Thursday, July 2, 2009

Not sure whose wrong?... easy! use some logic

Wilco has left a comment on my blog "LEGAL STATUS OF PISTOL GRIPS AND THUMBHOLE STOCKS” I would like to respond to this here as the points (he?) raised are relevant.

The gist of what Wilco claims is the same as the police, that any stock that has a design which has an “obvious pistol grip that allows a full hand pistol grip” qualifies as an MSSA pistol grip. The Police say that the H&K SL8 “retains the functionality of a pistol grip and much of the appearance and thereby falls within the definition of being MSSA”.

The issue then is that any pistol grip which retains the functionality and appearance of a pistol grip qualifies as MSSA.

Logically all pistol grips retain the functionality and appearance of a pistol grip. Right?

Logically all pistol grips are obvious and allow a full hand pistol grip. Right?

Heck if if didnt look like a pistol grip or function like a pistol grip then obviously its not a pistol grip.

Essentially... if looks like a pistol grip and it feels like a pistol grip then its a pistol grip .... we can all agree on that !

So what that means is that the Police claim all pistol grips retain the functionality and appearance of a pistol grip and are obvious and allow a full hand pistol grip and therefore are MSSA. Right? So all pistol grips are MSSA - call this FACT (A)

Now what the law says is this

All flash suppressors are MSSA. That means if we divide the flash suppressors into two buckets – MSSA flash suppressors and Non MSSA flash suppressors. We have all flash suppressors in the MSSA bucket and none in the non-MSSA bucket. So the whole population of flash suppressors are MSSA. Right?

Collapsible and telescopic stocks are MSSA. So two buckets again – one full of collapsible / telescopic stocks MSSA, the other bucket has all other stocks non-MSSA. You can start to see the logical point…. if there is a subset qualifier of what is MSSA then by implication there must be two groups – one group MSSA and another group non-MSSA. The subset qualifier in this case is "Collapsible and telescopic stocks" Out of all stocks (the whole population) there is a percentage that are MSSA but not 100 percent... meaning the balance left after taking out all the collapsible and telescopic stocks are not MSSA.

Same thing with magazines – First bucket, magazines that hold or appear to hold more than 7 rounds (MSSA), second bucket all the others (non-MSSA)

So now let’s look at pistol grips. There is a qualifier. All pistol grips that are military pattern, free standing pistol grips in our first bucket (MSSA), second bucket all other pistol grips (non MSSA). So this means that there are, according to the Arms Act s2, non-mssa pistol grip options for semi-automatic rifles.

Fact B the legislation says - not all pistol grips are MSSA (military pattern free standing pistol grips.)

So fact B DISPROVES fact A

Having a pistol grip on a semi-automatic rifle does not neccesarily mean the rifle is then an MSSA. Even if it has an obvious pistol grip, that looks like a pistol grip and functions like a pistol grip, that does not mean the pistol grip is a military pattern free standing pistol grip. Obvious functional pistol grips that look like pistol grips are perfectly legal on A Cat semi-autos as long as they are not military pattern free standing.... unless of course you can prove that all pistol grips are free standing military pattern pistol grips... which brings us back to FACT B... (the laws says NOT ALL pistol grips are free standing military pattern)


Gary said...

Some more thoughts…

Clearly the success of Richard’s case will rest on demonstrating that the feature in question, the thumbhole stock of the SL8, fails to match the feature described in the legislation – a “a military pattern free-standing pistol grip”.

There are a lot of adjectives in that phrase – and, absent any further definition in the legislation, they each have to be given a real and ordinary-language meaning. The drafters of the law didn’t add all those qualifiers just to exercise their literary skills; they did it, we must assume, to limit the intended applicability of the feature.

For the police to carry the day, the court needs to find that an SL8 thumbhole stock meets the description in full. Richard just needs to show that it fails to meet (any) one aspect of it.


Is it a grip? The OED defines a “grip” as “a part or attachment by which something is held in the hand”; so yes, it probably is.

Is it a pistol-grip? Is there sufficient resemblance to the grip of a paradigm pistol (say, a 1911) that it is clearly analogous? The police seem to be arguing that it is, in that it can be held in more-or-less the same way.

An SL8 thumbhole stock is at best an imperfect analogue to a true pistol-grip:

The “look” isn’t that of a pistol-grip; there is no obvious resemblance.

The similarity in how it is held is only approximate. When I hold my pistol, I do it so that the bones of the forearm are in line with the barrel. I can’t hold my SL8 via the thumb-hole to achieve the same thing.

Note that other rifles falling foul of this change may not fail this test. A Dragunov grip, for example, is fairly pistol-like by these criteria.

In passing (and as mentioned in my previous post), I think it’s pretty clear that fore-grips fail the test of being “pistol-like”, in that they are not adjacent to the trigger, not designed to be held by the trigger hand, and bear no obvious resemblance to the grip of a “paradigm” pistol.

Is it free standing? Richard has already exercised this question pretty-well. If it has multiple points of attachment, by design, at top and bottom then it cannot be said to be free-standing.

Is it “military pattern”? Is it a design used in military rifles? I’m not aware of any rifle widely issued to military forces that has a thumbhole stock, in which case a thumbhole stock is not “military pattern”

So an SL8 thumbhole is a grip, may or may not be a pistol grip, but is clearly neither free-standing nor military-pattern. Richard’s case should prevail on points 3 and 4 at least.

Anonymous said...

Thumbhole stocks are not "free standing". End of story; does not meet the requiremnts of the Arms Act.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say I respect what youre doing here Richard, all of my current firearms have thumbhole or dragunov-sytle stocks, as I find them far more comfortable to carry and shoot during long trips in the field.

It is disappointing to learn the police are trying to reclassify these stocks, as lawful firearm owners and enthustiasts we seem to be bung in together with any nutter or criminal who uses a firearm, and I can assume the recent random shootings in Napier and Canterbury are not helping our cause.

We end up facing restrictions on our hobby while the criminals continue to break the law.

Reclassifying a cosmetic component of a firearm isnt going to change its overall capability, not to mention criminals favour sawn-off or sporting weapons which are illegal by way of theft or modification anyway.

This lawmongering is not going to affect criminals in the slightest and it frustrates me that those in power are too naive and ignorant to see this.