 10 rounds, and since magazine extension tubes are readily available on the market every single tube fed shotgun applies under the new law.

So, because of the magazine design on the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 shotguns, New York State has accidentally banned them. Good job, New York.