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Firearms Facts Episode 2:

Legal lengths of shotguns and rifles


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A sawed-off shotgun or a short-barreled shotgun (U.S. legislative terminology), is a type of shotgun with a shorter gun barrel and often a shorter or absent stock.

Sawed-off shotguns are subject to various legal restrictions depending upon jurisdiction. Not always a tool of criminals, such firearms have been and are still in use by military forces and police agencies worldwide.

Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), it is illegal for a private citizen to possess a sawed-off modern smokeless powder shotgun (a shotgun with a barrel length shorter than 18 inches or an overall length shorter than 26 inches, without a tax-paid registration from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, requiring a background check and either a $200 or $5 tax for every transfer, depending upon the specific manufacturing circumstances of the particular sawed-off modern shotgun being transferred. Short-barreled muzzleloading blackpowder shotguns, in contrast, are not illegal by federal law and require no tax-stamped permit, although they may be illegal under state law. As with all NFA regulated firearms, a new tax stamp must be purchased before every transfer. Inter-state transfers must be facilitated through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) while intrastate transfers may be between two persons.

In the US, shotguns originally manufactured without shoulder stocks, having their barrels shortened to under 18 inches, are classified as an "Any Other Weapon" by the BATFE and have a $5 transfer tax, if they are manufactured by a maker possessing the appropriate Class 2 Special Occupational Taxpayer Federal Firearms License. However, in order to convert an existing shoulder-stocked shotgun to a short-barreled shotgun or an existing pistol-grip-only shotgun to an "Any Other Weapon", a private citizen must pay the standard $200 NFA tax.

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