Is a gun a gun? Not really. We all use the terms “Gun” and “Firearm” pretty interchangeably but are they the same or are they all in a certain category? Most people we talk to don’t realize there are several definitions for “Firearms” and as such should be considered when talking about the law. The law doesn’t consider everything to just be a “gun” and make it simple.
I thought it would be helpful to review some definitions, courtesy of the National Firearms Act (NFA) Handbook. This might give you a much better feel for what they view as a “firearm” and it might very well be different from yours.
- Shotgun – A firearm fired from the shoulder, designed to use a fixed shotgun shell, fired through a smooth bore of a barrel, with single or multiple projectiles with the single pull of the trigger. And if the barrel is less than 18 inches, it is subject to NFA restrictions.
- Rifle – A firearm fired from the shoulder, fires a single projectile through a single pull of the trigger, through a rifled barrel. If the barrel is less than 16 inches is subject to NFA restrictions.
- Weapon made from a rifle – This is a firearm with an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel(s) less than 16 inches.
- Any other Weapon – These are firearms considered as AOW (any other weapon) and are weapons or devices capable of being concealed from which a shot can be fired. Think of most of these as “disguised weapons” such as pen guns, cigarette lighter guns, cane guns, umbrella guns, knife guns, etc. This is an interesting class that fits about everything that doesn’t have a set definition as a firearm.
- Machine Gun – These are firearms that are designed to shoot automatically, more than one shot without reloading with the single pull of the trigger. A frame or receiver is also considered part of the machine gun definition because the receiver is an NFA firearm.
- Weapon made from a Shotgun – This is a firearm that is a shotgun-type weapon with an overall length less than 26 inches and barrel(s) less than 18 inches.
- Silencer – These are “any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm.” It is important to realize this definition, like with a machine gun, includes a combination of parts intended for use in assembling/fabricating a firearm silencer.
- Destructive Device – These are groups or categories of devices that describe types of munitions…not very common with most people.
- Explosive Device – These are devices that fit into two different definitions. First are devices that are explosive, incendiary, and poison gas munitions. The second are large caliber or other type of weapon that shoots a projectile because of an explosion other propellant – like a rocket launcher for example.
There you have the list that was compiled based on the NFA Handbook and should be a good guide for you to use as you identify your firearm collection and what can go into a Gun Trust and what can’t. It is important to know which items have NFA restrictions and which do not. When I talk with clients this is a list we would use to discuss how to handle their firearms in their trust to make sure they are protected.