“A Shoestring Is A Machinegun”
By The Liberty Crew
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
No kidding. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(BATFE) has declared that an actual shoestring can be a machinegun. As
explained in its September 2004 letter to a citizen, BATFE’s Firearms
Technology Branch (FTB) made this magical ruling:
In 1996, the FTB examined and classified a 14-inch long shoestring with a loop
at each end. The string was attached to the cocking handle of a semiautomatic
rifle and was looped around the trigger and attached to the shooter’s
finger. The device caused the weapon to fire repeatedly until finger pressure
was released from the string. Because this item was designed and intended to
convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun, BATFE determined that it was a
machinegun as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b).
Make no mistake: the BATFE says that the shoestring itself is a machinegun.
How could that ruling make any sense? The National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C.
§ 5845(b), defines “machinegun” as:
Any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to
shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single
function of the trigger.
So far, no surprises. But § 5845(b) also defines “machinegun”
...any part designed and intended solely and exclusively...for use in
converting a weapon into a machinegun ...
The shoestring, looped around the trigger, the cocking handle of the rifle, and
the shooter’s finger, was “designed and intended” to convert
the rifle into a machinegun. Therefore, according to BATFE, the shoestring
itself is a machinegun.
Watch the Word Wizardry
Did you catch BATFE’s word trick? Keep in mind that phrase from §
5845(b) quoted above: “any part intended and designed solely and
exclusively for use in converting ...” Consider these facts:
A shoestring is not intended and designed solely and exclusively for
converting a firearm into a machinegun. A shoestring’s primary use is to
fasten shoes. Shoestring manufacturers do not intend the shoestrings to be used
for any other purpose whatsoever.
The fellow who rigged up that shoestring to operate the rifle’s trigger
did not “design” the shoestring. The shoestring came ready-made for
use in shoes, not in guns.
Because the shoestring was not intended or designed to convert a rifle into a
machinegun, the shoestring is not a machinegun.
Now look again at the BATFE letter’s wording (above). The letter says the
shoestring “was designed and intended to convert a semiautomatic rifle in
a machinegun.” Notice the letter does not say the
shoestring was designed and intended “solely and exclusively”
for that use.
Thus, the BATFE deliberately ignored the limiting language “solely and
exclusively.” To be illegal under the § 5845(b), a modification must
be “designed and intended solely and exclusively” to convert a
rifle into a machinegun. The BATFE deliberately omitted the “solely and
phrase so they could illegalize a shoestring.
“Yeah, but ...”
But wait – isn’t the “loop at the end” of the
shoestring a “design” that was “intended” for the
illegal purpose? Maybe so, but a looped shoestring could have other purposes,
including extracting “baby teeth” by looping one end around a tooth
and the other around a doorknob. A looped shoestring does not have a sole and
exclusive purpose. A looped shoestring differs greatly from any of the actual
components of a firearm. Most firearm components are made for the specific,
sole and exclusive purpose of fitting into and assisting in the operation of
the firearm. Those components just don’t have any other uses.
When § 5845(b) uses the term “parts,” that term reasonably
means the machined and crafted parts of a firearm or conversion kit. Paper
clips, shoestrings and other common household materials should not be defined
as “machineguns.” Judges and bureaucrats should not strain legal
language to maximize the number of things that are illegal and to punish as
many people as possible.
Is BATFE Your Federal Friend?
The shoestring-machinegun example shows how far BATFE will stretch to prosecute
“the gun laws on the books.” Now you should see the videotape of
BATFE experts test firing a rifle they claimed was converted into a machinegun.
BATFE said they proved a machinegun conversion, but a real gun expert proved
that the rifle was not a converted machinegun – it was a dangerously
Get your copy of the BATFE video (VHS or DVD) for $17.76 (postage paid). Show it
to fellow shooters and gun clubs. With it you’ll also receive FREE a copy
of the freedom booklet “Is America Becoming a Police State?” (a
$3.00 value), and copies of the BATFE confiscation report and Len
Savage’s expert witness report on this outrageous case.
You need to know what the BATFE will do to prosecute you.
Visit jpfo.org or call (800) 869-1884 to obtain your copy of this revealing
Copyright 2005, by Aaron
Zelman. Permission is granted to reproduce this article in full, provided that
JPFO contact information, website and phone number are included. J.P.F.O., Inc.
* P.O. Box 270143 * Hartford, WI 53027 * (262) 673-9745 * (800) 869-1884.