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dfletcher
08-13-2007, 11:27 AM
I was encouraged to see a detailed description of the legal definition of a "pistol grip" and am interested to know if the same exists for a flash hider. The best I have been able to find on CA DOJ website is that it is a device which is intended to redirect or direct muzzle flash away from the shooter's field of view. This is a surprise to me because I'd always though the purpose of a flash hider was to prevent others from seeing the flash.

Is there a legal definition of a flash hider and if so, how does it differentiate between a hider and a brake?

chiefcrash
08-13-2007, 11:56 AM
I was encouraged to see a detailed description of the legal definition of a "pistol grip" and am interested to know if the same exists for a flash hider. The best I have been able to find on CA DOJ website is that it is a device which is intended to redirect or direct muzzle flash away from the shooter's field of view. This is a surprise to me because I'd always though the purpose of a flash hider was to prevent others from seeing the flash.

Is there a legal definition of a flash hider and if so, how does it differentiate between a hider and a brake?

...you just quoted the legal definition of a flash hider (or at least CA's legal definition)

i'm sure hoff or bill will chime in, but it appears that the DOJ considers something a flash hider/flash supressor when (a) the ATF says it's a flash hider or (b) the manufacturer calls it a flash hider. There's more to it than that, but it seems like that's the bulk of it...

Glasshat
08-13-2007, 12:09 PM
The legislators left the definition wide open because, 1) they have no clue what a flash hider/flash supressor/muzzle brake is, and 2) they want the weas-ability to charge you with something.

I've seen good definitions of muzzle devices on CalGuns but unfortunatly they are not the legal definition.

aplinker
08-13-2007, 1:03 PM
I was encouraged to see a detailed description of the legal definition of a "pistol grip" and am interested to know if the same exists for a flash hider. The best I have been able to find on CA DOJ website is that it is a device which is intended to redirect or direct muzzle flash away from the shooter's field of view. This is a surprise to me because I'd always though the purpose of a flash hider was to prevent others from seeing the flash.

Is there a legal definition of a flash hider and if so, how does it differentiate between a hider and a brake?

"Intent." I think the functional definition used here is anything that's called a flash hider by the manufacturer is a flash hider, anything called a brake is not. If they're not selling it as a flash hider, it means they're not intending it to be one, which means (according to the definition) it's not one.

hoffmang
08-13-2007, 1:07 PM
The comments above summarize the position that BoF has taken in the past. What is actually legal is a different matter. Hunt v. Lockyer (probably now Brown) has this issue squarely at its core.

-Gene

dfletcher
08-13-2007, 2:18 PM
Let's see if I have this straight:

1) The CA definition is not only vague but a** backwards -
hopefully my Wayfarer sunglasses don't qualify.
2) Anything that hangs off the end of my barrel could be considered an FH by
one of our 58 DAs - mine happens to be Ms. Harris.
3) Even if it were a flash hider, if I have the manufacturer's paperwork calling
it a muzzle brake I've got a leg up on "jail time".

What prompted me to ask was seeing the Eagle "HK type" FH for the Mini 14 advertised as a muzzle brake - it's the same item, different name.

doctor_vals
08-13-2007, 2:26 PM
Here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_hider):
A Flash suppressor, also known as a flash hider, flash guard, flash eliminator, or flash cone, is a device attached to a rifle or other gun that directs hot escaping gases from the barrel end. It reduces the visibility of the blazing muzzle flash which occurs upon firing to the shooter and or other individuals.
Muzzle flash is especially visible at night, making it easy to see the location of the shooter, and at the same time interfering with the shooter's night vision.

And here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muzzle_brake):
A muzzle brake or recoil compensator is a device that is fitted to the muzzle of a firearm or cannon to redirect propellant gases with the effect of countering both recoil of the gun and unwanted rising of the barrel during rapid fire[1]. Muzzle brakes are very useful for combat and timed competition shooting, and are commonly found on rifles

ViPER395
08-13-2007, 4:28 PM
Anyone been hassled for having a brake on a semi-auto detachable mag centerfire?

Satex
08-13-2007, 4:40 PM
[QUOTE=chiefcrash;709630but it appears that the DOJ considers something a flash hider/flash supressor when (a) the ATF says it's a flash hider or (b) the manufacturer calls it a flash hider. There's more to it than that, but it seems like that's the bulk of it...[/QUOTE]

That isn't the bulk of it, and that is why Hunt is suing the CA DOJ. Condition (c) on your list should be: when CA DOJ uses itís non existent analysis to determine that a device is a flash hider.

Basically, the current status is that you could have a muzzle device that isnít recognized as a flash hider by the ATF or the manufacturer, but the CA DOJ still reserves the right to declare it a flash hider. They have a comprehensive analysis procedure they use to determine that, but cannot provide any documentation to support that - nor do they provide the process for us to be able to evaluate potential muzzle devices. You should read iggyís declaration for Hunt vs CADOJ and learn for yourself about this situation.

Fate
08-13-2007, 4:43 PM
Flash hiders are not illegal. Flash SUPPRESSORS are the banned item. A suppressor is defined in the regs as a muzzle device that significantly reduces or redirects muzzle flash from the shooter's line of sight. There are flash hiders AND muzzle brakes that do that. There are also FH and MB that DON'T. An item by name alone is not automatically good or bad. You have to concentrate on what it actually does.

The law isn't about "hiding from the enemy", it's about being able to accurately shoot faster without having the shooter's eyes affected by muzzle flash.

With modern ammo, the reduction in flash signature from a shooter's perspective using an A2 birdcage vs. a barrel without any FH/MB at all is in no way "significant." Imperceptible is more like it.

dfletcher
08-13-2007, 6:39 PM
Indeed, the law does reference flash suppressor and not flash hider. Thanks for the correction bdgfate. If there is any hope that allows for clarification - well, I'm not certain.

I found this on the DOJ website - don't know if this has the force of law or not, but I believe it is a clarification for "flash suppressor" just as was done for the term "pistol grip":

start Department of Justice Regulations for Assault Weapons and Large Capacity Magazines
FINAL STATEMENT OF REASONS
Hearing Dates: February 24, 2000, Sacramento, California
February 28, 2000, Los Angeles, California
UPDATE OF INITIAL STATEMENT OF REASONS
978.20 (b) - Flash Suppressor
This term was originally defined as “any device that reduces or conceals the visible light or flash created when a firearm is fired. This definition includes flash hiders, but does not include compensators and muzzle brakes (devices attached to or integral with the muzzle barrel to utilize propelling gasses for counter-recoil).” There were two primary problems with the definition when
it was originally noticed to the public (December 31, 1999 through February 28, 2000). The most significant problem with the original definition was that it included and/or excluded particular devices by name (flash hider, muzzle brake, compensator) without consideration of whether the devices actually suppress flash. After further consideration prompted by public comments, the
Department concluded that the absence of statutorily defined specific measurement standards or a statutory requirement to establish those standards demonstrates a legislative intent to identify any device that reduces or redirects flash from the shooter’s field of vision as a flash suppressor regardless of its name and intended/additional purpose. Thus, “flash hiders” are flash suppressors only if they reduce or redirect flash from the shooter’s field of vision. Conversely, “compensators”
and “muzzle brakes” are not flash suppressors only if they do not reduce or redirect flash from the shooter’s field of vision. The revised definition is clearly consistent with the legislative intent of the statute as it neither includes nor excludes any particular device on the basis of its name only.
Additionally, “conceals” in the original definition presented the possibility of an overly broad interpretation which could have included any device positioned between the shooter’s eye and the muzzle flash, such as the sights on a gun. To avoid such unintended interpretation, the word
“conceals” was replaced with “redirects.” Accordingly, the original definition was changed to:
Page 3 of 8
“flash suppressor means any device that reduces or redirects muzzle flash from the shooter’s field of vision.”
This revised definition was noticed to the public during the first 15-day comment period (May 10 through May 30, 2000). Comments addressing this version of the definition prompted further
reconsideration and revision. As such, the definition was revised a second time by replacing “ . . . that reduces or redirects muzzle flash . . . ” with “ . . . designed, intended, or that functions to
reduce or redirect muzzle flash . . . ” This change was necessary because it became clear that flash suppressors are typically attached by twisting or screwing the device onto the threaded barrel of a firearm. Therefore, by simply making a half turn (180 degrees), an otherwise fully operational
flash suppressor would not function as prescribed in the prior definition. The revised definition eliminates this potential loophole. Accordingly, this final revision “flash suppressor means any device designed, intended, or that functions to reduce or redirect muzzle flash from the shooter’s
field of vision,” was noticed during the second 15-day comment period (July 12 through July 31, 2000). Although additional comments were received, no comments were received during the second 15-day comment period that resulted in substantial revision to the definition. However, the
Department made a non-substantial revision by adding “perceptibly” to the phrase “reduce or redirect” to confirm that if a reduction or redirection of flash is so minuscule that it is imperceptible to the human eye, it could not reasonably be considered a reduction. end

Reading the above, if a flash hider redirects muzzle flash into the shooter's field of view - as most of them do, I believe - then it is not a suppressor. Is this correct?

But, if a person had a flash hider that redirects muzzle flash into the shooter's field of view - and modified it by covering the holes - doesn't that then meet the definition of a flash suppressor? In effect, eliminating the feature which we consider to be a problem - the cuts/holes in the FH - turns the thing into a flash suppressor?

Further, if a flash hider has holes on 1/2 its diameter and is screwed on, it would be a flash suppressor? If it had holes 360 & was screwed on, it is not? If it's not threaded but pinned & has holes 180, is it a flash suppressor?

Wheter or not something is a flash suppressor seems like it should be pretty straightforward - I don't know how you guys do it on the complicated stuff.

Satex
08-13-2007, 6:54 PM
But, if a person had a flash hider that redirects muzzle flash into the shooter's field of view - and modified it by covering the holes - doesn't that then meet the definition of a flash suppressor? In effect, eliminating the feature which we consider to be a problem - the cuts/holes in the FH - turns the thing into a flash suppressor?

Further, if a flash hider has holes on 1/2 its diameter, installing the device "holes up" would be OK, installing the same device with the "holes down" would be a flash suppressor?


Don't try to make sense out of it, there isn't. There are three fundamental issues here:
1) Flash suppression is a qualitative effect. I.e. there is no standard as to how much the flash has to be suppressed for it to be considered a flash suppressor.
2) The is no measurement standard for evaluating the flash suppression. I.e. what is the field of view, what is the ambient lighting during the test, what is the spectral response of the flash sensor, is peak energy or total energy measured and so on...
3) The DOJ will not state HOW they determine a device to be a flash suppressor.

So, letís recap: there are no flash suppression standards, there are no flash suppression measurement standards, and the CA DOJ has a process that is "top secret".
As a result of this, you can come up with ANY type of muzzle device, and the CA DOJ will be able to claim that itís a flash suppressor. You will have to fight them in court claiming it isn't.
Furthermore, the CA DOJ will not give you their opinion about a specific muzzle device unless you are indicted for that offense. Classic case of you arenít allowed to know how to not break the law, but we reserve the right to indict you for it.

Yankee Clipper
08-13-2007, 8:19 PM
Here we are again with our semi-annual 'define-flash-hider' thread. It's a shame dfletcher that the DOJ-BOF has to be explained by respondents like Satex as "the CA DOJ will not give you their opinion about a specific muzzle device unless you are indicted for that offense. Classic case of you aren't allowed to know how to not break the law, but we reserve the right to indict you for it." but he's right, the laws we try to live by should not be hung on such tenuous treads. And because of that I thought that the last time this was hashed out, in this forum, the consensus was that if the manufacturer said it was a flash hider (or flash suppressor) then that's what it was. Anything else was legal. Or do I just have a bad memory?

dfletcher
08-13-2007, 8:46 PM
I recall the "what it's called is what it is" threads and am really quite content to go along with that - although in theory the lack of clear guidelines is a bit of a concern. Specifically:

Would one of these be OK?
http://www.mountsplus.com/miva/merchant.mvc?page=MSP/PROD/EAGLE_Muzzle_Brakes/EAG-1403-BLK

How about this?
http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p=6059

Does "what it's called is what it is" apply if CA DOJ can produce just one vendor who sells these things with the description from Brownells?

hoffmang
08-13-2007, 8:57 PM
Practically - If its marketed as a muzzle brake it appears from sworn DOJ testimony that you should be legal and certainly have an estoppal defense based upon that sworn testimony in Hunt.

However, legally its still a bit wild west and probably unconstitutionally vague.

-Gene

ARBITER
08-14-2007, 9:17 PM
I was displaying an AR upper receiver assembly with a post ban ATF approved muzzle brake on it ( it looked like a flash suppressor with 6 slots around it and an exit hole a little larger then the bullet diameter). Along came Iggy and I asked his opinion about it and he said." if it's got slots on the side it is a Flash Suppressor , if it has round holes on the side then it is a muzzle brake. I explained that this was approved by the ATF as a post ban muzzle brake and he said I better have papers for it. So be careful when replacing your flash suppressor with a muzzle brake. Round holes v. slots.! only the CA DOJ could come up with this.

shark92651
08-14-2007, 9:31 PM
This coming from the same "expert" that testified under oath that a trigger assembly was the receiver of a firearm. "I am the only one here qualified to define what a flash-hider is..." :rolleyes:

I was displaying an AR upper receiver assembly with a post ban ATF approved muzzle brake on it ( it looked like a flash suppressor with 6 slots around it and an exit hole a little larger then the bullet diameter). Along came Iggy and I asked his opinion about it and he said." if it's got slots on the side it is a Flash Suppressor , if it has round holes on the side then it is a muzzle brake. I explained that this was approved by the ATF as a post ban muzzle brake and he said I better have papers for it. So be careful when replacing your flash suppressor with a muzzle brake. Round holes v. slots.! only the CA DOJ could come up with this.

arguy15
08-14-2007, 9:49 PM
I was displaying an AR upper receiver assembly with a post ban ATF approved muzzle brake on it ( it looked like a flash suppressor with 6 slots around it and an exit hole a little larger then the bullet diameter). Along came Iggy and I asked his opinion about it and he said." if it's got slots on the side it is a Flash Suppressor , if it has round holes on the side then it is a muzzle brake. I explained that this was approved by the ATF as a post ban muzzle brake and he said I better have papers for it. So be careful when replacing your flash suppressor with a muzzle brake. Round holes v. slots.! only the CA DOJ could come up with this.

My M1a has a muzzle brake that has slots (and holes) yet it was approved. This guy is such a joke.

dfletcher
08-15-2007, 8:16 AM
I think the folks who may know the difference are companies like Springfield Armory who actually have to navigate our legal waters. I have the CA legal version with the brake - what's the difference between their brake & their FH?

Just as an example, let's say a device that is threaded onto a barrel has holes on 1/2 the diameter. Since it could be set so the muzzle flash is redirected only down it would be illegal. Makes no difference if you chose to have it up -since it has the capability of being set in the down position it's illegal.

Whether the same would apply to a device that is pinned on, I don't know.
If a device is welded on, perhaps that makes a difference.

As inexact as it may sound, I think using the name - MB = OK, FH = not OK - may be better replaced with the question "Does the device have the capability of directing muzzle flash out of the shooters line of sight?" Yes is illegal, no is OK. How they arrive at that, I have no idea, but that seems to be what the law is based on.

Fate
08-15-2007, 8:24 AM
As inexact as it may sound, I think using the name - MB = OK, FH = not OK - may be better replaced with the question "Does the device have the capability of directing muzzle flash out of the shooters line of sight?" Yes is illegal, no is OK. How they arrive at that, I have no idea, but that seems to be what the law is based on.
Exactly.