Vertical Foward Grip Question

Discussion in 'Legal' started by ManBearPig, Oct 28, 2008.

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  1. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig member

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    Ok, I realize that the ATF has decided it is illegal to install a forward grip on a pistol and will charge you for it(even though there is no actual written law against it), unless you get a stamp tax on it.

    But what happens if a person owns an AR-15 style pistol (that can accept a vertical forward grip because it has a bottom rail), but they do not put a forward grip on it since that would be illegal (or at least the ATF master says it would be)........HOWEVER, they have rifles that can have forward grips and so they own forward grips. Would that mean they could still charge a person?
     
  2. Owen

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

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    maybe.

    if you really need to know, write a letter to the ATF
     
  3. kingpin008

    kingpin008 Member

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    +1. When in doubt, seek answers from the source.
     
  4. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig member

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    I guess the safest thing to do, if you own an AR-15 pistol with a bottom rail and you own a rifle that you have a forward pistol grip on, is to get rid of either the forward pistol grip on the rifle or dispose of the bottom rail on the pistol; that way intentional or not intentional, you don't have the means to put a forward grip on a pistol.
     
  5. RX-178

    RX-178 Member

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    IANAL, but my understanding is that prior to the case against Thompson Center, the possession of a pistol with a bottom rail, and a vertical foregrip constituted 'constructive possession', and you could be charged with it.

    HOWEVER, a while ago the ATF attempted to essentially charge anyone owning both a Thompson Center Rifle, and a Thompson Center pistol with 'constructive possession' of an unregistered SBR, since the pistol barrels could fit the rifle frame.

    The ATF lost the case. So, if you do HAVE a rifle with a bottom rail, with a vertical foregrip for it, case law supports that you are not committing 'constructive possession' by also possessing a pistol that the foregrip could be attached to.

    If you own a foregrip, and an AR pistol, but not an AR rifle, then that would be constructive possession, as you could not argue you put the foregrip on rifles, just like you could not argue you used a short barrel for an Encore Pistol if you lack an Encore Pistol frame.
     
  6. DMF

    DMF Member

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    :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

    Once again we see someone on this forum misuse the legal term "constructive possession."

    Once again I will point out that "constructive possession," has nothing to do with the ability to construct an item.

    Once again I will link to the previous explanations of "constructive possession," in what is apparently a futile attempt at preventing continued misuses of that term.

    Here we go with my continued exercise in futility:
    http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=4261086&highlight=Constructive#post4261086

    http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=3992720&highlight=Constructive#post3992720 (This link gives a clear example illustrating the relevant concepts)

    http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=3824770&highlight=Constructive#post3824770

    There are more. :banghead:
     
  7. DMF

    DMF Member

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    You are not correct. A pistol with a forward grip attached does NOT meet the GCA definition of a "handgun," and is therefore an AOW. That is how the law reads. Reference, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(29), which defines a hangun as, "a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand . . ."

    http://www.atf.gov/firearms/041006-vert_grip.htm
     
  8. PTK

    PTK Member

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    DMF

    Thank you for those links - this question had been bothering me as well. VERY informative examples. :)
     
  9. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig member

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    DMF, I know that a forward grip on a pistol falls under the NFA, that's why I was talking about a stamp tax. You have to pay the $200 tax whether you are getting a SBR or an AOW, yes?

    But as far as your "constructive possession", it looks like it's best for a person with forward grips on their rifles and a pistol that has a bottom rail, to just take off the bottom rail on the pistol and dispose of it to avoid any questions or possible problems all together. Correct?
     
  10. scottgun

    scottgun Member

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    The rails are integrated with the forend. The forend covers the barrel for shielding of heat and gives the shooter something to hold on to while firing. So it isn't really practical to take off the forend because it might be used to attach a vertical grip.
     
  11. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    That would be a very dangerous statement in court, because it would acknowledge use of a second grip on the firearm, so if you had been charged with having an illegal AOW you acknowledging it as second grip would be bad.

    Arguably it is only a rail, intended as a way to attach perfectly legal accessories like lights, lasers etc.

    However what is interesting is firearms where it is not a rail, but is instead an actual horizontal grip are legaly sold as regular pistols.
    Firearms such as the Auto-Ordinance Thompson pistol:
    [​IMG]
    The Encore/Contender pistols:
    [​IMG]
    The Ruger Charger (10/22 pistol):
    [​IMG]

    On and on it goes.
    Notice the bipod on the Charger would even itself make an excellent vertical grip if you closed the legs together.

    So is it any clearer?

    These firearms could not be sold in some states under state law if they were AOWs.

    To further complicate matters federal law varies from one Federal district to another based on case law and precedent which is different in every district, unless it is a specific issue that has been address by the US Supreme Court.
    So what is considered what can be different in different portions of the nation. Some districts have precedent that can help win a favorable decision, and some have precedent that can be used against you, and others have no precedent of thier own on some subjects.
    One district may support the view something is an illegaly held AOW, while another may feel it is a legal handgun.
    The Supreme Court of the US picks and chooses which cases it takes on a voluntary basis, so they can never even make it to them.

    The ATF operate in all of those districts.

    Further even when a favorable decision is made by the Supreme Court of the United States, the ATF then undoes thier decision, by saying it only covered something even narrower than it did. As in the Contender case (regarding being able to legaly convert a pistol into a rifle and back swapping barrels, and having a stock while in rifle format), which clearly settled some important issues, which the ATF has since said are not settled, and still have thier own interpretation that conflicts (but not according to them.)
     
  12. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    You pay $200 to manufacture a SBR or AOW, $200 to transfer a SBR and $5 to transfer an AOW.

    While generally talking about machinegun parts, SBR rifles and short barreled uppers, ATF's position also applies to vertical foregrips. ATF takes the position you can have as many of each as you have legal weapons to put them on.

    For example, if you have 5 AR rifles and 1 AR pistol, ATF says you can have 5 vertical foregrips. Having six would place you in possession of 1 unregistered AOW.

    Here is a letter from ATF in which they explain the process. They state if you have one registered M16/AR15 machinegun and also possess some semi-auto AR-15 rifles, you can have exactly one short-barreled AR upper for the machinegun. Possession of two short barreled uppers while having a semi-auto AR-15, you are in possession of a unregistered SBR. If you possessed the M16 machinegun and no other AR firearms, you could have as many short barreled uppers as your heart desires.

    http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/wbardwel/public/nfalist/atf_letter90.txt
     
  13. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Which of course also means if you only have say 1 of each, and one uncomfortable foregrip, and you order a second that might be higher quality or more comfortable you are in violation.
    If however you sell that one to not be in violation, and the new one arrives and you do not like it better than the other one, too bad. Maybe one has qualities better for certain purposes, like a built in light/laser etc and the other has a button that allows it to fold nicely and lock into place? You like each one for different purposes? Too bad, you can only have one.
    Maybe you like one with extra cushion when you put on that .50 upper, but normaly like the other one with .223?
    Too bad. ATF says no.

    Oh, and if you give the extra one to a family member, or friend to hold for you so you don't break the law, you still are breaking the ATF's law because you still have constructive possession (which means you still have control of it even though you don't have actual possession.)
    So you still are in illegal constructive possession of an AOW because you had someone hold your foregrip to not break the law by having more than one for the rifle.
     
  14. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig member

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    "For example, if you have 5 AR rifles and 1 AR pistol, ATF says you can have 5 vertical foregrips. Having six would place you in possession of 1 unregistered AOW"

    Do you mean 5 AR rifles with a bottom rail and one AR pistol with a bottom rail? Or can you have as many forgrips as you want as long as the AR pistol doesn't have a bottom rail? Or what if you own a non-AR rifile with a bottom rail, but your 5 AR-rifles don't have bottom rails and your AR pistol doesn't have a bottom rail......then how many forgrips could you own?
     
  15. scottgun

    scottgun Member

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    Sorry if this is a silly question, but who is going to go through my box of extra gun parts to see if I have one more vertical foregrip than rifles? Or if I buy 2 foregrips for my AR rifle to have an extra or see which one I like better, do I have any intent on installing the vertical foregrip on my AR pistol? Or, I hope this doesn't sound too ridiculous, but I could cut a 4" section of broom handle and attach it to the bottom rail of any forened, does that make it illegal to have a dowel and a jig saw.

    I think it goes beyond silly to have a federal felony to have extra gun accessories laying around that may or may not be attached to the wrong gun.

    The forend is a standard accessory for the PLR-16 rifle, I had no idea that holding on to that is while firing could make it an AOW. There's plenty of videos on youtube of guys shooting it in this manner, are they guilty of posessing an AOW?
     
  16. crazyelece

    crazyelece Member

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    Personally I defer to the courts decision vs. the ATF and the fed court ruling explicitly states that if you possess the parts for a legally assembled firearm then the possession alone is not a violation even if the parts "could" be used to assemble an illegal firearm.

    This is case law and already set as precedent. No matter what the tech branch thinks it can't get past this ruling in court.
     
  17. LAR-15

    LAR-15 Member

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  18. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Well that is great for those in the South Carolina. They can cite that case. However unless it made it higher, to the appellate court of the 4th district, then it is not even a reliable precedent for the 4th District.

    So essentialy the decision in that case means nothing. They could just as easily go the other way in another case in the same district if this one was not appealed higher and got a favorable decision.

    Legal precedent is set by the Appellate Courts.

    Still it is worth entertaining the text.
    You will notice in thier definition of a pistol cited, it is the same as why the ATF says another grip is a violation of law and makes it an AOW.
    That means it could have just as easily gone the other way, and since no legal precedent was set, it still can.


    Even if this had been appealed, and got a favorable decision at the 4th District Appellate Court, it would have only set precedent in that district. It has to be appealed to and then chosen to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States to impact the rest of the nation.

    Yet it didn't even set precedent for the 4th District.



    The ATF's interpretation is that since it is no longer intended to be fired with one hand, it has ceased to be a pistol as defined by statute. If it is no longer a pistol then what is it? To them an AOW.
    As the only reason a pistol is not an AOW is because the definition of what is an AOW states "Such term shall not include a pistol".

    So, you may be able to prevail. The ATF however still considers it a crime and will still charge you for it.
     
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