Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Federal Handgun Importation Criteria

Wednesday, July 28, 1999

In 1968, Congress enacted the Gun Control Act, which included provisions relating to the importation of firearms. As amended, one provision [Title 18 U.S.C. §925(d)(3)] provides that?

"The Secretary [of the Treasury] shall authorize a firearm or ammunition to be imported or brought into the United States or any possession thereof if the firearm or ammunition . . . is of a type . . . generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes. . . ."

During hearings of Subcommittee Number 5 of the House Committee on the Judiciary in April 1967, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Sheldon S. Cohen, explained that the provision "would not, and I emphasize, would not, preclude the importation of good quality sporting type firearms or of military surplus rifles or shotguns particularly suitable for or adaptable to sporting use."

Soon after the 1968 Act, what is now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), Treasury`s agency with regulatory authority over firearm issues, adopted "Factoring Criteria" to be used to determine whether a given handgun is eligible for importation under 925(d)(3). Under the criteria, a handgun must meet certain "prerequisites" and achieve a sufficient number of points under a "point system" which awards points based upon a handgun`s overall length and height (pistols) or frame length and barrel length (revolvers), weight, caliber, frame construction, safety-related features, and miscellaneous equipment such as target sights and grips.

Despite the "sporting language" in 925(d)(3), BATF`s criteria are in some respects weighted against handguns with well-established sporting credentials. As examples, the fact that a handgun uses .22 caliber ammunition earns it relatively few points, though more target shooting is done with .22 caliber handguns than with those of any other caliber. A pistol receives 10 points for having a double-action trigger mechanism, though single-action pistols dominate many long-established target shooting activities. A pistol receives points for having a target trigger and external hammer, though most .22 caliber pistols designed for target shooting do not possess external hammers.

"Gun control" supporters incorrectly claim that the criteria prohibit the importation of only unsafe and relatively inexpensive handguns, which they incorrectly imply are one and the same. (Many relatively inexpensive handguns perform well in durability tests.) As noted, however, "safety features" are but one category addressed in the criteria. Indeed, due to the criteria`s emphasis on the size of a handgun, some handguns with well-established reputations for quality of design and manufacture, such as the relatively expensive Walther PPK, are prohibited from importation. A handgun`s sale price is not a factor determining its eligibility for importation.
Based upon their false assumptions, "gun control" supporters have proposed to adopt the criteria as a rule governing the manufacture of handguns in the U.S. Separately, they have proposed that handguns or, alternately, firearms, be prohibited from manufacture in the U.S. if they would be prohibited from importation for any reason. Among the reasons for opposing such a measure, the BATF does not consistently adhere to the criteria. When directed to do so by the Administration, the BATF has ignored the criteria to prohibit the importation of certain handguns. Further, BATF has never formally adopted criteria for rifles and shotguns and, when directed by the Administration, has prohibited the importation of rifles and shotguns that it had previously approved for importation. Ironically, in 1986, Congress enacted the Firearms Owners Protection Act, which, among other things amended 925(d)(3) to prevent precisely this kind of arbitrary decision-making. Prior to the 1986 Act, the Secretary was permitted to authorize the importation of firearms meeting the federal standard; the 1986 amendment mandated that "the Secretary shall authorize the importation" of eligible firearms. (Emphasis added.)

There are two sections to the factoring criteria, and a handgun must satisfy the requirements of both sections to be eligible for importation.

I. Handgun Size and Safety "Prerequisites"

Pistols: A pistol must have (1) a combined length "not less than 10" with the height . . . at least 4" and the length being at least 6" and (2) "a positive manually operated safety device."

Revolvers: A revolver must (1) have a frame "of 4 1/2" minimum [and] a barrel length of at least 3" and (2) pass a "safety test" consisting of what is commonly referred to as a "drop test."

II. The "Point System"

Pistols: A pistol must earn at least 75 points from the following characteristic areas:

Overall Length For each 1/4" over 6", 1 pt.
Frame Construction If investment cast or forged steel, 15 pts.; if investment cast or forged HTS alloy, 20 pts.
Weight One pt. per ounce; most pistols weigh between 15-40 ounces.
Caliber If between .22 LR and .380 ACP, three pts.; if 9mm or larger, 10 pts.
Safety Features Firing pin block or lock, 10 pts.; locked breech, loaded chamber indicator and magazine safety, 5 pts. each; grip safety, 3 pts.
Misc. Equipment Double-action mechanism, 10 pts.; click adjustble target sight, 10 pts.; drift adjustable target sight, five pts.; target grips, five pts.; target trigger and external hammer, two pts. each.

Revolvers: A revolver must earn at least 45 points from the following characteristic areas:

Barrel length For each 1/4" over 4", 1/2 pt.
Frame construction If investment cast or forged steel, 15 pts.; if investment cast or forged HTS alloy, 20 pts.
Weight One pt. per ounce. Most revolvers weigh between 15-50 ounces.
Caliber If .22 LR and .30 to .38 S&W, three pts.; if .357 Mag. or larger, 5 pts.
Misc. Equipment Adjustable target sights, five pts.; target grips, five pts.; target hammer and trigger, five pts.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Handguns
TRENDING NOW
NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

Monday, April 1, 2024

NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

NRA Members Among the Largest Class Protected from Draconian Rule

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates ATF Rule Classifying Bump Stocks as Machineguns

Friday, June 14, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates ATF Rule Classifying Bump Stocks as Machineguns

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unlawfully exceeded its authority by classifying bump stocks as machineguns.

Fallout from Trudeau’s Gun Grab: Crime is Up, Number of Gun Ranges Drops

News  

Monday, June 17, 2024

Fallout from Trudeau’s Gun Grab: Crime is Up, Number of Gun Ranges Drops

In Canada, a ban on over 1,500 firearm makes, models and variants, together with a mandatory government confiscation (“buyback”) requirement, was imposed by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over four years ago. 

NRA Files Amicus Brief with Ninth Circuit in Challenge to California’s Billy Club Ban

Friday, June 14, 2024

NRA Files Amicus Brief with Ninth Circuit in Challenge to California’s Billy Club Ban

Today, NRA filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a challenge to California’s prohibition on the possession of billy clubs.

Still no Trace of the Truth

News  

Monday, June 17, 2024

Still no Trace of the Truth

In our first installment of a critical analysis of an anti-gun propaganda podcast series from The Trace, we covered the lies, misinformation, and deceptive emotional arguments made in the first four episodes. 

Biden Was Right on Veterans Before He was Wrong; Now Congress Tightens the Reins

Monday, June 10, 2024

Biden Was Right on Veterans Before He was Wrong; Now Congress Tightens the Reins

In March, we reported on an appropriations rider that corrected a longstanding and shameful practice by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of reporting beneficiaries to NICS as “mental defectives” prohibited from having guns, merely ...

California: Mandatory Storage Legislation Passed in Committee

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

California: Mandatory Storage Legislation Passed in Committee

Yesterday, Senate Bill 53 passed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 6-2 vote and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

New York: Legislature Wraps Up 2024 Regular Session

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

New York: Legislature Wraps Up 2024 Regular Session

Gun owners have reason to celebrate when lawmakers drop the final gavel in Albany. Late Friday night, legislators finished their work and mercifully called it quits. It was a mixed bag for gun owners as the Legislature ...

Michigan: Governor’s New Budget Includes $2.6 Million for Red-Flag Laws

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Michigan: Governor’s New Budget Includes $2.6 Million for Red-Flag Laws

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her recommendations for the upcoming budget, which included the use of taxpayer funds for Michigan’s new red-flag law and other gun-control measures. The governor recommended $2.6 million for the implementation of ...

NRA Secures Landmark Legal Victory; Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for NRA in First Amendment Case Against Former New York Regulator

News  

Thursday, May 30, 2024

NRA Secures Landmark Legal Victory; Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for NRA in First Amendment Case Against Former New York Regulator

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) scored a historic legal victory today in one of the most closely followed First Amendment cases in the nation. In a stinging rebuke of New York’s “blacklisting campaign” against ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.