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View Full Version : My newfound opinion on the legality of the Judge pistol


Calm Down
10-03-2011, 5:46 PM
I was going to resurrecthttp://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=99718&highlight=judge but I wanted to get a different reaction by posting my own title.

Background: I’ve been a deputy sheriff for more than eleven years. I’ve spent two years working in a jail, four years working as a bailiff and nearly six on patrol. I am also a Field Training Officer and have assisted in the training of eighteen deputy sheriff’s. I have testified in court regarding the identification of assault weapons.

Last year my sergeant asked me how he could purchase a Judge. I ultimately told him about he’d need to have the firearm made into an AOW. He is not familiar with the NFA process and once I explained it; he rejected the idea.

Since then, I have spent some time reading state and federal laws as well as various opinions of others regarding this topic. Some of the arguments revolve around the barrel being rifled versus smooth; others have argued it’s merely cosmetic and if the “.410” marking was deleted, the firearm would be legal. In my opinion, the most valid argument in support of the Judge being legal revolves around the definition of “shotgun shell”. As it has already been stated, the CCI shot shells would in essence turn and handgun into a SBS. What is the difference between a .410 shot shell with #9 shot and a .45lc shot shell with #9 shot? Is it the brass/aluminum casing versus the plastic hull?

http://www.armscor.thegunsource.com/DisplayPic.aspx?PIC=491952
http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/images_thumbs/rioc3665.jpg

PC 12020

(c) (1) As used in this section, a "short-barreled shotgun" means any of the following:

(A) A firearm which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell and having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.
(B) A firearm which has an overall length of less than 26 inches and which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell.

(C) Any weapon made from a shotgun (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if that weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.

(D) Any device which may be readily restored to fire a fixed shotgun shell which, when so restored, is a device defined in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive.
(E) Any part, or combination of parts, designed and intended to convert a device into a device defined in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, or any combination of parts from which a device defined in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, can be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.


We must delve a bit deeper. When we look at U.S.C. Title 26 Section 5845, we see the definition:
(d) Shotgun
The term “shotgun” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles (ball shot) or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed shotgun shell.

On its face, one would say I’ve just proven that the Judge is illegal. That’s why we must examine the definition a bit more. A destructive device is defined as:

(f) Destructive device
The term “destructive device” means
(1) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas
(A) bomb,
(B) grenade,
(C) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
(D) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
(E) mine, or
(F) similar device;
(2) any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes;
and
(3) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device as defined in subparagraphs (1) and (2) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled. The term “destructive device” shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon; any device, although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line throwing, safety, or similar device; surplus ordnance sold, loaned, or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to the provisions of section 4684 (2), 4685, or 4686 of title 10 of the United States Code; or any other device which the Secretary finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, or is an antique or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting purposes.


By specifically identifying shotguns and shotgun shells as having a diameter in excess of ½ inch, but allowing an exemption to be made if they are suitable for sporting purposes; only firearms or shot shells with a diameter in excess of ½ inch are applicable.

My opinion is this: A .410 shot shell fired from a pistol/ handgun is not a short-barreled shotgun because the diameter of the bore is not in excess of ½ inch.

LET THE DISCUSSION BE PEACEFUL!

dantodd
10-03-2011, 5:50 PM
You are conflating federal and state law. You cannot rely on the federal definition of a shotgun in analyzing state law, unless the state law specifically defers to a federal definition, which CA hasn't in this case.

OleCuss
10-03-2011, 6:04 PM
Logical, but as dantodd says, it doesn't work.

oldrifle
10-03-2011, 6:06 PM
What they said...

Glock22Fan
10-03-2011, 6:08 PM
Go and check Chuck Michel's web site. On there, you should find their detailed analysis of the Judge and why it isn't, but should be, legal. Don't remember the details, but he's an expert AND a lawyer.

sbrady@Michel&Associates
10-03-2011, 6:10 PM
Go and check Chuck Michel's web site. On there, you should find their detailed analysis of the Judge and why it isn't, but should be, legal. Don't remember the details, but he's an expert AND a lawyer.

Per your request, here is the memo "Judging the Judges" our office put together that you are referencing, it explains it all:

http://www.calgunlaws.com/images/stories/Docs/MEMORANDUM/judges%20memorandum.pdf

There is actually news on this front that we will be releasing soon.

Calm Down
10-03-2011, 6:12 PM
You are conflating federal and state law. You cannot rely on the federal definition of a shotgun in analyzing state law, unless the state law specifically defers to a federal definition, which CA hasn't in this case.


Sure I can. If there is no legal definition for "shotgun shell" in California, a judge would entertain the thought of reading the definition codified in federal regulation. Provided there was a legal action against someone of course.

I'd like Gene to chime in on this.

OleCuss
10-03-2011, 6:16 PM
Read the link above which Sean provided. It's probably the definitive answer until a court rules on it.

Looking forward to the movement Sean mentions. I love it when he or others from that practice chime in. . .

taperxz
10-03-2011, 6:19 PM
Sure I can. If there is no legal definition for "shotgun shell" in California, a judge would entertain the thought of reading the definition codified in federal regulation. Provided there was a legal action against someone of course.

I'd like Gene to chime in on this.

We all love Gene! However i think even Gene would not mind you listening to Sean.;)

BKinzey
10-03-2011, 6:23 PM
Your Judge could also entertain themselves by stating a "Shot Shell" is different than a "Shotgun Shell".

Tarn_Helm
10-03-2011, 6:26 PM
Per your request, here is the memo "Judging the Judges" our office put together that you are referencing, it explains it all:

http://www.calgunlaws.com/images/stories/Docs/MEMORANDUM/judges%20memorandum.pdf

There is actually news on this front that we will be releasing soon.

(edit above by me)

Interesting.

Did not say "good news."

Did not say "bad news."

Just "news."

Intriguing.

Dutch3
10-03-2011, 6:42 PM
When we look at U.S.C. Title 26 Section 5845, we see the definition:
(d) Shotgun
The term “shotgun” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder

So under Federal definition, the Judge is not a shotgun.

skyscraper
10-03-2011, 6:53 PM
Per your request, here is the memo "Judging the Judges" our office put together that you are referencing, it explains it all:

http://www.calgunlaws.com/images/stories/Docs/MEMORANDUM/judges%20memorandum.pdf

There is actually news on this front that we will be releasing soon.

Interested in what this news is. Any eta on the release date? Im currently in the process of getting one through NFA AOW route and interested in whats going on legally with the judge.

Ubermcoupe
10-03-2011, 7:24 PM
(edit above by me)

Interesting.

Did not say "good news."

Did not say "bad news."

Just "news."

Intriguing.

And there I was assuming it was good news :facepalm:

Calm Down
10-03-2011, 7:24 PM
Read the link above which Sean provided. It's probably the definitive answer until a court rules on it.

Looking forward to the movement Sean mentions. I love it when he or others from that practice chime in. . .

It's a good read but my specific topic regarding the definition of “shotgun shell” or diameter is not addressed. My opinion is merely that, an opinion. I would have no problem testifying in court regarding my opinion. I’m not looking to be a guinea pig in a test case but I’m more than willing to assist. I just wanted to share a different way of looking at the interpretation of the law by others.
Ten years ago any new AR type rifle was taboo, now look what’s happened. With different opinions and eventual case law to hopefully support them, who knows what the final decision will be.

ke6guj
10-03-2011, 7:27 PM
So under Federal definition, the Judge is not a shotgun.

correct. And per CA's definition of shotgun, it isn't a CA-defined shotgun. But CA's definition of SBS does not require tht the firearm first be a shotgun.

CSACANNONEER
10-03-2011, 7:34 PM
I see a potential problem with your interchanging "shotgun shell" and "shotshell". I can make a "shotshell" from just about any type of casing but, "shotgun shells" are specifically designed to be fired in shotguns. If we use them interchangably, all firearms could be considered "shotguns" and therefor, ANY title one firearm with a barrel shorter than 18" would be a NFA item. Do you really want to push this? I, for one, can't afford all the tax stamps I'd need to comply with this.

Decoligny
10-03-2011, 7:36 PM
So under Federal definition, the Judge is not a shotgun.

Even under CA law the Judge is not a "shotgun".
It is however, under CA law, a "short barrel shotgun".
They are two totally different and totally independant definitions.

stix213
10-03-2011, 7:41 PM
(edit above by me)

Interesting.

Did not say "good news."

Did not say "bad news."

Just "news."

Intriguing.

Seeing that it is currently banned, the news can't get worse :D

wash
10-03-2011, 7:44 PM
That destructive device law does not say that all shotgun shells are larger than 1/2", it says that shotguns aren't destructive devices even if the bore is larger than 1/2".

The Judge is still most likely illegal in CA unless AOW'd.

Mulay El Raisuli
10-04-2011, 5:09 AM
Per your request, here is the memo "Judging the Judges" our office put together that you are referencing, it explains it all:

http://www.calgunlaws.com/images/stories/Docs/MEMORANDUM/judges%20memorandum.pdf

There is actually news on this front that we will be releasing soon.


I am giddy with anticipation.


The Raisuli

billybob_jcv
10-04-2011, 7:28 AM
This is why attempting to write a law banning an item based on it's mechanical properties is foolish. Some bright engineer will always figure out a way to accomplish the function (in this case firing lead shot from a device you can fit in your pocket) in a way not covered by the legal description. Laws should cover actions, not items. Don't shoot people or other people's property. What other laws are needed???? :)

franklinarmory
10-04-2011, 9:27 AM
Deputy Calm Down.

I want to give you an "attaboy" for trying. :patriot: Seriously, many people never post their ideas because there is a likelihood that they'll get shot down. In this case, you tried, it didn't quite work, but I admire your desire to creatively think it through.

P.S. Wasn't "Calm Down" the one thing the academy taught recruits not to say during scenarios? :D

Wherryj
10-04-2011, 10:05 AM
We all love Gene! However i think even Gene would not mind you listening to Sean.;)

I agree. Read that memo from Sean/Michels and Associates. It looks very well reasoned, and is written in very clear manner.

I wish that the corporate law office that I used a few years back did even half as thorough a job on my case.

Scarecrow Repair
10-04-2011, 10:13 AM
any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes

It only says that if the bore is more than a half inch, it cannot be a shotgun. It doesn't say that a bore of less than half an inch is not a shotgun. A .410 is excluded for both reasons: less than half an inch bore and being a shotgun.

Let's rephrase that:

any type of fruit with a red skin, except a strawberry

That includes all red fruit except strawberries; it doesn't say that strawberries are all red. A yellow strawberry is excluded both for color and being a strawberry.

sbrady@Michel&Associates
10-04-2011, 10:17 AM
Two quick things I would like to clarify:

1) Though I appreciate the kind words, I actually did not work on this particular memo, the credit goes to Joe Silvoso from our office and Chuck himself;

2) The news that will be released soon does not concern the Taurus Judge (sorry to disappoint anyone), but it is related to the memo posted.

Also, the OP should be commended for thinking outside the box, even though, without having spent a little more time looking into it, I think at best his argument is a defense to criminal charges using the Rule of Lenity (i.e., that the definition of "shotgun shell" is vague or ambiguous and thus must be defined in favor of the criminal defendant), but not something to rely on in obtaining a Taurus Judge.

P.S. -- OP, please change your avatar, man. That image ruins my day.

Ubermcoupe
10-04-2011, 10:25 AM
2) The news that will be released soon does not concern the Taurus Judge (sorry to disappoint anyone), but it is related to the memo posted.



I'm good... I'll just need a moment alone. :(

Crom
10-04-2011, 10:27 AM
P.S. -- OP, please change your avatar, man. That image ruins my day.

x100,000

Briancnelson
10-04-2011, 10:52 AM
I heard they were going to release a California version of the Judge called the "Jury", until they figured out it wouldn't shoot in California when aimed at someone famous.

Texas will also be getting a special version called the "Executioner".

(The above was tongue in cheek humor. This has been a public service announcement for the humor impaired)

bwiese
10-04-2011, 10:57 AM
I thank Sean Brady for reposting Chuck's memo.

Yes, the Taurus Judge revolver is a no-go in CA [unless AOW'd].

I myself will be getting a Rossi 'revolver' rifle (yes, DOJ, it will have a rifled barrel.)

johnny_22
10-04-2011, 1:09 PM
I thank Sean Brady for reposting Chuck's memo.

Yes, the Taurus Judge revolver is a no-go in CA [unless AOW'd].

I myself will be getting a Rossi 'revolver' rifle (yes, DOJ, it will have a rifled barrel.)

The Rossi "California Judge" .45LC/.410 is so much fun. The chokes really helps extend the range.

jamesob
10-04-2011, 1:28 PM
I thank Sean Brady for reposting Chuck's memo.

Yes, the Taurus Judge revolver is a no-go in CA [unless AOW'd].

I myself will be getting a Rossi 'revolver' rifle (yes, DOJ, it will have a rifled barrel.)

what about the part in the p.c that says "any" shotgun with a revolving cylinder is considered an a.w? i saw one at wally world the other day in .410 and was wondering if it's considered an a.w

Rock6.3
10-04-2011, 2:14 PM
what about the part in the p.c that says "any" shotgun with a revolving cylinder is considered an a.w? i saw one at wally world the other day in .410 and was wondering if it's considered an a.w

Read the linked legal opinion.

Rifled barrel means it is a rifle not a shotgun.

Joewy
10-04-2011, 2:23 PM
Its all mute because the judge sucks for either a shotgun or a pistol...

Lead Waster
10-04-2011, 2:24 PM
This is one of those guns that I look at and think "Having it is not worth the potential for trouble"

wildhawker
10-04-2011, 2:46 PM
Its all mute because the judge sucks for either a shotgun or a pistol...

^ this.

BigDogatPlay
10-04-2011, 4:53 PM
So under Federal definition, the Judge is not a shotgun.

Correct, but California defines an SBS more restrictively and the Judge, for now, fits within that more restrictive definition. The state can have more restrictive laws than the feds, but not necessarily less restrictive. So long as those laws don't infringe in a court's opinion on any civil right, then the law stands.

And for now a Judge pistol is an SBS in California. it's also a solution to a non-existent problem, IMO. But that's another story for another thread.

jamesob
10-04-2011, 6:27 PM
Read the linked legal opinion.

Rifled barrel means it is a rifle not a shotgun.i know all that but this was clearly marked .410 so i will have to go back and see if it has riflings or a smooth bore.

7x57
10-04-2011, 6:34 PM
^ this.

I hate to disagree with 'Hawker, but I think if the point were "mute" we would not be discussing it. In fact, I think *very very few* issues are "mute" on Calguns. :D

I'm open to arguments that the point is "moot", however.

7x57

skyscraper
10-04-2011, 8:10 PM
Its all mute because the judge sucks for either a shotgun or a pistol...

^ this.

Have you guys owned a judge? What did you not like about it? Its not expensive so it can't be that...

glbtrottr
10-04-2011, 8:43 PM
You're welcome to pick one up at OC Armory - it's the OC Armory Judge AOW, complete with forward grip and single action (I believe). If the idea is to own one on principle....

At least until an update on the memo or a few other exciting Calguns news...

Calm Down
10-04-2011, 8:55 PM
So; what have we learned? Many of us have looked up the definition of “shotgun shell” “shotgun” and “shot shell”. In the end; we are no more informed than we were when we started.

We have found .22 cal. shotguns, 9mm rimfire shotguns and even shotguns with a bore diameter of two inches. California laws regarding shotguns and shotgun shells are so ambiguous; a peace office and an attorney can’t even make sense of it.

My posting was merely to point out the vagueness of the law and my personal interpretation of the codified statutes.

Whether the bore is rifled or smooth; in excess of ½ inch or not. Or it’s marked .410, .45acp, .45lc or any other caliber (not gauge); everyone will have a hard time interpreting the statutes.

This is one for the courts and I have no problem being called as a witness for the defense if needed.

I find the previously attached memo from Michel & Associates, to be an opinion that can and will be used to persecute gun owners. As much as I disagree with the assertion that all .410 caliber firearms are considered “shotguns”; I will refrain from arguing in such a public forum.

To the few people of the 1200 viewers of my post; please understand that not every peace officer is against gun ownership and that some of us have even gone before the state legislature in opposition of some laws and in support of others, especially when the proposed laws does not affect a peace officers gun rights. I became a cop to protect the rights of all not of the few.

Some may scoff at my last statement but as an example, I will state that I do not hold myself to be better than anyone else and my most recent display of that can be shown by me refusing to pursue criminal charges against a suspect that fought with me while I was affecting an arrest. I was injured during the altercation and so was he. My lieutenant wanted me to pursue charges of felony battery against a peace officer. I see it as just part of the job. Battery is battery regardless of my job title. I am no better than anyone else. The end result was the suspect pleading guilty to being under the influence of drugs and I kept my self respect.

Mulay El Raisuli
10-05-2011, 6:16 AM
Two quick things I would like to clarify:

1) Though I appreciate the kind words, I actually did not work on this particular memo, the credit goes to Joe Silvoso from our office and Chuck himself;

2) The news that will be released soon does not concern the Taurus Judge (sorry to disappoint anyone), but it is related to the memo posted.

Also, the OP should be commended for thinking outside the box, even though, without having spent a little more time looking into it, I think at best his argument is a defense to criminal charges using the Rule of Lenity (i.e., that the definition of "shotgun shell" is vague or ambiguous and thus must be defined in favor of the criminal defendant), but not something to rely on in obtaining a Taurus Judge.

P.S. -- OP, please change your avatar, man. That image ruins my day.


Drat! Still, an advance in the Right is an advance.


The Raisuli