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“Most people” including, of course, the ATF. Here’s the section from my article on the proposed pistol brace “guidance” where the whole one-handed thing came up:

But let’s now look at two aspects of federal law. First, what is a “pistol,” anyway?

Pistol. A weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having (a) a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s); and (b) a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Revolvers, for the record, are later defined as a subset of the pistol category with a rotating, chambered cylinder.

The definition above is from the 1934 National Firearms Act. There have been some minor re-writings since (1968 Gun Control Act), but I quoted the NFA to point out that we have now defined pistols as guns designed to be fired when held in one hand for 86 years.

Aspect one: nowhere in the definition of “pistol” is any mention of weight or length. Sorry, but ATF does not get to invent restrictions in the law that do not exist. If I want to shoot a pistol with a one-meter-long barrel (and I have) I’m fully within my legal rights to do so, and for no reason whatsoever does it depart from the definition of “pistol.”

Aspect two: This is just stupid. No one teaches one-handed pistol shooting anymore (outside of competitions where one-handed shooting is part of the game or as a plan B due to injury or extreme proximity to one’s target). No one has since the 70’s.

Every law enforcement and military organization plus defensive and competitive shooters and trainers for all of these groups began phasing out the entire concept of operating handguns one-handed beginning in the late 50’s when the Weaver stance was developed.

Including the ATF:

RIP doggo
RIP doggo
RIP doggo
RIP doggo
RIP doggo
RIP doggo

All photos above are from ATF’s Instagram feed. Incidentally, if you’re looking for a good time I highly recommend reading the comments on practically any photo whatsoever in the agency’s feed, but particularly any photo containing a dog or a fire.

Is ATF in violation of remanufacturing these pistols into SBRs because they were purchased with the clear intent of firing them with two hands? I think not. But since intent is apparently all that seems to matter to ATF, perhaps it should prosecute its agents and armorers.

At any rate, pretending to regulate handguns based on this entirely outdated definition is absurd on its face. Looking at precedent, ATF absolutely does not and has not regularly regulated handguns based on this definition.

For instance, a pistol is still a pistol even if it has a squared-off trigger guard with serrations specifically designed to provide purchase for the shooter’s support hand. A pistol is still a pistol after the addition of an AFG, or Angled Forward Grip, which ATF determined are not forward grips despite the fact that they are, in fact, very obviously forward grips. A pistol is still a pistol if it has a handguard, which I think we understand is thusly yclept due to, you know, the expectation that it’s gripped by one’s hand in order to operate a pistol two-handed.

No one shoots a pistol one-handed anymore, including ATF, and the idea that it’s acceptable to craft determinations, rules, and laws around this outdated, absurd concept is so stupid on its face that it’s entirely ignored by ATF except when it feels like using it to further even more absurd restrictions on our rights.


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