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Courtesy Matthew Larosiere and YouTube
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This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. For a deeper dive into the topics discussed here, check out this week in gun rights at FPC

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has effectively bans “ghost guns”, Puerto Rico takes the first step to recognizing gun rights, Cuomo wants stricter arms licensing, St. Louis bans carrying in parks, a brief at the Supreme Court in the bump stock case, and an injunction sought in a “prohibited person” lawsuit.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro ghost guns
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania AG effectively bans “ghost guns.”

This week Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro earned the praise of gun controllers nationwide when he had the “courage” to cast aside the nondelegation doctrine and unilaterally declare “80%” receivers as “firearms” under Pennsylvania law.

Shapiro announced on facebook live his opinion that “80%” receivers are “firearms” under PA law, accompanied by a promotional video showcasing the construction of a Polymer80 glock, complete with edgy music. Shapiro did this because of course he did, it’s the end of 2019 and a proud social media showcase of a violation of our natural rights is precisely what we have earned as a society.

Long story short, Shapiro issued a legal opinion directing the Pennsylvania state police (PSP) to treat incomplete receivers as “firearms.” The state definition includes weapons which are “designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive; or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.”

This is pretty noncontroversial language, and the “readily converted” language was originally targeted at “starting pistols” designed to fire blanks to start races, but could be converted into a firearm by driving out a plug.

Shapiro saw that language as his way to “do something.” The opinion is a quite circular and frankly embarrassing piece of lawyering. He imports from federal law an interpretation of “may readily be restored,” from the NFA’s definition of “machinegun,” to justify his interpretation that a block of plastic or aluminum is actually “designed” or “readily converted” to operate as a firearm. PA firearms attorney Josh Prince called the move out for what it was: unlawful.

FPC has already filed an emergency injunction to prevent this ludicrous display from harming any Pennsylvanians.


ATF Professional Grade Weeblewobblry

Giving us flashbacks to the bump stock ban and shouldering pistol braces, ATF has again flipped the flop. The Franklin Armory Reformation, a non-SBR short barreled firearm with a buttstock, was reviewed by ATF.

Through a tremendous feat of mental and regulatory gymnastics, the ATF declared the small firearm, which takes a rifle cartridge, is actually a shotgun. But not a shotgun. A special kind of short barreled shotgun so special it needs its own ownership system. Or something.

The ATF did something similar with the FosTech Origin 12, changing it from a “firearm” to a short barreled shotgun.

A certain amount of wanton authority-wielding is expected with administrative agencies, but it must be stressed we are talking about federal criminal law. In its constant flippancy over whether a firearm will land you in prison or not, this is a perfect encapsulation on why the Supreme Court needs to rule in the rule making powers of executive agencies.

Puerto Rico gun laws
(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Puerto Rico takes first step to recognizing gun rights

Despite being under the sovereignty of the United States for over a century, Puerto Ricans have been subject to some of the most restrictive firearms laws in US history. Last week, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed Act 168 into law, which re-vamps the territory’s weapons permit system, imposing a shall-issue system for a permit to possess and carry firearms.

The ownership permits cost $200 and must be renewed every five years for an additional $100. Under 168, a permit to own includes the right to carry and defensively use a firearm. The law also recognizes other U.S. firearm permits.

It’s hard to say that something is a right at all if you have to jump through hoops and pay hundreds of dollars to do it. While Puerto Rico took a good step in the right direction, it’s important to recognize that its residents are still being aggressively short-changed, especially those adults aged 18 to 21, who are denied the right to purchase a gun.

Andrew Cuomo
(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Surprise! New York’s Governor Cuomo wants stricter arms licensing

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shocked us all, I’m sure, when he came out with a proposal to further tighten the screws of gun ownership in New York.

Presently, New York lists a series of “serious misdemeanors” that disqualify residents from firearms ownership (one of which, of course, is unlicensed possession of a firearm). Cuomo wants to “fix” the law so that someone convicted of a misdemeanor in another jurisdiction outside New York, who then has the horrifying misfortune of moving to the Empire State, can’t obtain a firearms license.

We’ve talked a lot about putting up roadblocks in front of the fundamental right to arms. Licensing the exercise of a right is among the most pernicious, insidious violations of right there is.

Misdemeanors are often given unserious treatment by public defenders and prosecutors, with many Americans being coerced to “plea out” to “mere misdemeanors.” Misdemeanors aren’t the type of conduct people should permanently lose fundamental rights for.

World’s Fair Pavilion in St. Louis’s Forest Park (By Kris from Seattle, USAFlickr, CC BY 2.0, Link)

St. Louis bans carrying in parks

On December 13th, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Kewson signed an ordinance banning the carry of firearms in city parks which passed the city council 16-2. This is an obvious response to the state’s recent embrace of constitutional carry. Missouri law allows all non-prohibited adults to carry firearms, with some exceptions. One of those exceptions is “child-care facilities.”

St Louis lashed out against the constitutional carry by declaring the city’s parks and related buildings as “child-care facilities.” Because where else would you want to leave a child, but in the middle of a city park? Regardless, the classification relies on a thin, precarious reading of state law.

It’s likely Kewson’s attempt to force a “loophole” in Missouri’s constitutional carry will fail if (and when) challenged.

Bump Stock Ban
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Reply brief at Supreme Court in Bump Stock Case

The Firearms Policy Foundation filed a reply brief in Guedes v. BATFE, a challenge to the Trump administration’s illegal bump stock ban. The brief outlines the laundry list of reasons the Supreme Court should hear the case and strike down the lower court’s decision upholding the ban, and bring some sanity back to administrative law.

Check out the brief and related press release.

Judge In The Courtroom. Male Judge Striking The Gavel.

Injunction sought in “prohibited person” lawsuit

It might shock you to learn this, but California is pretty bad at recognizing the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The state has an expansive definition of “prohibited person,” and will deny the rights of a person who was convicted out-of-state of a non-violent felony, even when that conviction has been set aside and vacated, restoring the persons’s rights in the very state that took them to begin with.

The Firearms Policy Coalition announced the filing of a motion for preliminary injunction, to stop the state from continuing to deprive non-violent people of their fundamental rights.

“This case and this motion seek to vindicate and restore fundamental rights,” explained the plaintiffs’ attorney, George M. Lee. “We have presented compelling reasons why the State of California, Attorney General Becerra, and the Department of Justice cannot continue to deprive these gentlemen of their right to possess firearms.”

Check out the press release and motion here.


Matthew Larosiere is the Director of Legal Policy at the Firearms Policy Coalition.

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  1. Im worried about this tobacco age of 21. Im not a smoker and I don’t like cigarettes or 2nd hand smoke. But18 is an adult. I know most places want guns increased to 21 but this little step is definitely an infringement on freedom and I am already beginning to see the bar setting up for that age increase.

    • +1

      I’m against the arbitrary age of 21 for anything. If we say a person is legally liable for anything he/she does at the age of 18, then give him/her the whole plate on that birthday. Don’t be splitting up anything into piecemeal portions to be handed out at 18, 21, 25, or 26.

      That includes handguns. And no, we won’t have to worry about juvenile 18-yr-olds going around shooting everyone because they can do that already right now if they really want to. Allow everyone to be armed, and you’ll see a more polite society form quickly.

      • Well Jr. You need to find new friends. There are a lot of 18 year olds that hit the ground running at 18 sign leases for apartments, work full time, go to college, vote, etc. I got there by 19. Had a mortgage, family and a career by 21.

        • Griz: Right on, I left the house at 17 the day after I graduated highschool. Never looked back, been around the world twice, retired with no bills and a hefty sum in the bank and investments. I also raised 2 successful kids, one with a masters degree that she paid for and is now the Chief Operations Officer of a prestigious company and the other with only a highschool education that has owned his own very profitable business going on twelve years now.
          Being an adult is not based on age. Its based on individual maturity and inner drive.

        • i don’t have friends.
          legal adult does not equal responsible adult.
          too much wisdom lacking at that early age.
          but congrats on all of y’alls accomplishments.
          you guys really didn’t start working until after high school?

        • Mack the Knife,
          I also left home at 17 and never looked back. Established my own finances, signed up for the militia at 18, earned 3 degrees, started my own business in my 20’s which still prospers.

      • That’s part of the problem. If an 18-yr-old is told he’s an adult no matter what, and you raise the bar of expectation high, he/she will often rise up to meet it. What they want is respect (as do we all, to a large degree), and if they see that behaving in a mature manner will earn them such respect from responsible adults, they’ll usually want it.

        An 18-yr-old is an adult. It’s more correct to say that many of them today don’t act as adults, and need to be reminded of their station.

        • If they’re seriously disrespectful at 18-20 they will still be assholes at 60 (provided they live that long). In fact, they’ll likely be worse because after four decades they’ll think they’ve “earned” something.

          See your local watering hole for examples-o-plenty.

      • That’s because everybody seems to be a kid these days. I remember people who grew up during the Depression who were fighter pilots before their 19th birthday.

      • I know plenty of children in their 30s. I’ve also known many 17 and 18 year olds who proved they were more than adults.
        Stop stereotyping.

    • If the can fiddle around with the bottom of the age scale to remove your rights, just wait until they start messing with the top of the scale. Oh, you are 65? Time to turn in your firearms because you could be in the beginning stages of dementia. Nobody cares about old people now, and it will probably get worse watching all of the boomer hate. It will not be hard to do. Give it a few more decades after that and people will be at the carousel screaming “RENEWAL!” for all of the 30 year olds.

        • If the gem is red, report to Carousal and ‘Renew’.

          Or be a runner, but watch out for ‘Box’…

      • If there is any group that will start a war over 2nd Amendment rights infringement, it’s senior citizens; especially retired senior citizens.

        • That’s certainly possible. It would not really surprise me. It’s just that so many people out there operate on lies and distortions that few actually understand any part of what’s really happening. when you combine that with all the fear, anger, and anxiety that is so heavily pushed….who knows what drug crazed lunatic what fire that first shot. Everyone seems to feel we are all on the verge of all out war. It might not take much. What the Washington left is doing is so completely and irresponsibly nuts.

          NOT promoting the general welfare.

      • M1Lou,

        This is exactly what I’ve always thought when I’ve heard of 21 as a “minimum” age. If society establishes this and doesn’t stop it, then there’s no argument against the upper end of the spectrum.

        Also, +1 for the Logan’s Run reference.

      Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

      The USA would save many billions of dollars a year on health care by banning the growing of tobacco, the making of it into various smoking products and placing all current farmers, factory and retail workers on a special welfare for the rest of their lives at their prior earnings.

      Plus, nearly a half million lives.

      On the other hand I’ve no problem with sick people using pot or pot derivatives. That shit does seem to work.

      • Im a nurse, I don’t support smoking. I know the numbers but I support individual choice. Pretty soon similar CDC numbers you pulled for anti-smoking will be pulled by anitgunners in support of increasing the age limit to purchase all guns to 26.

        • Second hand smoke is a myth. CDC studies of cigar smoking prove it. You’re exposed to FAR more “second hand” smoke smoking cigars and there is no statistical link between cigars and lung cancer.

      • Ban tobacco. Because bans and prohibition worked so flawlessly on opioids, booze, weed and anything else that people want, but what one day became a contraband.

        During Third Reich each radio receiver had a mandatory tag reminding the listener that tuning to enemy’s stations is punishable by death. People still listened to London every night.

        My representative recently proudly announced that he fervently and fearlessly fights to ban vape juice. For the children! There’s no way that could backfire!

    • Florida already did it for firearms last year – they made it 21yrs for any firearm, yet it is legal for 15 year olds to drive, and everyone knows more people die in motor vehicle incidents than firearms related and 18 year olds to vote. Yet Demoncrap want to lower the voting age to 16. Go figure!

  2. Still waiting on details for out of state misdemeanors barring pistol permits. Last version I saw does diddly for rifles shotguns and “firearms” as those do not require permits. So yet more poorly thought out court bait.

  3. If you think the corrupt Supreme Court will agree to hear the bump stock ban your living in La La land.

    As far as the ghost guns. They are a source of unvetted arms for criminals and psychopaths with no serial numbers and are not traceable. No other industrialized nation on the planet allows such insanity.

    • If you think that gun control will survive the next decade, you’re delusional. You lost. Your party is going down in flames and half are going to flee the country in 12 months to avoid summary execution for treason.

    • “In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example … of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness.” – James Madison, Essays for the National Gazette, 1792

    • As if being able to ‘trace’ a firearm actually means anything. This isn’t Hollywood where any conflict can be resolved within 30 minutes to an hour. In quite a few places in the US, that serial number goes no further than the paperwork at the FFL level. At best, the only accuracy is to find the original buyer. After the gun gets stolen six times, no one knows anything anymore. At that point, it’s all on other forms of tracing things. Such as finger prints. A point where a serial number only serves to indicate the weak security of any federal, state, or local storage facility.

      • Correct! Imagine discovering that the victim was shot with a .38. “Quick! Arrest the 40 million people who have registered .38 Special, .357 magnum, 9×19, or .380 handguns or rifles, and line them all up outside my door for interrogation!”
        The only legitimate and conceivable use for serial numbers is registration, and the only conceivable use for registration is door-to-door confiscation.

      • How often does a criminal leave his firearm at the scene of a crime? In the movies they will find a gun at the crime scene and the serial number will be traced, prints will be taken, and ballistics will be run. In real life, bad guys tend to keep their guns and don’t let them lying around for the cops to find.

  4. “perfect encapsulation on why the Supreme Court needs to rule in the rule making powers of executive agencies.”
    But the Supreme Court has ruled in that last 12 months on several cases upholding the supreme law of rule making powers of executive agencies.
    I don’t think they will treat ATF any differently than they have treated any other alphabet soup agencies in the past year.

  5. “St Louis lashed out against the constitutional carry by declaring the city’s parks and related buildings as ‘child-care facilities.’”
    I hope that St. Louis files all the permits, complies with all the licensing requirements and vetting requirements of all of their employees to fully comply with child-care facilities laws and regulations and that a barrage of inspectors are sent out to ensure that they as any other child care facilities are in full compliance with the laws. They better ensure no child prohibited persons work for the parks department. Were I a parent there I would be already conducting my investigation into each and every park employee’s background.

  6. Why would anyone be afraid of a ghost gunm unless they were a ghost. Does anyone know a ghost? I knew a spook but whether or not he was afraid of spookgunms I do not know, he wasn’t much for talking about shit. Perhaps Pennsylvania is talking shit?

  7. Why is anyone who wishes to have a gun without the government knowing about it considered a criminal now?
    Show me a crime that was solved or even better prevented by firearms registration that would not of been solved any other way. Then justify those really small numbers against all law abiding folk bei by on lists.

  8. Cuomo, Schiff, AOC, that cat that just pushes something nasty out – they all have something in common. And I don’t mean their IQ. Just look at their pictures – do you see it too?

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