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September 07, 2004

DRUDGE OFFERS A KERRY GUN FLIP-FLOP REPORT: "KERRY COSPONSORED BILL BANNING GUN HE WAVES."

I believe, however, that the other legal issues mentioned in the story don't apply to guns that are transferred between individuals, as gifts. But statutory firearms regulation isn't a specialty of mine. Perhaps Dave Kopel will know.

Also -- though I'm not positive it's the same gun -- there's no pistol grip in this photograph, though there appears to be one in the Drudge photo. In the second photo it looks like a "Monte Carlo" stock, which might fall under the rather crappy definition in the bill Kerry co-sponsored, but which might not (and shouldn't). So unless there are two guns involved, or I'm missing something, this seems to me to be a bit of a reach. It's more likely an indictment for inept legislative drafting than for hypocrisy.

Anyway, I think Drudge is burying the lede, since this seems like the big deal part of the story to me:

Kerry was presented with the semiautomatic shotgun during a Labor Day stop in Racine, West Virginia.

"I thank you for the gift, but I can't take it to the debate with me," Kerry told a cheering crowd as he held up the device.

Or maybe he's just angling for the Zell Miller vote!

UPDATE: Hmm. On the other hand, here's a gun with a Monte Carlo stock that's described as a "pistol grip," and here's another. So I guess it's not quite so much of a stretch. To me, the term "pistol grip" calls to mind something more along these lines, or like this. But common sense and gun-control legislation seldom go together, as I guess this illustrates. If Kerry could be caught in this position, what innocent gun owner is safe?

Meanwhile reader Boyd Klingler emails: "NYT headline if Bush had said it: Bush Regrets He Can't Shoot Kerry." No doubt.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails:

"In as much as virtually all sport rifles and shotguns have a 'pistol grip' as defined in practice, the focus of SB 23 was on "conspicuous protrusion." Sentence construction indicates that pistol grips that protrude conspicuously constitute an 'assault weapon' feature. Pistol grips that only protrude are not. Determination of whether the protrusion is conspicuous is accomplished by using the action as a reference point. However, the use of this term in the statute introduces another element of vagueness since the 'action' is neither a part nor a specific location on a firearm."

The point, I think, is that the devil's in the details - which is exactly how the antigun lobby likes it. And why it's relevant.

Meanwhile, Kerry may want to fall back on this discussion of the "pistol grip" question and its complexity.

And Charles Austin notes that Kerry has serious problems with gun safety.

MORE: Gunblogger SayUncle thinks the Drudge story is wrong, and offers much more information. On the other hand, reader Brian O'Connor sends a photo, and emails: "The reference to "pistol grip" is accurate. This is a non-pistol grip, on a 1903 Springfield. You see this on some shotguns nowadays, but hardly ever on a sporting rifle." And reader Jack Ward emails:

Ahem. All of the guns pictured so far have a pistol grip, including the one Kerry is waving around. As can be seen in the photo of the folding stock shotgun, a "pistol grip" can take a variety of forms. All monte carlo stocks have a pistol grip, even the thumbhole variety, as do almost all currently manufactured rifles and shotguns. An exception would be the Winchester Model 94 and similar lever action guns. God only knows what our congressmen "The World's Greatest Deliberative Body" (heh) meant by "pistol grip", including themselves.

This is what happens when you legislate based on aesthetics, I guess. Which is all the "Assault Weapons Ban" ever did.

STILL MORE: Dave Kopel weighs in and says Drudge is right:

S. 1431, co-sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, says that an "assault weapon" is any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun with a "pistol grip." According to the bill, "(42) PISTOL GRIP- The term 'pistol grip' means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip." Kerry's new semi-automatic gun has a protrusion below the stock, which a person could grip. The protrusion is not a "pistol grip" in the ordinary meaning of the term, but it is a "pistol grip" as defined by S. 1431.

Lousy legislative drafting, indeed. Though many readers note that the language is probably drafted to cover far more guns than is obvious on its face, in which case it's devious legislative drafting, and Kerry really is guilty of hypocrisy.

STILL MORE: Here's the Browning Citori 525 (either the model Kerry is holding or a close match) -- with a "close radius pistol-grip stock." I guess that makes it a dread Assault Weapon. And yet it looks just like a hunting shotgun!

MORE STILL: I'm wrong about the gun Kerry is holding -- at least, the National Shooting Sports Foundation says it's a Remington 1187. (I confused the gun Kerry was holding in the Drudge photos with the different gun he's using in these photos of unsafe shooting practices. Sorry.) That doesn't change the point much, though, as the NSSF says the Remington would have been covered under Kerry's proposed ban.

But if you want more, Donald Sensing, who knows far more about this stuff than a mild-mannered law professor such as myself, has a thorough post with lots of pictures.