1st Circuit Fed Up With|Sig Sauer’s Semantics

     BOSTON (CN) — The First Circuit chucked an objection by Sig Sauer to regulators treating its device meant to limit recoil in its new MPX gun as a silencer.
     Under the National Firearms Act, guns with silencers are classified as Title II devices, which are subject to regulation that requires buyers to complete an application process that can takes months to complete, and includes a $200 tax.
     In the process of rolling out its new MPX, Sig Sauer worried that one of the gun’s components would trigger such classification by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
     Sig Sauer says the component in question is intended for use as a muzzle brake. Such devices are added to guns “to reduce recoil (the backwards force that results from firing the gun) and rise (the tendency of the barrel to move upwards when the gun is fired,” according to the ruling (parentheses in original).
     The ATF rejected Sig Sauer’s argument, however, and found that the part was “intended only for use” in assembling a silencer. Indeed the part’s design is almost identical to the core design of a silencer that Sig Sauer also sells.
     It did not help Sig Sauer’s case that the company was also planning to sell a shroud piece that fit onto the end of their new MPX that effectively turned the “muzzle brake” into a silencer.
     The ATF concluded that the part was designed with features common to all silencers, but no muzzle brakes, and that the gun type was not one that often comes with a muzzle brake.
     Furthermore, the prototype Sig Sauer submitted to the ATF only functioned safely if the part was encased, which essentially turned it into a silencer.
     When Sig Sauer challenged the designation with a federal complaint, it argued that the extra part was also intended to increase the overall length of the gun barrel to exceed 16 inches. This would mean the gun is not subject to NFA regulation, thereby giving the part a function other then silencing.
     The U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire ruled for the ATF, however, and the First Circuit affirmed Tuesday.
     “ATF reasonably determined on the basis of the record that the part’s capacity to reduce recoil and rise was merely an incidental consequence of the inclusion of the part on the gun – a consequence that ATF supportably found would result from adding any additional weight to the gun,” U.S. Circuit Judge David Barron wrote for a three-person panel.
     A representative from Sig Sauer declined to comment on the court ruling.

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