ATF’s Firearms Technology Bureau continues to showcase its enthusiastic participation in “a-pen-and-a-phone” government. Their latest strike has been to declare the X Products Can Cannon (which we have had sitting around, and haven’t shot) to be a very, very weird and risky neither-fish-nor-fowl, embedded in the limbo between categories, and threatening every owner with decades of incarceration from an unwitting malum prohibitum violation.
The Can Cannon is not a Title 1 firearm, and it is not a Title II firearm either — until you attach it to an AR lower. Do that, and per ATF you have committed the unlicensed manufacture of a Title II National Firearms Act Firearm, except in one very narrow circumstance.
You see, if one were to dismantle the Can Cannon, he would have a very short smoothbore barrel that might fire a ball round. (It probably would, but not safely; in any event, ATF does not seem to have actually tried this). Therefore, while it itself is not a firearm (just like, say, an XM177E2 upper is not a firearm), putting it on an AR lower “manufactures” a short-barreled rifle, just like putting an XM177E2 upper on an AR lower would. Since a SBR is an NFA firearm, congratulations! You have just “manufactured a Title II firearm without a license,” a serious felony punishable with a decade or two in Club Fed.
Ah, but what if you put it on a pistol? The short barrel would be of no consequence, then; pistols are supposed to have short barrels. The ATF says in that case you’ve created an “Any Other Weapon” — and it’s still an NFA weapon and a “manufacturing without a license” felony. As they explain it, the barrel of the Can Cannon (which is intended for blanks) is smoothbore, and that makes it an AOW.
It seems clear that ATF began with an a priori determination that the Can Cannon led to people having the wrong kind of fun, and therefore It Must Be Banned. To do this, Kingery, the Jerry Sandusky of firearms analysis, had to molest the law until it was practically unrecognizable.
This is not new behavior from ATF. In 1996, and again in 2004, the ATF classified a 14″ shoelace as a machine gun. (In 2007, in the face of mounting ridicule, they withdrew the rule). In 2010, they attempted to ban Chore Boy scrubbing pads. Each of these ridiculous ban letters was written by a different Firearms Techology Branch head or acting head.
What This Means To…
X Products: They need to redesign the Can Cannon to resolve ATF’s loopy classification. They have done this and have resubmitted to Kingery for further disapproval.
We are submitting a revised design to address the issues in the B.A.T.F.E’s determination letter. We will update our customers throughout this process.
They really don’t have any choice but to keep doing this until something happens, whether it’s Kingery or his minions approving the changes, them being replaced in an administration change or it becoming clear that “examination” by FTB of this weapons accessory is the 21st Century equivalent of a Jim Crow literacy test, where everybody had to show they were literate by reading a newspaper headline, but blacks got the headlines in the Chinese newspaper.
Can Cannon Owners: It means if your CC is on a lower right now, you’re a felon, dude, so take it off straightaway and don’t install it again until X-Products and ATF are done antler rattling. There is one exception: if you have a licensed SBR lower, you can install the Can Cannon upper on that. (We put a toe tag on ours last night, “install only on Colt serial number…..”)
The ATF: Well, it’s one more thing you can arrest somebody for, to draw attention away from the fact that you’ve provided more guns to cop killers than any single entity in history. (But hey, most of the cops were only Mexicans, so who — at ATF — cares?)
(bear with us, we’ll add these real soon now).:
XProducts customer leter, PDF:
BATFE Determination Letter, PDF:
Various earlier FTB determination letters, as JPG after the jump:
The second (2004) shoestring determination letter (we know we’ve got the first one around here somewhere, but can’t lay hands on it), signed by then-FTB head Sterling Nixon.
The ATF’s 2007 backdown from the inane classification of a shoelace as a machine gun, signed by Acting Chief of the FTB Richard Vasquez. (Now it’s only a machne gun if you use it to make a firearm fire automatically). Reportedly this was a reaction to the ridicule that even field agents and (especially) Industry Operations Inspectors were encountering on their daily rounds.
Here’s one of the Chore Boy scouring pad letters (there are at least two different ones kicking around). Apologies for the low quality:
And as an extra added bonus, the ATF slams the ban hammer on oil filters, (if you own one of those prison-bait “oil filter adapters”). This one is signed by Acting Chief John R. Spencer, and it is notable for being the only one that identifies intent as germane to the ownership of everyday items that some Clever Hans might assemble into a firearm silencer.